Bad Knees -- Squat Replacement

Brief background: My girlfriend wants to get into lifting (yay), but has tendon problems in her knees. We have verified this medically, and it is not a temporary thing.

That being said, she cannot do squats or deadlifts, as they have a tendency to cause her knees to collapse and/or dislocate. Does anyone have suggestions for lower-body exercises that do not stress the knees?


I have bad knees aswell, can still squat though but sometimes hack-lifts feel a lot less stressful than squat.

With hack-squat I mean the real ones, with a bar. Basically a deadlift with the bar behind you.

Machine hacks are killing my knees so I wouldn’t recommend those.

What about leg-press? Personally, I don’t like them but many people say they get good results from them.

All leg exercises will somehow stress the knees, you have to experiment and find out what works for her.

Good luck.

Bodyweight Squats? (We used to call these “deep knee bends” when I was young. -ER. I meant “youngER”)

Leg Extension with absolutely minimal weight?

Leg Curls? Nothing wrong with the hamstrings, I hope.

Farmer’s Walks can’t help but work the legs, and she doesn’t have to radically bend at the knee. If she goes up on her toes with the back leg, she can get calf work in.

Just a few things that come to mind.

Seek out a physical therapist.

They should be able to direct you to specific exercises for the very specific problems you have.

I would second the physical therapist recommendation.

Personally, I’ve had some knee trouble in the past, and squats and deadlifts improved my knees.

I agree about the Physical Therapist. Do not underestimate the value such a visit and advice alone could provide.

A friend of ours is a PT, and gave my wife a single exercise that has removed an age old pain in her back.

Just like that. No kidding.


Then, if necessary, pick up training from there.

Cressey,Thibaudeau, Waterbury,D.John are on Prime Time tonight, this would be right down their alley.

The one thing I can guarentee is that it is impossible to go through life without squatting (unless you have to use a wheelchair). Walking up stairs is a 1 legged squat (ok it’s a step up but it involves knee extension).

See a physio, and just be really picky about technique, don’t increase the resistance unless form is perfect.

What do I know? I’ve twisted and dislocated my right knee about 20 times from the ages of 15 -33, I’m now 38 and squat 550lbs raw, when I hear the knee cracking from the artritis I turn the music up real loud.

My best wishes to the both of you,

Thanks for the ideas.
goes off to play mad scientist