What Is The Best Cardio Exercise For Bad Knees?

Sharing is caring!

Why do you want to do cardio exercises with bad knees?

This is important to first establish and here’s why…

Do you want to do cardio exercises because:

A. You think cardio helps you lose weight?

B. You think cardio will make your knee pain go away?

C. You enjoy what cardio does for your mental and physical (heart) health. You enjoy pushing yourself?

It’s important you choose and answer because here’s why I’m asking you this important question.

If you answered A or B, cardio might be the worse thing you can do right now. When it comes to weight loss, there are more potent ways to lose weight than using cardio exercises with bad knees.

And for reducing knee pain, the stronger the leg muscles are around your knee joint and lower body, you may reduce knee pain. Strength training is shown to reduce joint pain.

Where cardio builds little to no strength and usually involves high repetitions which isn’t great for bad keens.

Seek Professional Medical Advice First

Have you been to see a Physical therapist and got a diagnosis on your knees to establish exactly what is causing your pain?

Maybe the knee pain is caused by:

  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone on bone
  • Cartlidge damage
  • You twisted your knee
  • Overweight or obese

It’s good to know what you’re dealing with, then you will know what may cause further damage to your knees or not.

For example…

If you have bone of bone, and you’re overweight, then you’re best off losing weight, by getting your nutrition dialed in.

In fact…

What you eat has a far greater impact on weight loss than any exercise you can do.

What Cardio Exercise Is Easiest On The Knees?

Depending on exactly what is wrong with your knees some forms of cardio workouts, like jogging, running, pushing a sled, and walking up a hill may instantly get ruled out because they cause you severe pain.

If you’re hell-bent on doing cardio and you’ve got knee pain, then you’re going to have to try a few different forms of cardio exercises.


So you can see what exercise causes you any further knee injury to your bad knees.

Here’s the thing…

Something that’s touted as one of the best cardio workouts for others, maybe the worse thing for your bad knees. To find the best exercise regimen for you, you’re going to have to test things.

Are You Doing Cardio To Burn Calories?

If you are STOP.


Because cardio is not the best way to burn calories or lose weight.

What’s a better way?

Nutrition, reduce stress, get more sleep, strength training.

This video shows you why cardio isn’t the best solution for fat loss everyone’s be led to believe it is.

What Exercises Can I Do To Lose Weight With Bad Knees?

Check this out…

In 1kg of fat there are 7,700 calories.

And let’s say some genius on the internet says, “cycling is a great way to burn fat.”

If you divide 7,700 calories that make up 1kg of body fat by the 720 calories you might burn riding at 200 watts for one hour, it will take you 10 hours, 69 minutes to burn 1kg of fat.

Let’s assume the majority of people have more than 1kg of body fat to lose. And for most 720 calories an hour is on the high side. Meaning most people would never get near burning 720 calories an hour.

Let’s get real here:

10+ hours to burn off 1 kg of fat is a long time for someone with bad knees to work out. The chances of you inflaming your knees even more and driving up the pain you feel to level a 100.

Level 100 is passing out from the pain

If you want an easier, faster, and more effective way to lose weight, dial in your nutrition, stop feeding the fat, and you’ll notice your waistline shrinks much faster.

Do Strength Training, Because Muscle Mass Is Critical For You

Muscle is what helps to hold your joints in place, and getting stronger in your lower body has helped millions of people reduce, or dramatically decrease the pain in their bad knees.

When you get stronger and build muscle, your major muscle groups do what they are meant to do, hold your body together better, and improve your overall health and look.

Of course, it’s important you use proper form with any strength training exercises you do for bad knees.

Here’s some exercises you could try, only do one exercise each session when starting out.


Because if you do three different exercises and your knees hurt, you won’t know which exercise or exercises caused you further knee pain.

  • Step-Ups
  • Lunges
  • Glute Bridges
  • Squats
  • Reverse Walking
  • Hamstring curls (seated or laying down)
  • Straight leg exercises like RDL’s
  • Leg Extensions
  • And don’t forget to work your upper body

When you try any of these exercises above, if your knees hurt more, or your pain gets worse STOP immediately.

Do one exercise per session and allow a couple of days recovery.


Because for example, what you might find is that squats, hamstring curls, glute bridges, and steps ups are fine. You get some pain but not much.

But lunges are a no go for you.

There’s many leg exercises you can do, what you need to establish is which ones you can and can’t do. And that’s why you do one exercise at a time, then see how you pull up over the next day or two.

If you get little to no pain, you’ve just found an exercise you can use. Next session, try another exercise.

After testing all the exercises and you find there’s only one or two you can comfortably do. Great. These are the exercises you’ll use to improve strength, build muscle, and hopefully improve your knee injury.

How Can I Get In Shape With Bad Knees?

If you want to get in shape with knee pain, you need to get your nutrition cleaned up. If you’re overweight, then what you currently eat has put excess weight on you.

You don’t even need to exercise to lose weight, you can lose weight simply through your nutrition.

Does exercise help?

Yes, and exercise has a million other benefits for your physical and mental health.

Start with your nutrition, if you need help get a nutrition coach or if you don’t want to do that. Eat similar meals.

What are similar meals?

Your lunch and dinner a similar day in and day out, and here’s why.

If you’re eating a protein source with 3-5 veggies each meal, it becomes super quick and easy to make any adjustments. Losing too much weight? Eat a little more. Not losing weight? Eat a little less.

But if every meal you eat is totally different then it means you’ll have to track and weigh everything you eat.

When your baseline is protein source with 3-5 veggies each meal it becomes easier to control your weight.

What Is The Best Cardio Exercise For Arthritic Knees?

There are no best cardio exercises for your bad knees.

I could tell you “the best” exercise to do, but if that exercise causes you more pain, then is it the best exercise for you?

When you’re got bad knees, you have to test and measure different exercises and see what your body can handle. Because the same exercises given to two different people with knee issues can affect them in different ways.

One person may feel no pain and the exercise is great, the other person might find the exercise is the worse thing for their knee.

Start With Exercises You Might Like

Maybe you like boxing, swimming, walking, cycling, or battle ropes. Try a few and see how your knee feels during and afterwards. Because trying out different exercises is how you work out the best exercises for your knees.

You need to become your own scientist, where you’re testing and measuring what works for your knees with exercise.

Strength Training Makes Your Bones And Muscles Stronger

Instead of cardio for arthritic knees, studies show strength training helps improve arthritic knees.

5 Biggest Mistakes People With Bad Knees Make When It Comes To Exercise

If you avoid these five biggest mistakes, you’ll put yourself in a position to lose weight, improve your knees, and improve your overall health.

Mistake 1: They Don’t Approach Exercise From A Testing Angle

An exercise that’s great for 533 other people’s knees, might cause you intense knee pain. You have to test different exercises to see what your knees can handle.

There’s no point me saying, lunges are the best exercise. You would have to do some lunges and see how your knees pull up. Test and measure.

Mistake 2: They Do More Than One New Exercise At A Time

If you do bodyweight squats, steps ups, lunges, and reverse walking today and tomorrow you wake up and your knees are giving you grief.

Which exercise has upset your knees?

When you’re starting out with your exercise program, do one exercise at a time.

For example, today you do bodyweight squats only. Then you see how your knees feel over the next day or two. If they feel good, squats are an exercise you can do.

Then you do steps-ups and follow the same procedure.

Mistake 3: They Think Cardio Is The Best Solution To Weight Loss

If you’ve got bad keens and you want to lose weight forget about cardio, it’s rubbish for weight loss. You are 100 times better off focusing on your nutrition. What you eat makes you fat or lean.

Get your nutrition right and the fat comes off.

Mistake 4: They Don’t Do Any Strength Training

Everyone wants to look younger than their age, look great naked, feel athletic, look sexy, and rid themselves of keen pain. Yet most people are not doing the one thing that gives them all of this.

Strength training is the magic ingredient your body needs.

When you’re stronger and you’ve added a bit of muscle to your frame, everything becomes so much easier for you.

Importantly, strength training makes the muscles around your knee joint stronger.

Mistake 5: They Don’t Take Their Nutrition Serious Enough

It breaks my heart when I see overweight people doing cardio trying to lose weight. Cardio is not the solution to weight loss.

The solution is your nutrition. And I’m not talking about going on a diet. Eat like your grandparents did. Fruit, veggies, dairy, meat, and fish.

It’s called simple natural food, without all the processed shit in it.

Whatever you’re eating now is making you gain weight. Clean up your diet and you can enjoy a shrinking waistline.

Forget about burning calories and focus on healthy wholesome food.

Summary The Best Cardio For Bad Knees

There is no best cardio exercises for bad knees. High repetition movements may make your knee pain more intense and do further damage to your knees.

It comes back to this:

Why do you want to do cardio exercises?

This is important to first establish.

Do you want to do cardio exercises because:

A. You think cardio helps you lose weight?

B. You think cardio will make your knee pain go away?

C. You enjoy what cardio does for your mental and physical (heart) health. You enjoy pushing yourself?

If you answered A or B, cardio might be the worse thing you can do right now. If you want to lose weight, get your nutrition sorted out. Because what you eat either makes you fat or lean.

Strength training may be more beneficial to you than any form of cardio because strength training makes you stronger, and helps improve bone density.

What you need to do is…

Find a starting point that’s comfortable for you. Maybe strength training is too much for your knee right now, maybe you’re better off in a pool swimming, or doing other water workouts.

Maybe a traditional stationary bike is all your knees can handle at the moment.

It’s all about testing and seeing what you and your knees can handle right now. If there’s certain exercises you can’t do, don’t do them. Keep testing until you find some exercises you can do.

The mistake is…

Listening to someone who says “the best exercise is” then you try that exercise and it’s no good for you so you don’t do anything.

The best exercise for you is an exercise you can do that doesn’t cause intense knee pain, and allows to you get stronger and progress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *