The 6 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Skiing

Skiing can be a gruelling sport for the knee joint, so doing everything you can do to strengthen the knee and the muscles surrounding is a great decision if you’re looking to reduce your risk of injury and make your skiing more sustainable. Let’s have a look through 6 exercises that will allow you to achieve this goal.

8 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
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In This Resource
  • Benefits of Knee Strengthening Exercises
  • Injury Mitigation
  • Performance Enhancement
  • How To Use Knee Strengthening Exercises
  • Picking the Correct Exercises
  • Progressing From Your Starting Point
  • Using Full Body Resistance Training
  • The 5 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Skiing
  • Sample Knee Strengthening Circuit

Resistance training in general will do wonders for your knees, building a strong squat and deadlift will allow you to put large amounts of force through the knee joint, making them far more resilient to injury. However there are more specific knee exercises that isolate the knee joint, these are for those of you just interested in improving the stability or rehabilitating the knee joint.

Benefits of Knee Strengthening Exercises

Injury Mitigation

We cannot prevent injury, as the worst can always happen, especially in sports like skiing when the ankle is fixed and the knee is exposed. We can however mitigate injuries and repetitive sprains through using high quality exercises and training principles.

Performance Enhancement

Improving the stability of the knee can allow you to be more confident in certain positions with the knee. This psychological difference can make a big difference when it comes to performance, especially if you’re in rehabilitation for an injury.

How To Use Knee Strengthening Exercises

Picking the Correct Exercises

This list is a generic list of exercises that a wide range of people could use, but it’s up to you to pick the correct exercise that matches your situation based on the information I have provided. Picking the correct exercise is a very important starting point as if you select the wrong exercises you may move in the wrong direction, the “correct” exercise is often the one you find challenging yet achievable. If an exercise feel too difficult it is most likely not the right exercise for you.

If we look at two examples from the list, the DB Quad Dominant Squat in Lunge and the single leg plate step up, we can see that both of these are excellent for the stability of the knee, but they are designed for two very different types of trainee. The db quad dominant squat in lunge is a very challenging variation of a lunge that allows us to put a great deal of force through the knee joint, whereas the plate step up is a regression of a box step up that allows us to isolate and gently work the knee joint through a limited range of motion. A beginner or someone recovering from a serious knee injury should select the plate step up and an advanced individual should select the db quad dominant exercise.

Progressing From Your Starting Point

We all start at different points, some of us are pre-habing potential injuries, others are rehabbing severe injuries, you need to make training decisions based on where you are right now. From there you can progress the difficulty slowly over time based on how you adapt. This is known as the principle of progressive overload , which will allow you to improve your knee stability over time.

Using Full Body Resistance Training

Using full body resistance training and strength training will be the best option for maintaining a strong a capable body that can deal with a huge variety of sports and not just skiing. This form of training is perfect for those who are looking to be athletic and physically capable individuals, consider using our exercise library to design your own full body resistance training sessions and adding these knee stability exercises into your sessions. Or use our algorithm to generate your sessions.

The 5 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Skiing

The db quad dominant is one of the best exercises for more advanced trainees to use to improve the strength of their knee joint and surrounding muscles. This exercise should be controlled slowly with control, the more you can control and prolong the lunge motion the more effective the exercise. Do not look to use very heavy weights on this exercise, the primary goal should be to move with intention, controlling every second of the exercise, if your able to do this with heavy weights then go for it, if not then dial back the weight and focus on the movement quality.

The plate step up is my go to knee strengthening exercise for beginners. It might look rather easy, but when this exercise is done with excellent technique it can be very, very challenging. The key part of this exercise is getting the height of the plates correct, if you put them to low you will not create any stimulus, if they are too high you will need to jump up with the other foot on the floor, taking any effectiveness away from the exercise. Not using the other foot can be very difficult for this exercise, the trick is to start with just the heel of the foot on the floor, this will prevent you from jumping into the position. Finally, transitioning your weight over the leg you’re about to lift your bodyweight with will be very important to perform the exercise with precision.

The opposite side reach focuses much more on balance and stability than the previous two exercises. The stability of the knee is heavily linked to the stability of the hip joint, and this exercise will improve both. One thing to focus on during this exercise is not letting the knee shift interior as you reach the leg around as this encourages poor squatting patterns, so only reach the foot as far as able while you keep the knee exterior.

The goblet squat is a classic squatting exercise that is simple for most people to lean relatively quickly. The squat may not seem like a “knee stability” exercise like say the opposite side reach, but make to mistake that the ability of the knee to bi-lateral squat a great deal of force is a great indicator of strong and stable knees. People can often get wrapped up in corrective exercises for specific issues, when improving their bi-lateral squatting strength may be far more effective. The goblet squat is just one example of a squatting variation that you can use in your resistance training to improve knee stability and strength.

The tempo step down is used primarily for those who have suffered a knee injury and need to rehabilitate it, but this exercise is an extremely effective way to strengthen the knee joint. Moving through a single leg squat eccentrically with a tempo is no easy task, it usually requires some previous training experience. This exercise can seem more like falling towards the floor if not enough control is exercised, so ensure that you are controlling every portion of the movement.

The wall supported squat in lunge is a much more beginner friendly lunge variation that beginners can use to build confidence in the lunge movement pattern, which will be an important movement pattern for those looking to build strong and stables knees. Having the hand on the wall allows you or your client to take away the balance aspect of the exercise and focus on lifting the load applied. In the video no load is applied, but adding a dumbbell or kettlebell to the hand not on the wall can be very effective. I suggest using this in conjunction with and exercise like the opposite side reach or front and back reach to build both strength and stability in the same session.

Sample Knee Strengthening Circuit

Complete 3 rounds

1. Wall Supported Squat in Lunge

Complete 8 repetitions

2. Opposite Side Reach

Complete 4 repetitions

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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


Programme is a workout app that plans and progresses every workout for you

Programme learns from your past workouts, training experience and available equipment to create your optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.