High-Intensity Workouts For Bad Knees

High-intensity interval training improves health and fitness quickly but can take a toll on sore knees. If you have painful knees, we have some knee-friendly exercise options to help you reap interval training benefits.

Time is short and health is a priority, so we are always looking for efficient ways to maintain fitness. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) delivers healthful fitness benefits in less time than other more moderate workouts. HIIT routines have been shown to increase aerobic fitness, help to establish and sustain healthy blood pressure, increase cardiovascular health, and reduce body weight while maintaining muscle mass. However, interval activities like sprinting, used in high-intensity training, put stress on knees. For patients with damaged knees, intense intervals of sprinting followed by slower, more relaxed intervals of running can be painful and may even cause further injury to the joint.

If you have a knee injury or knee arthritis, sprinting may not be an option for you, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t reap the time-saving and fitness benefits of interval training. Two types of exercise that can provide exertion and recovery patterns without putting additional stress on painful knees:

  • Cycling. Whether you want to test your mettle on the hilly bike trails surrounding St. Paul or prefer a stationary bike that gives you more control over interval timing, biking is a great way to elevate your heart rate without straining your knees. To minimize knee stress, position the seat to keep your knee slightly bent throughout the cycling motion.
  • Swimming. Water exercise is an ideal way to minimize joint impact while physically exerting your body. Swim laps that boost your heart rate, and tread water to recover between bouts of activity.

If you do have a knee injury or joint arthritis that causes pain, talk with your orthopedic doctor about the safety of any interval training program you are considering. The goal of HIIT is low volume and high intensity. When you work out, take your time, don’t push yourself past your level of fitness, and don’t continue to exercise if you feel pain.

Check out our Family Fun Cycling Guide for more great tips and recommended Minnesota trails.

Learn more about Summit’s Cycling Program and personalized cycling evaluations.

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