8 Lower Body Exercises That Won't Cause Achy Knees

Sure, the temperatures outside are reaching polar vortex levels — but just because you're more likely to be sporting over-the-knee boots than flashing any thigh doesn't mean you can skip your leg and butt workouts. But, how many squats can one person really do? Yes, they're a magical, all-over toner that gets the job done in basically one more, but they can also wreak havoc on your knees.

And, when it comes to lower body workouts, there are so many other options besides simply squatting up and down! Ones that won't make you feel like you have the bones of an 80-year-old, we might add. To find out how to get your butt (and thighs, and quads, and calves) in gear, we turned to FitnessGlo trainers Denise Klatte and Petra Kolber, who are pros at crafting on-the-go, no-equipment-necessary workouts (which you can stream online, too!).

Try adding eight to twelve reps of the moves below to your regular workout. We guarantee you'll see results without any day-after hobbling. Win-win!

1. Calf Raises

Works: Calves

Basic: Hold on to a chair. With your feet together, slowly lift up and down on your toes, keeping most of your weight on the first and second toes.

Advanced: Hold onto a chair. Lift one leg off of the floor, slowly raise up and down on your toes, keeping most of your weight on your first and second toes. Repeat on the other leg.

2. Bridges

Works: Butt and hamstrings

Basic: Lie down on the floor with knees bent, hip-distance apart. Keeping your knees in a straight line over your ankles and toes, slowly lift your hips up, squeezing your glutes at the top of the bridge. Pause and then lower slowly.

Advanced: Lie down on the floor with knees bent and hip-distance apart. Lift one leg up toward the ceiling with knee either straight or bent. Slowly lift hips, squeezing your glutes at the top of the bridge. Lower slowly. Throughout the exercises, keep your hips level to the ceiling. Repeat on the other leg.

3. Hamstring Curl with Stability Ball

Works: Butt, hamstrings, and core

Lie down on the floor and place your heels on a stability ball, keeping your knees at a 90-degree angle. Lift your hips and butt up and slowly straighten your knees, rolling the ball out. Pause. Keep your hips level. Roll the ball back in.

4. Bent Knee Hip Extension with Weight

Works: Butt and hamstrings

Kneel on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Lower yourself to place your weight on forearms (you can place a rolled towel under the right shin to prevent direct pressure to the supporting knee). Place a two pound hand weight in the crease of your bent left knee. Lift the left leg up from the floor so that the thigh is parallel to the floor. Pressing through your left heel, lift and lower your leg while gently squeezing the weight between your calf and back of thigh. Be sure to keep your core engaged to avoid excessive movement of your back. Repeat on the other leg.

5. Dead Lifts with Weights

Works: Butt, hamstrings, and core

Stand up tall with five-pound weights in your hands and your feet hip-distance apart. Slowly hinge from your hips to a 90-degree angle, while maintaining a neutral spine and straightened knees. Pause. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to return back to standing position. (If you have tight hamstrings or a weak back, keep your knees slightly bent throughout the exercise.)

6. Reclined Straight Leg Raises

Works: Quads

Basic: Sit on the floor with knees bent. Lean back onto your forearms and maintain an open chest. Straighten one leg keeping it just off the floor. Press through your heel and slowly lift and lower the leg with your toe pointing upward.

Variations: To work your outer quads, rotate leg inward from the hip. While pressing through your heel, lift and lower your leg. Keep both hips on the floor. For inner quads, rotate leg outward from the hip. While pressing through your heel, lift and lower your leg. Keep both hips on the floor.

7. Knee Extension With Medicine Ball

Works: Quads, inner thigh

Lie down on your back and place a medicine ball between your ankles. Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, so that your shins are parallel to the floor. Squeezing the ball, slowly straighten your knees to extend your feet to the ceiling, maintain the pressure on the ball and then lower back to starting position.

8. Standing Hip Abduction

Works: Outer thigh

Stand behind a chair and gently hold on for stability. Keeping your hips parallel, lift the left leg out to the side. As you lift the leg keep the toes pointed forward and ankle flexed. Pause and slowly lower. Keep your core engaged and shoulders over your hips. Repeat on the other leg.

Image: Syda Productions/Fotolia