Time and time again, I hear from people with bad knees complaining that all the best butt-lifters are too hard on their knees. Here are non-squatting moves you can do that REALLY work.

By Jennifer Cohen
Updated November 05, 2015
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Credit: Jennifer Cohen

In the 90’s and 2000’s, it was all about the washboard stomach. But over the last few years, that has shifted. These days, we all want a lifted, strong booty!

Strong glutes are not only great for vanity's sake, but they also help support your core and protect your back from injury.

The problem: time and time again, I hear from people with bad knees complaining that all the best butt-lifters are too hard on their knees. Are they condemned to life with a flat behind?


Knee pain, whether from osteoarthritis or an earlier injury, is one of the most common reasons that people shy away from working out in general. While this problem can limit you in the gym, it definitely doesn’t have to keep you out. In fact, exercise happens to be one of the best ways to combat knee pain. And strengthening your glutes can help prevent it from getting worse: By strengthening the muscles in your legs and butt while using good form, your knees will have better support and therefore won’t take on as much strain as they would otherwise.

Try these 4 glute exercises that will save your knees from pain, while giving you the “boost” you’ve been looking for.

As always, check with a doctor before starting any new workout program. If you're dealing with sharp pains, please see a doctor or physical therapist immediately.


Lie face down on a Swiss ball with your heels together and knees slightly bent outwards. From here, lift your legs up so your thighs hovering the ball and squeeze your glutes together. Hold for 2 seconds, and then bring your legs back down. Repeat for 15-20Â reps


Place a resistance band around both legs, just above your knees and lie down on your right side, using your right elbow to prop your head up, while keeping your heels together and knees bent at about a 45 degree angle. Leave your right leg planted on the floor while you lift your left leg up and back down. Go nice and slow and focus on your glute as you move through the exercise. Repeat for 15-20 reps before moving to your left side. If you want to increase the intensity, you can use a thicker band to make this move more difficult.

Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Donkey kick

With a resistance band wrapped around both legs, just above your knees, place both hands and knees onto the floor. Make sure your back is flat, knees are aligned with your hips and your hands are in line with your shoulders. From here, lift your left leg into the air as your press your heel towards the sky. Keep your knee bent and go only as high as you can without allowing your back to arch. Lower back down and repeat for a total of 15-20 reps. When you've finished with that leg, repeat on the other side.

Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Glute bridge with band

Lie on your back with your knees bent and a resistance band wrapped around both legs, just above your knees. Press through your heels to lift your hips up into the air. While you're still in this position, keep your feet planted as you press your knees outwards against the resistance band and then bring them back in to center. Lower your hips back down to the ground and repeat for 15-20 repetitions.

Photo: Jennifer Cohen

Looking for more ways to get your workout in without pain? Try this Super-Simple Strength Routine to Soothe Your Aching Back

Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on FacebookTwitterG+ and on Pinterest.