How to Workout after Knee or Leg Injuries

Lifetime Fitness

(KUTV) Salt Lake City - If you have had a knee/leg injury or a recent knee surgery, you don't have to give up your exercise routine altogether. Jenn Diederich with Lifetime Fitness had knee surgery this summer, and says she didn't stop going to the gym while in recovery.

"Due to knee surgery on July 5, 2017, I had the option of taking it easy or figuring out a way to work out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I took 5 straight days off until I was able to see my doctor again. But 5 straight days of Netflix... Well, it got old. As soon as my doctor allowed me to go back to the gym (of course, with a whole set of rules and things I couldn’t do like sit down or bend my legs…) I went back. I hobbled up the stairs and down the stairs, although LifeTime does have an elevator. I hobbled to each machine and weight and was so grateful to just be up and moving. An hour workout took me 2 hours but it was totally worth it. So, what did I do? I worked just upper body and core in every way I was allowed to. Here’s a sample of things I was able to do while injured. PLEASE make sure that your doctor clears you to do these workouts if you are unfortunate to have to have knee surgery at some time. These workouts can also be done in conjunction with your regular workouts even if you’re not injured. This workout can also be easily varied for any type of lower body injury," says Jenn.

  • BACK – The best part of this has been how much better my pullups are. Pullups target your lats and make your back look fabulous. You can use a machine that LifeTime has where you do not bend your knees for assistance with pullups or you can just do them without assistance. Try to do 4 sets of 10. Rows can be done sitting as well as standing. I chose to use our cable machines and free weights for this. Variations are to pull toward your hips for lower back, toward your mid section for mid back, toward your chest for upper back. Flys are great for your upper back as well. I suggest a full workout of pullups, rows to your hips, mid section, and chest, and then flys. Do 4 sets of 15 reps. This was the weights are heavy but not so heavy that you are putting pressure on your knee.
  • BICEPS – Again, I’ve had the time to do this so my chin-ups are getting so much better! I suggest, just like with the pullups, doing chin-ups. Chin-ups target the back but also the biceps! Then, grab the dumbbells. Do one set of regular curls, one set of curls with your elbows angled in toward your waist and your hands outward/away from your body, and one set of one arm curls where your hand come in toward the opposite shoulder. The last set will be hammer curls where your thumbs are up and pinky finger down. Hammer curls help really build size of the bicep. Again, I suggest you do all 5 of these workouts. Do the pullups 10 times each for 4 sets. Do the bicep curls 15x for 4 sets each.
  • TRICEPS – Dips and tricep pushups!!!! Pick one of these. Dips can be done by placing your hands on 2 parallel bars. You can also use that same machine we have at LifeTime where you do not have to bend your knees. Lower and lift your body by bending and the elbows even to your shoulders and pressing back up. You can also do tricep pushups. These are done by bringing your hands directly below your shoulders and elbows (unlike a pushup where your hands are further out). Lower and lift your chest and body by bending the elbows and pressing back up. I suggest 10 of one of these workouts for beginners and 25 for advanced. Do this 4 times. Then, using free weights, do tricep presses and skull crushers. Then do overhead tricep presses and kickbacks. Again, 4 sets of 15 reps.
  • SHOULDERS – Ok, so this is where I add in pushups. Pushups are mainly for a chest workout, but I rarely work chest with weights. So you can add in pushups here or wait till chest workouts. Grab those free weights again. Do overhead presses, front raises, side raises, upright rows, and Arnold presses. Each set should be done 4 times with 15 reps.
  • CHEST – Again, I do not do chest workouts for personal reasons but, if you do, add in pushups here! For beginners do 10 reps, advanced – as many as you can. 4 sets. Then you, again, will add in those free weights. Chest presses (one set with a bar and one with dumbbells), Chest flys, and incline dumbbell press is what you’ll add in. Do 4 sets of 15 reps.

Jenn says, "I highly suggest CORE work every day. A few of the workouts above are great for core: pullups, chin-ups, and pushups etc. Watch what you eat! This is the time to really clean up your eating habits and help your injuries heal faster. Whatever your injury, listen to your doctor and do your physical therapy! But, if you can do a little more – don’t give up. You never know what cool new thing you’ll learn to do when you can’t do your favorite workout."

Jenn would be happy to help you with a workout for YOUR injury. Contact Jenn at LifeTime Fitness 801-302-0909 or come see her at 10996 S Riverfront Parkway in South Jordan. You can also go to for more information.