How To Get Rid of Knee Fat (Exercises, Tips, & Tricks)

Do you have excess knee fat that you are trying to get rid of?

You are in the right place.

In this post, you will learn:

  • How to get rid of fat around your knees
  • The best strength training exercises to target your knee fat, and
  • How to maintain healthy knees

Let’s get started.

how to get rid of knee fat cover image

How do I get rid of fat around my knees?

To get rid of knee fat, you must decrease your overall body fat percentage. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to guarantee fat loss from a specific part of your body.

In other words, doing “knee-specific exercises” probably won’t help you get rid of your excess knee fat.

Most studies demonstrate that spot reduction (the ability to lose fat from a specific body part through training) is not possible.

However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do leg exercises.

Interestingly, a study performed in 2017 divided overweight women into two groups. One group only did lower body exercises plus cardio, while the other group did upper body exercises and cardio.  They found that the women in the lower body-only exercise group had more fat loss than those in the upper body-only exercise group.

Therefore, lower-body-specific resistance training and cardio can help you promote fat loss, which may help reduce knee fat!

So now let’s talk about the types of lower body exercises you can do.

The best exercises to target knee fat

Most women have excess fat right above and around the inner knee.

The muscle that sits in this area is the quadriceps. This powerful muscle group is essential for extending (straightening) the knee.

It is composed of four separate muscles, so they are called the quadriceps.

picture of the quadriceps muscles

Of the four, the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) is the one we want to focus on. The VMO is the muscle closest to your inner knee.

Many people refer to this muscle as the teardrop muscle, as it looks like a teardrop.

The good news is:

Some of the best lower body exercises are knee flexion-based movements that target the VMO muscle.

When doing these exercises, focus on feeling the contraction of the quadriceps muscle with each repetition.

In other words, you should feel the muscles above your knee activating when doing the following exercises.

Here are the 7 best exercises for fat knees.

Terminal Knee Extensions

Terminal knee extensions are one of the best exercises to strengthen the vastus medialis muscle.

You will need a resistance band to do it.

Here’s what it looks like:

brittany performing terminal knee extensions with a band around her knee

To do this exercise:

  • Loop the band around a sturdy pole/beam at your knee level.
  • Next, place your leg inside the loop of the band and step back ~12 inches to put the band on tension.
  • Now bend the front knee (the one with the band around it) by lifting your heel.
  • From here, slowly begin straightening the knee against the band’s resistance. You should feel the VMO muscle activating.
  • Repeat 10 times before moving onto the other leg.

High Pistol Box Squat

Box squats resemble sitting down on a chair, and it is an easy and safe way to learn the proper technique of squatting.

To do this movement, you will need a high chair.

Here is what it looks like:

brittany performing a pistol-squat on a high chair

To do this exercise:

  • Stand approximately 6 inches in front of your high chair.
  • Lift one of your legs and balance yourself on one foot. If need be, hold onto a wall to help you keep your balance.
  • Now squat down by bending at the hips and knees simultaneously.
  • Once your glutes make contact with the chair, pause for a 1 count, and stand back up with a focus on activating the quadriceps muscle.
  • Repeat 10 times before moving onto the other leg.

Short Step Ups

The step-up is a great single-leg exercise that will activate your VMO muscle if done correctly. You will need a stepping stool to do it.

Start with a short stepping stool to make the movement safe and easy to do.

Here’s how it looks:

brittany performing short-step-ups on a stool

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a small stepping stool at the level of your mid shin/calf.
  • Place one foot on the stool.
  • From here, begin leaning forward to place all your weight on your front foot.
  • Your back foot should naturally lift off the ground.
  • Slowly extend the front knee while focusing on activating the muscles around the knee.
  • Now step off the box in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Continue performing this movement 10 times before moving to the next leg.

Squats With Hip Bands

Squats with hip bands are one of my favorite exercises of all time.

You will need a hip resistance band to perform this exercise, which you could find at The Postpartum Trainer’s shop if you do not have one.

Here is how it looks:

brittany performing squats with a band around her knees

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet straight and approximately shoulder-width apart with the resistance band looped above your knees.
  • Begin squatting down by simultaneously bending at the hip and knee while forcing your knees outward against the band.
  • Try to reach a depth where your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knee is at a 90-degree angle. If you cannot get this low, do not worry. Only go as far as you are comfortable.
  • From here, you will stand back up and remember to focus on activating the quadriceps muscles.
  • Repeat this 10 times.
  • Feel free to use an external resistance such as a dumbbell or kettlebell.

Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

The foot elevated split squat is another great single-leg movement that trains knee flexion and extension.

This movement also burns!

Here is how the exercise looks:

brittany performing a front foot elevated split-squat

To do this exercise:

  • Get into a staggered standing position with one foot in front of the other, as wide as you comfortably can.
  • Elevate the front foot on a short stepping stool.
  • Now perform a split squat by bending the hips and knees simultaneously and standing back up.
  • Really focus on the contraction of the front knee.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times before moving onto the other leg.

Curtsy Lunge With Quadricep Bias

Curtsy lunges are another single-leg exercise that can target the VMO muscle.

Feel free to grab an external resistance such as a dumbbell, resistance band, or kettlebell.

Here is how the exercise looks:

brittany performing a curtsy-lunge

To do this exercise:

  • Stand up tall with your feet together and hands on your sides or up by your chest.
  • Now, begin stepping back with one foot and bring it across your opposite leg.
  • From here, you will bend down with both knees to a comfortable depth.
  • Return to the starting position, really focusing on the quadriceps contraction.
  • Continue this movement 10 times before moving on to the other side.

Seated Leg Extension With Hip Band

The seated leg extension with a hip band will require the use of a hip resistance band or glute band.

You could purchase one here if needed.

Here’s how the exercise looks:


To do this exercise:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair and place the band around both your legs at the level of your ankles.
  • Start straightening one knee out in front of you from here while keeping the other one firmly in place.
  • The band will be placed on stretch, making it difficult to extend your knee.
  • Again, really focus on the contraction of this exercise.

So there you have 7 great exercises to target the lower body in an effort to lose your excess knee fat.

Don’t forget that exercise alone won’t help you achieve your goals. You must couple exercise with a proper nutrition plan to achieve successful weight loss!

If you’re interested in a simple workout program to build lean leg muscles- Check out my Leg & Booty Guide.

Each workout is designed to help you build lean muscle from home in just 20 minutes a day!


Other Related Questions

Why do you get knee fat?

The causes of excess fat in the knee area are multifactorial.

The most common factors affecting the appearance of the knees include your genetics, your body type, your metabolism, and your anatomic makeup.

Excessive weight gain and lack of physical activity are also common factors.

Can you have fat removed from your knees?

You can have fat removed from your knees through less invasive non-surgical methods, or through a surgical procedure.

The three different options are:

  • Cryolipolysis
  • Surgical removal of fat, and
  • Liposuction

Let’s start with the non-surgical option, cryolipolysis.

Cryolipolysis is also known as “cool sculpting” and attempts to break down the fat cells in the knee by using a cold temperature.

This non-surgical treatment option is perfect for those who are not an ideal surgical candidate.

Numerous studies on cryolipolysis are reassuring, showing reductions in

One comprehensive review of the literature deemed it to be a safe and effective procedure with only minimal side effects such as swelling, pain, and redness.

Now onto the surgical options.

The first surgical option is to remove the excess knee fat in the operating room. This procedure would require an incision, removing the adipose tissue, and suturing of the incision.

The other surgical but less invasive option is liposuction.

Liposuction removes excess knee fat by first using a probe to emit ultrasound energy to break down the fat. Next, a cannula will be inserted to suction and remove the excess fat.

Both of these procedures are often done by a plastic surgeon.

surgical-options-for-knee-fat: do your research to see which option is best for you

Be sure to do thorough research on all of these procedures to see if any are right for you.

The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Knees

Trying to lose fat is beneficial not just for cosmetic reasons but also for maintaining a healthy knee joint.

Almost every activity you perform daily requires the use of your knees.

Think about it.

You need your knees to be healthy to walk, run, jump, squat down, go to the bathroom, and more.

By doing these exercises and decreasing your body fat percentage, you will be removing a lot of pressure off this important joint and reducing your risk of developing knee pain.

Final Words On Knee Fat

Exercise is an important strategy for improving muscle tone and maintaining a healthy body weight.

With that said, exercise alone will not help you lose your inner knee fat.

The best way to lose fat anywhere in your body is to decrease your total body fat percentage through the combination of:

  • physical activity,
  • a healthy diet, and
  • a reduction in calories

So what have you tried to lose knee fat?

Comment below and let me know!

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Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.

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