How To Get Rid of Knee Fat [Exercises, Tips, & Tricks]

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

Then keep reading.

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

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.

How do I get rid of fat around my knees?

To get rid of knee fat you must lose weight and decrease your overall body fat percentage. That is the most effective way to lose fat from any part of your body.

Unfortunately, doing “knee-specific exercises” probably wont help you get rid of your excess knee fat.

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

In fact, where you gain and lose weight largely depends on your body type and your genetics. The fat around your knee may be the last place you lose fat from… or the first.

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

Interestingly, a study performed in 2017 divided participants into two groups of overweight women. One group only did lower body exercises in addition to cardio and the other group did upper body only exercises in addition to cardio. They found that the women in the lower body only exercise group had more fat loss compared to the women in the upper body only exercise group.

This is encouraging!

So, if you want to lose knee fat, you should do lower-body specific resistance training and eat in a way that will promote fat loss, i.e less calories.

So now let’s talk about what types of exercises you can do.

The best exercises to ‘target knee fat’

Most women have excess fat right above the knees.

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

It is composed of four separate muscles, hence the name quadriceps.

quadriceps-muscle

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

Many people refer to this muscle as the tear drop muscle as it looks like a tear drop.

The good news is:

Some of the best lower body exercises are primarily knee flexion/extension based movements.

When you are doing these exercises, you should focus on feeling the contraction of the quadricep muscle, rather than the range of motion.

You should feel the muscles above your knee activating when doing the following movements.

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:

terminal-knee-extensions

To do this exercise:

  • Loop the band around a sturdy pole/beam at the level of your knee.
  • Next, place your leg inside the loop of the band and stand facing ~12 inches away from a beam to place 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 resistance of the band. 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 onto a chair. 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:

pistol-squat

To do this exercise:

  • Stand approximately 12 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 definitely activate your VMO muscle if done correctly.

Use a short stepping stool to make this movement safe and easy to do.

Here’s how it looks:

short-step-ups

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a small stepping stool that is at the level of your mid shin/calf.
  • Place one foot on the box.
  • 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 is 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:

banded-squats

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 where 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 in the form of 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:

front-foot-elevated-split-squat

To do this exercise:

  • Get into a standing staggered 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 at 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 really target the VMO muscle.

If you would like you could feel free to grab external resistance either in the form of a dumbbell, resistance band, or kettle bell.

Here is how the exercise looks:

curtsy-lunge

To do this exercise:

  • Stand up tall with your feet together and hands on your sides.
  • Now, take one foot back and bring it back behind you and 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 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:

seated-leg-extension

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.
  • From here, begin straightening one knee out in front of you 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.

Just don’t forget that exercise alone wont help you achieve your goals. You must couple this with a proper nutrition plan!

If you’re interested in a simple 6 week lower body workout program – check out my Leg & Booty guide for only $9.

Other Related Questions

Why do you get knee fat?

There is no specific reason why you get knee fat.

Everyone is unique.

How your body fat is distributed is simply based on your genetics, your body type, your metabolism, and your anatomic makeup.

Can you have fat removed from your knees?

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

The three different options are:

  • Cryolipolysis
  • Surgical removal of fat, and
  • Liposuction

Let’s start with the nonsurgical 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 is a good option if you are not a surgical candidate due to previous medical conditions.

Current studies of 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 option is having the excess knee fat removed in the operating room. This would require an incision, removal of 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.

surgical-options-for-knee-fat

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 healthy knees.

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

Think about it.

You need your knees to be healthy to walk, to run, to jump, to 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.

So what have you tried to lose knee fat?

Comment below and let me know!

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brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness expert. She holds a Masters 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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References:

  1. Ramírez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Campos-Jara C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Alvarez-Lepín C, Izquierdo M. Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):2219-24.
  2. Scotto di Palumbo A, Guerra E, Orlandi C, Bazzucchi I, Sacchetti M. Effect of combined resistance and endurance exercise training on regional fat loss. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017;57(6):794-801. doi:10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06358-1
  3. Zelickson BD, Burns AJ, Kilmer SL. Cryolipolysis for safe and effective inner thigh fat reduction. Lasers Surg Med. 2015;47(2):120-127. doi:10.1002/lsm.22320
  4. Stevens WG, Bachelor EP. Cryolipolysis conformable-surface applicator for nonsurgical fat reduction in lateral thighs. Aesthet Surg J. 2015;35(1):66-71. doi:10.1093/asj/sju024
  5. Wanitphakdeedecha R, Sathaworawong A, Manuskiatti W. The efficacy of cryolipolysis treatment on arms and inner thighs. Lasers Med Sci. 2015;30(8):2165-2169. doi:10.1007/s10103-015-1781-y
  6. Ingargiola MJ, Motakef S, Chung MT, Vasconez HC, Sasaki GH. Cryolipolysis for fat reduction and body contouring: safety and efficacy of current treatment paradigms. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2015;135(6):1581-1590. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000001236

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