Your knees are problematic  you haven’t been doing that move. A majority of the chronic knee pains experienced are caused by imbalances or poor flexibility in the muscles around their knees, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves—they’re not caused by injuries that damage the structure of their joints.

Looking to gain muscle and a sexy, toned body? That’s why it’s so important to perform stretching and strengthening exercises that target these large, strong muscles—which are responsible for protecting your knees. Those muscles have to be in good shape in order to do their job.

These eight moves, which target the muscles that are key to your knee health, are my secret to keeping those joints healthy and ready to kick some butt.

The workout: Hold each of the stretches below for 30 seconds on each side before moving on to the next stretch. After completing the stretches, move on to the strength exercises. Perform two sets of each strength exercise below, resting for 30 seconds after each set, then move on to the next exercise.

If you have mild to moderate knee discomfort, perform this workout twice a week for six weeks. If you have no acute knee discomfort, perform this workout three times a week for six weeks to prevent future knee issues. After completing the strengthening moves, perform the stretches again in the same way.

1. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

How to:

  • Kneel down on your left knee with your right foot on the floor and your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend your right arm upward (A). 
  • Tuck your pelvis under slightly so that you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Gently, bend to your right, and hold for 10 seconds (B).
  • Then, sweep your right hand around towards your back leg, and reach your left arm forward into a torso twist (C).
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Release back to the starting position, and perform the same thing on the other side.
  • That’s one set.
  • Do two sets.

Related article: The Importance of Stretching To Boost Muscle Recovery and Flexibility

2. Straight-leg Calf Stretch

How to:

  • Place your left foot about two feet from a wall, and step your right foot back so that your leg is straight and the right heel is on the ground.
  • Place your hands on the wall in front of your shoulders.
  • Gently press into your right heel, and lock your right knee.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, and switch sides.
  • That’s one set.
  • Do two sets.

Related article: 11 Dynamic Stretch Exercises To Assist With Massaging Hard To Reach Muscles For Instant Relief

3. Standing Hamstring Stretch

How to:

  • Place your right foot on top of a low step or bench, directly in front of your right hip.
  • Your left foot should be directly under your left hip.
  • Keeping your chest lifted, gently bend forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your right thigh (hamstring).
  • Hold for 30 seconds, and switch sides.
  • That’s one set.
  • Do two sets.

Related article: 5 Minutes Flexibility and Stretching Home Workout

The Strength Moves:

4. Body-weight Squat With Knee Press-out

How to:

  • Using a 20-inch resistance band, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Adjust the band to be just above your knees (A).
  • Turn your toes open slightly, and extend your arms in front of you.
  • Bend your knees, and lower your hips down and back until the tops of your thighs are parallel with the ground.
  • As you squat, press your knees outward to maintain resistance on the band (B).
  • Keep your knees directly above your ankles.
  • Press into your heels to stand back up.
  • That’s one rep, Do 15.

Related article: The Most Common Injuries For Lifters And How You Can Help Prevent Them

5. Single-leg Squat

How to:

  • Stand on top of a bench or box that is about 12 inches high.
  • Allow your right foot to hang off the bench, and extend your arms in front of you for balance (A).
  • Bend your left knee, and lower your hips until your right heel lightly touches the ground (B).
  • Press into your left heel, and drive upward to return to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep.
  • Do 15 on each side.

Related article: 10 Most Common Gym Injuries And How to Prevent Them

6. Hip Raise With Knee Press-out

How to:

  • Lie on the ground, and put a 20-inch resistance band just above your knees.
  • Place your feet on the floor with your knees bent, and open your arms out to the sides with your palms up.
  • Press your knees outward to put tension on the band, and hold (A).
  • Then, press into both heels and lift your hips upward until there’s a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (B).
  • Pause at the top for two seconds, and slowly lower back down.
  • That’s one rep, Do 15.

Related article: 8 Exercises to Relieve Sciatica Pain

7. Lateral Band Walks

How to:

  • Put a 20-inch resistance band around your legs, just below your knees (A).
  • Take a very large step to your right with your right leg, and follow with the left leg (B).
  • That’s one rep.
  • Do 15 on each side.

Related article: 6 Stretching Exercises to Help Reduce And Relieve Lower Back Pain

8. Single-leg Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

How to:

  • Hold a 10-pound dumbbell in your right hand, and stand on top of a 10-pound weight plate, step, or box.
  • Balance on your right foot so that your heel is off the plate, and wrap your left leg behind your right (A).
  • Press into the ball of your right foot until you are on your toes (B).
  • Pause at the top for two seconds, and slowly lower down.
  • That’s one rep.
  • Do 15 on each side.