Change up your workouts if you have bad knees.
Your knees are complicated joints made up of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. If any of these components are injured, or even if you have muscle imbalance, you can suffer from pain. But that doesn't mean your workouts have to stop. You can work your upper-body muscles in a seated or lying position to protect your knees without neglecting your muscles.
Train your upper body two or three times each week on nonconsecutive days. Do one or two exercises for your back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps. If you are new to exercise, do one to two sets. If you are intermediate, do two to three sets. And if you are an advanced participant, do three to four sets. Pick a weight that allows you to do eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds between sets and focus on proper form and technique.
Back and Chest
Perform exercises for your back and chest first as they are large muscle groups and the smaller muscle groups assist in these movements. For your back, start with a lat pulldown. Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with an overhand grip. Pull the bar down below your chin with your elbows pointing to the ground. Release the bar up so that your arms are extended for one complete repetition. Next perform a barbell bench press lying on a flat bench. Grip the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar off the rack and slowly lower it to your chest by bending your elbows and bringing your arms out to the sides. Press back up to the starting position with your arms extended for one complete repetition.
Your shoulders, or deltoids, have three sections: anterior, lateral and posterior. The anterior portion helps with a barbell bench press, and the posterior sections aid in the pulldowns. So perform a seated lateral raise with dumbbells for the lateral portion and to give your shoulders a round appearance. Sit up tall on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears throughout the movement. Slowly raise your arms out to the sides until they are parallel to the floor with your elbows straight. Lower them back down to the starting position for one complete rep.
Keep your dumbbells and perform exercises for your biceps and triceps right after your shoulders. Sit tall with your palms facing forward to start a biceps curl. Keep your upper arms next to your body and bend your elbows, bringing the weights up towards your shoulders. Release them back down for one complete repetition. After your dumbbell curls, move to an overhead extension for your triceps. Bring your arms up overhead with your upper arms next to your ears and your elbows straight. Bend your elbows and bring the weights down behind your head. Extend them back up, contracting the back of your arms for one complete repetition.