High knees can be a simple exercise that overstates the basic running movements to test various muscle groups — most notably the big lower-body muscles.
This is a pretty decent return for a single move you could perform in your living room. Find out more here.
How to perform the high knees (and variations)
There is no required equipment for high knees and neither will you require lots of fitness space. For those who are new to the sport, it’s best to practice high knees with any forward motion to build your body’s ability to perform correctly.
Always begin any type of high knees by establishing the core tight and activated. It is done by pushing your belly button towards your spine. You should be able to breathe easily, however, this tight core will support your body, reducing the risk of injuries.
Standard high knees
The knees of the high knees must look like an exaggerated run. This is a great warmup exercise that can be part of a circuit or a HIIT exercise.
- Start by placing your feet slightly apart with your weight evenly distributed over the ball of your feet.
- The left knee should be raised to the highest point you are comfortable with and bring your heel towards your glutes.
- Move both your feet and knee towards the floor as you raise the right leg as far as is possible and then lower the right heel toward your glutes.
- Your right knee should be pushed towards the floor as you raise your left knee, as you did in step 3.
- It is important to lift your arms while in running posture. This will allow you to gather enough energy to ensure your knees stay high even if you are becoming exhausted.
- Repeat the exercise for 10 seconds and gradually increase duration of the exercise.
- The purpose of knees that are high isn’t just to cover a lot of ground. The goal is to raise them as high as fast as you can. It’s possible to only move them just a few inches or none even if you’re in the living room however, that’s okay.
- Your footfalls must be easy and swift. Concentrate on landings more than your knees in order to gain greater speed. (Or go back to school and pretend to be on hot scorching hot lava. Many runners have become quicker to avoid getting burned.)
- Arms move as if that you’re running. Arm movements help increase speed and engage the upper body.
High knees that bend (steam engine)
Get your hip stretchers and abdominal muscles to work more effectively with this knee-high variation.
- Begin by placing your feet slightly apart, and your hands behind your head, with fingers locked.
- Lift your left knee. As you keep your hands close to your head, bend to pull your right elbow towards the left side of your knee.
- Use your left knee to drive your step backwards towards the ground.
- Make sure your right knee is lifted while you twist your body to draw the left elbow towards the right knee.
- The right knee should be driven and the return the foot to the ground. This is one rep.
- Repeat. In all you have the option of deciding how many different sets you’d like to incorporate into a set. For instance, one knee lift on either side may equal one rep, while two lifts can be a single rep or so on.
Tips for a successful workout: This is an advanced form of knee exercise. Make sure to only attempt steam engines after having completed the basic high knee exercises.
High knee march
High knees can be a high-impact exercise. If you have knee problems or ankle or foot injuries, this workout could even cause pain. High knee marching is a low-impact method that, if executed correctly, can provide you with a great cardiovascular workout and help build strength.
Follow the instructions for normal high knees. Instead of jumping on the surface in a bouncing motion, you should slow down and then march. Your body is still in a state of explosion with every step however you’re not putting the same amount of stress to your knees. Be sure to land lightly.
Tips for you: You’ll get more exercise if you work your arms more.
Plyometric skips, also known as plyo skips provide a new level of balance and strength to the standard high knees.
- Begin by placing your feet slightly apart, and the arms set at a 90-degree angle.
- Place your left foot on the ground and then leap while pushing your right knee up and your right heel towards the glutes. (Use running arm movements to push you up.)
- Place your foot lightly to the left foot and then skipping.
- Put your right foot on the ground, then (explosively) jump , while keeping the left knee high and the left foot towards your glutes.
- Place your feet lightly on the left foot and walk away.
- Repeat step 2 over and over again for between 10 and 20 seconds. As you advance you will be able to gradually increase your time to 30- and 60 second sets.
The best tip to follow: Speed and distance aren’t the main reason for Plyo skipping. The objective is to get to the highest height you are able with every skip, then explode off the ground to generate the power. It is possible to jump them from a standing position.
The place where you feel the heat
High knees are designed to target the primary lower body muscles which you’d think of as muscles of the quads, glutes calves, and hamstrings. But, it’s putting your hip flexors, which are the muscles that lift your knees to the ceiling, to work. Your abs become involved too, particularly if you get them activated before you begin.
If you’re looking to become quicker and increase your acceleration Plyometric exercises such as high knees are crucial. They build powerful power and speed while increasing the heart rate.
Arm movements are also important. In this exercise, you are working on your shoulders (lats) as well as your biceps and pectoral muscles. These also influence the speed. If you move more between the lower and upper body then you increase the stress placed upon the core to support your body. (Can you imagine where this could lead?) In other words, when you begin to get your knees moving you’re pushing yourself to an effective, full-body workout.
What should you do in the event that an injury occurs
Although they are beneficial, plyometric workouts like high knees are known to have a higher than average rate of injury due to their impact nature that is tough on joints.
If you do suffer an injury Do not let it stop you from working out however, be aware of the way you go about it. For instance, you shouldn’t ignore any discomfort in your ankles, knees, or feet. You should wait until the discomfort is gone before you attempt the high knees once more.
Do not perform high knees if you’re just coming back from injury before your physician approves. This is a complicated move that could cause harm if performed incorrectly or too soon following an injury. If you decide to try the move again, do it slowly. Begin by walking before turning your knees up into running.
End of line
High knees can pack lots of force in a compact package. When you’re doing it right with consistency, you’ll experience numerous benefits related to flexibility, speed, and endurance.
For those who are new to the sport, make sure you gradually progress to more difficult variations, speed, and intensity levels of this workout. Gradually increasing the intensity gives your body the chance to adjust and strengthen itself to prevent injuries.