Way Up: Here Are the Benefits of Doing the High Knees Exercise

High knees is a deceivingly 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 make in your living space. Find out more here.

How to perform High knees (and variations)

It’s not necessary to require equipment for high knees and neither do you require a lot of space for exercise. For people who are just beginning, it’s recommended to perform high knees without any forward motion to build your body’s ability to perform the proper form.

Always start every variation of knees that are high with the core tight and activated. It is done by pushing your belly button towards your spine. You should be able to breathe easily, however, the tight core helps support your body and decreases the chance of injury.

Standard high knees

The knees of the high knees must look like exaggerated running. It is a fantastic warm-up exercise that can be part of a circuit or the HIIT workout.

  1. Start by placing your feet a little apart and your weight placed over the ball of your feet.
  2. Your left knee should be lifted as high as you can comfortably and bring your heel towards your glutes.
  3. Keep both your feet and knee towards the ground while you raise your left knee to the highest level you can and then bring your right heel toward your glutes.
  4. Keep your right knee pointing back towards the ground when you raise your left knee, as you did in step 3.
  5. Make sure you pump your arms with normal running motion. This will allow you to gather enough energy to keep your knees up even if you are becoming exhausted.
  6. Repeat the exercise for 10 seconds, gradually extending your time doing the exercise.

Pro tips:

  • The purpose of knees that are high isn’t just to cover a lot of ground. The goal is to raise your knees up as far in the quickest time possible. It’s possible to only move them by a couple of inches, or none at all in the living room but that’s fine.
  • Your footfalls should be smooth and swift. Concentrate on landings more than your knees in order to gain greater speed. (Or go back to school and pretend that the ground is hot scorching lava. Many runners have become quicker to avoid getting burned.)
  • Arms move as if it were running. Arm motions can help you build speed, as well as engage the upper body.

High knees that turn (steam engine)

Create a workout that makes your hip stretchers and abdominal muscles work more effectively with this knee-high variation.

  1. Start by placing your feet a little apart and your hands in front of your head, with fingers locked.
  2. Lift your left knee. As you keep your hands close to your head, turn to pull your right elbow towards the left side of your knee.
  3. Move your left knee and step backwards towards the ground.
  4. Make sure your right knee is lifted as you twist it to draw the left elbow towards the right knee.
  5. Use the right knee to drive the return the foot to the ground. This is one rep.
  6. 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 could equal 1 rep, and 2 lifts could be equal to one rep or so on.

A tip for you: This is an advanced form of knee exercise. Do not attempt steam engines until having completed the basic high knee exercises.

High knee march

High knees are a very impactful exercise. If you have knee pain or ankle or foot injuries, this exercise could even cause pain. High knee marching is a low-impact method that, if executed correctly, can provide you with an excellent exercise and help build strength.

Follow the guidelines 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 too much strain on your knees. Be sure to land lightly.

A tip for the pros: You’ll get a more workout when you push your arms more.

Plyometric skip

Plyometric skips or plyo skipping provide a new level of balance and power to conventional high knees.

  1. Begin with your feet slightly apart and the arms set at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Place your left foot on the ground, then jump while pushing your right knee up and right heel towards your glutes. (Use running arm movements to assist you in pushing your body upwards.)
  3. Make sure you land lightly on your left foot, then skip.
  4. The right foot should be driven into the ground, then (explosively) jump , while lifting the left knee up and the left foot towards your glutes.
  5. Place your feet lightly on the left foot and walk away.
  6. Repeat step 2 over and over again for between 10 and 20 seconds. As you advance you will be able to progress to 30- and 60 second sets.

Tips for the pros: Speed and distance aren’t the main reason for plyo jumps. The aim is to leap at the maximum height possible with every skip, then explode off the ground to generate strength. You can also perform them on the ground.

The place where you feel the heat

High knees are designed to target the primary muscles of the lower body that you’d expect to target — the glutes and quads calves and hamstrings. But it’s putting your hip flexors and 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 faster and increase your speed Plyometric exercises such as high knees are crucial. You’ll build rapid speed and explosive power while increasing the heart rate.

Arm movements are equally important. This is where you exercise on your shoulders (lats) as well as biceps and pectoral muscles. These also influence the speed. If you move more between the lower and upper body it will increase the stress placed upon the core to support your body. (Can you imagine where this could lead?) When you begin to get your knees moving and you’re pushing yourself into an exercise that is a functional and full-body workout.

What should you do if a sprain occurs

Although they are beneficial, plyometric workouts such as high knees are more prone to injury than average due to their high-impact nature that is difficult on joints.

If you do happen to suffer an injury Do not let it stop you from exercising however, be aware of the way you go about it. For instance, it is not advisable to ignore the nagging discomfort in your ankles, knees, or feet. You should wait until the pain disappears before performing the high knees once more.

Do not perform high knees when you’re coming to a halt after an injured up until the doctor approves. This is a complicated technique that could cause harm if performed incorrectly or too soon following an injury. When you try the move again, do it slowly. Begin by walking before turning your knees up into running exercises again.

End of line

High knees can pack lots of force in a small package. When you’re doing it right with consistency, you’ll experience numerous benefits related to flexibility, explosiveness, and endurance.

For those new to the sport, make sure you begin to progress into more difficult variations, speed, and intensities of this workout. Slowly increasing your intensity will give your body the chance to adjust and strengthen itself to prevent injuries.

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