A form exercise that develops strength and endurance of the hip flexors and quads and stretches the hip extensors
Tags: middle school, form
High Knees demands a lot of coordination, so we recommend teaching it in four phases:
- Phase 1: Keeping the arms at the sides, slowly lift the knees so the thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Phase 2: Add arm swing while maintaining the slow pace.
- Phase 3: Pick up the pace and lift the knees as quickly as possible while maintaining good overall form.
- Phase 4: Do High Knees down a straightaway. Focus on lifting the knees up and down rapidly, rather than moving forward quickly. Once phase 4 is mastered, that's the only phase you'll need.
- Take off and land on the balls of the feet.
- Bring the thighs as close to parallel with the ground as possible, but not higher than parallel.
- Avoid any backward kicking motion.
- Look straight ahead while maintaining a tall, stable posture.
- Swing the arms from shoulders, in sync with the opposite leg, and without any side-to-side movement. Keep the elbows bent with the hands passing the body near the hips.
- During phase 4, focus on quick turnover and doing lots of knee lifts rather than racing down the straightaway.
- It is a challenging drill so be patient, focus on one area of improvement at a time, and slow down if form is suffering.
Duration / Reps:
For Phase 4:
- Beginners: 2-3 reps over 10-20 meters
- Experienced Athletes: 3-5 reps of 30 meters
- Before or after the main workout
- Or as part of a series of form drills repeated several times as the main workout
- Develops strength and endurance of the hip flexors, the muscles that lift the knees and prevent plodding in the running stride
- Develops strength and endurance of the quads
- Stretches the hip extensors, which include the gluteal muscles
- These benefits lead to a longer stride for faster, more efficient running.