High Knees

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:

  1. Phase 1: Keeping the arms at the sides, slowly lift the knees so the thighs are parallel to the ground.
  2. Phase 2: Add arm swing while maintaining the slow pace.
  3. Phase 3: Pick up the pace and lift the knees as quickly as possible while maintaining good overall form.
  4. 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.

Performance Points:

  • 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.

Training Specifics:

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.

Other Form Videos

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Form 101: Leg Movements

This segment focuses on elements of the leg movement that lengthen the running stride and increase turnover for faster running, and that promote comfortable, injury-free running.

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High Skips

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