High knee exercise is a popular exercise among many sports. As a runner, you surely have seen somebody doing it, often as a part of their warm-up or as part of a workout. For example, we are used to doing a lot of high knee sets during workouts. We mix them with bounding exercises usually or other exercises that help your body become stronger and powerful. High knees are great, they are easy to do and have a special part of our routine. Let’s explore why many professional and amateur athletes include them during preparation.
1. They do not require any special equipment
This is a bonus, especially for runners who are busy, who often travel, and need something simple that doesn’t need a lot of organizing going on. Well, you can do high knees everywhere and you don’t need weights, bands, or other accessories.
2. Your Abdominal muscles get stronger
Your core is an essential part of your running. In order to run properly, your abdominal muscles have to be strong enough to “hold” your running form in place. Essentially, your core stabilizes your torso so you can spend less energy using other areas of your body like hips, lower back to compensate. Doing high knees will ensure your core is activated and you have a good balance while running.
3.Hip flexor muscles on point
High knees exercise will strengthen your hip flexors as well. What the hip flexor does is that it helps you to lift your hips, a movement that you repeatably do while running with each step. Although runners rarely think of it, it is critical to have a strong hip flexor in order to run fast and keep your form smooth for a longer time.
4. They improve your sprint and acceleration
If you are a fan of Track and field, you have probably noticed that during sprints like 100m, sprinters lift high their knees. In fact, the first few steps almost look like a very explosive high knee drive. This is because, in order to sprint, you need to lift your knees and create a powerful fast movement.
5. Engages your lower body in general
Think about your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps as well. High knees exercise makes you work on all these areas. This improves your lower body muscular endurance and will take you to the next level.
6. Achieving a better running technique
When you lift your knees more while running, you will use more force when touching the ground. This will help you to run faster and it can be very beneficial for shorter distance races. Marathoners with a poor knee drive can also benefit when they try to cover faster distances like 5k,10k, and half marathon. Note that we are aiming to make your knee drive going forward here, not upward.
7. It's good for your cardiovascular fitness
High knees exercise increases your heart rate and raise your body and muscle temperature. This is good for your cardiovascular system and it is a cool way to add another layer of fitness for your running.
8. You can do them at home
Especially in a time of COVID where often people find themselves in some type of quarantine, it is useful to have exercises that you can do at home. You can do high knees running in place and this is a convenient way to keep your muscles strong and your endurance in a fair condition while staying safe at your place.
9. They burn calories!
Of course, how many calories you burn depends on the duration of working out, your weight, and the intensity of the exercise. But roughly if you do high knees with vigorous intensity, you can burn between 350 up to 600+ calories for an hour, if you are anywhere between 55 and 100kg. This is pretty good, considering you don’t need the gym or any special equipment. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your home. What it takes is just your motivation, maybe some music and a good effort!
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