Milo Bryant is a performance coach as well as an experienced journalist. He’s also in his 50s—and his book Unstoppable After 40 gives you the roadmap to do more than merely remain active as you "mature." Milo trains hard and recovers even better so he can do what he wants, when he wants. Get ready to use his methods to become unstoppable. This isn’t your dad’s middle age.
The high knee drill is the most misunderstood and poorly taught warmup exercise in the history of warmup exercises. Everybody seems to do it. But 99.99 percent of folks do it wrong.
There! I said it!
The use of this exercise is administered lackadaisically at best and injurious at worst, whether programmed by football and soccer coaches or personal trainers and strength coaches all over the world. Done properly, the high knees exercise uses the calves, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors as primary muscle groups. Your core must keep the torso tall and rigid. For the non-elite sprinter, the shoulders play an important role in arm swing. It’s not a stretch to say high knees is a total-body exercise.
High knees is an exercise that prepares the body to sprint with more efficiency. After all, the exercise is a sprint with an incredibly shortened stride length. Problems arise when the exercise is done halfheartedly. The body should vigorously reach the “figure four” position—femur equal or beyond parallel to the ground, reverse shin angle, toes pointing up, torso tall and hands at cheeks and waist—on each stride.
Coaches and trainers talk about knee lift ad nauseum. Better knee lift often equates to a longer stride length. If you cover more ground on each stride and point A and point B are fixed positions, you move faster between points.
Lifting the knee requires an inefficient thought process. Use the calves to enable the ball of the foot to thrust into the ground on each stride. That thrust takes advantage of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The opposite of the downward and diagonally behind thrust it upward and forward.
Get more thrust into the ground for better knee lift and a better warmup exercise.
How to Do High Knees
●Run forward 20 steps, lifting your knees so your thighs are at least parallel to the ground on every stride.
Best Coach Cues for High Knees
●Stay on the balls of your feet.
●Punch the ground.
●Vigorous arm swing.
Helpful Tip for Better High Knees
● Run up hills. NFL legend Walter Payton, my favorite player ever, used to run levees during his off seasons. I started running hills because of him. It wasn’t until years later that I understood the benefits. Everything I’ve talked about can be done by running up hills.
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