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How To Properly Do Carioca Drill? (Step-by-Step)

Would you like to learn how to do carioca drill?

In this article, I will explain how to properly do carioca drill and I will answer the frequently asked questions.

What is carioca drill?

Carioca drill is a running drill used for warming up and for improving running technique. It teaches to initiate the movement of the legs from the hips when running and increases the mobility of the hips. It also activates the feet and improves arm-to-leg coordination.

How to do carioca drill properly?

  1. Stand sideways to the direction you will be moving in, with your legs parallel to your shoulders, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Cross your right foot in front of your left and shift your weight to the ball of your right foot.
  3. Move your left foot to the side until you have returned to your starting position.
  4. Cross your right foot behind your left and shift your weight to the ball of your right foot.
  5. Move your left foot to the side.

Maintain balance with your hands and the arms should follow the leg movements.

Repeat the motions and move to your left until you cross the goal distance, and then move to the opposite side.


By raising the knee higher, you activate the hip flexor muscles more strongly and increase the range of motion of the hip.

Tips for performing carioca drill properly

  • The movement comes from the hip; the upper body should not rotate.
  • Find your own rhythm, while coordinating your arms and legs.
  • Be careful not to hit the ground with your heel because a carioca drill is performed on the balls of your feet.

It is important to focus on the proper execution of the carioca drill. If you are not able to maintain proper form, you will ruin your running technique, thus increasing the risk of injury.

Start with slower movements and gradually accelerate until you find your own rhythm. Maintain control of your movements throughout the drill.

Read more: Top 8 Running Drills To Improve Your Form [Video]

How to learn carioca drill?

Carioca drill, like all other running drills, requires skill and is not easy to master. It is an exercise that requires a high degree of coordination and movement control.

Be persistent as you learn.

Before you start doing the carioca drill you should learn the carioca walk, a simpler drill with similar movements.

The Carioca walk is an excellent starting point for beginners wanting to learn the carioca drill.

Start with easier and more controlled movements, and as your balance, stability, and body mechanics improve, increase the pace.

During the carioca walk, as with other drills, you should emphasize proper posture as well as an arm to leg coordination.

What muscles does carioca drill target?

The Carioca drill is an excellent warm-up exercise because it activates more than one muscle group. Carioca drill targets the following muscles:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • Hamstring
  • Calf muscles
  • Tibialis anterior
  • Core muscles

Carioca drill benefits

Besides being part of a warm-up routine before more intensive training or races, carioca drill also has other benefits.

1. Improves running technique

Carioca drill is a running drill that encourages upright posture and teaches you to initiate the movement of the legs from the hips.

In this way, the mobility of the hip is increased, and thus the stride is extended.

The Carioca drill also teaches you the proper foot position during a run.

The foot should be bent towards the shin, in the position of dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion enables the activation of calf muscles.

As you hit the ground the calf muscles will contract, allowing you to hit the ground with more force.

2. Improves neuromuscular effectiveness

Carioca drill improves communication between nerves and muscles by quickening nerve impulses that send signals to muscle fibers.

As a result, your muscles will have better coordination in more intensive training or race.

carioca drill

3. Increases hip flexor flexibility

Hip flexor muscles consist of several muscles that allow you to raise your knees up to your chest, as well as bend your upper body forward.

The Carioca drill stretches your hip flexor muscles.

4. Strengthens core muscles

The Carioca drill allows you to control your running movements by strengthening your core.

A strong core allows you to control running movements and stabilizes your body.

It ensures the force from the swings of your arms is properly transferred to your legs, thus improving your running economy.

5. Strengthens feet muscles

Carioca drill teaches you to run on the balls of your feet, and as a result, develop the strength to push off of the ground with more force.

Running on the balls of your feet shortens the time spent in contact with the ground, which then increases your speed.

In 2007 scientists from the Ryukoku University in Japan set up a high-tech camera on the 15-kilometer-section of the half marathon and used it to record 283 runners.

Research has shown that an average midfoot striker spends 183 milliseconds in contact with the ground, while an average heel striker spends 200 milliseconds in contact with the ground.

A shorter time of contact results in a faster run and higher running economy.

How and when to include a carioca drill in your training?

The Carioca drill is a running drill used in warm-up routines before more intensive training or races.

Also, you can use it after an easy jog, when you are not as tired, so you can focus on the proper execution of the exercise.

Carioca drill can be done by moving sideways 40 to 60 meters and then resting as you walk back to your starting position. It is important to make it in both directions.

Example of a warm-up routine before interval training (15 x 400m)

1. Easy jogging (15 minutes)
2. Mobility exercises and dynamic stretches (6 minutes)
3. Running drills – 2 x 60m (20m ankling, 20m high knees, 20m butt kicks – continuously), 2 x 60m carioca drill
4. Strides – 3 x 60m

Read more: Warm-up Before Running [Ultimate Guide]


Matea Matošević

Hi, I’m Matea! I’m an Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…