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How To Properly Do High Knee March Drill? (Step-by-Step)

What is high knee march?

High knee march is a running drill used for warming up and for learning more complex running drills. It improves running technique by teaching you to raise knees, maintain posture and proper foot placement, as well as coordinate your arms and legs.

How to do the high knee march properly?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Step with your left foot by raising your knee to hip height while standing on your right leg.
  3. Lower your left foot below your center of mass.
  4. Raise your right foot and repeat the movement.
  5. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the high knee march your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing high knee march properly

  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Avoid rotating your body, focus your motions on the direction you are moving in.
  • Pay attention to the fluidity of movements; make sure not to pause between steps.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

It is important to focus on the proper execution of the high knee march.

If you are not able to maintain proper form, you will ruin your running technique, thus increasing the risk of injury. Maintain control of your movements throughout the drill.

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

What muscles does high knee march target?

A high knee march activates more than one muscle group. High knee march targets the following muscles:

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

High knee march benefits

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

1. Improves running technique

High knee march is a running drill that teaches you to maintain posture, raise your knees, and coordinate your arms and legs, which results in improvements to your running technique.

High knee march 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. Used in learning more complex running drills

Due to its simplicity, the high knee march is an excellent exercise for teaching more complex running drills, such as A-skip or high knees.

3. Improves neuromuscular effectiveness

High knee march 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.

4. Strengthens and stretches hip flexors

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.

High knee march simultaneously strengthens and stretches your hip flexor muscles.

Research has shown that weaker hip flexor muscles lead to injury. Injuries happen not only because we forget to strengthen our hip flexors, but also because we weaken them and shorten them through everyday actions.

How and when to include a high knee march in your training?

A high knee march 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.

High knee march can be done in place or by moving forward 20 to 40 meters and then resting as you walk back to your starting position.

Example of a warm-up routine before interval training (12 x 400m)

1. Easy jogging (10 minutes)
2. Mobility exercises and dynamic stretches (6 minutes)
3. Running drills – 2 x 40m high knee march, 2 x 40m A-skip, 2 x 40m high knees
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…