Knee Drives: How To, Muscles Worked,…

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There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing knee drives, what will the effects be?

Knee drives are an exercise where you start in a split stance position and move your back knee forward and upward. How fast you want to do this movement depends on your goals with the exercise.

Fast knee drives can help you strengthen your hip flexors (muscles that raise your thigh) in an explosive way to a certain extent. If you are more experienced with this movement you may need to do it weighted to see a lot of strength gain.

Slower knee drives are mostly good as a warm-up but they can help you strengthen your hip flexors to a smaller extent.

Both versions can help you improve balance and coordination. They will also get your heart beating at least a little faster than doing nothing.

In short, for most popular fitness goals you will find exercises that offer more results in a shorter amount of time than knee drives. You will still see typical exercise benefits when doing knee drives but to a smaller extent. This exercise can mainly be useful as a warmup, to strengthen hip flexors, or to improve coordination.

Whether you should add knee drives or alternatives to your routine ultimately depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.

How to do a knee drive

To do a knee drive take the following steps:

  1. Stand with one foot back and one foot forward. Hold your hands together over your head.
  2. Move the knee of the back leg forward and upward until your support leg is stretched and the thigh in the air is about horizontal. At the same time move your hands down so they meet the leg in the air.
  3. Move back into starting position.
  4. Repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.

If you want to do knee drives at higher speeds you may have to get used to the movement. You can start at a very slow speed and build up from there. How fast you want to do depends on your goals with the knee drive exercise.

To make knee drives more challenging for your hip flexors muscles you can wear ankle weights or loop a resistance band around your back ankle and a strong anchor close to the ground behind you.

How to do a knee drive

Muscles worked with knee drives

With any exercise you will almost always make a variety of different muscles work, especially with a compound exercise like knee drives. Even so, there are a few muscles that will have to work the hardest for moving and keeping your body in position.

Knee drives mainly work your hip flexors, the muscles that raise your thighs. Besides that, you will also engage a variety of muscles including inner thighs, outer thighs/hips, calves, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core, shoulders, and back.

The way you train your muscles influences what fitness component you improve. Knee drives at a slower pace will train either muscle endurance or muscle strength. At a higher speed, knee drives will work on your muscle power fitness component.

Bodyweight knee drives can help you build muscle to a certain extent. However, at some point you will have to make knee drives more challenging or turn to other exercises to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth.

Any progress is a nice addition but if you are serious about building muscle you likely want to turn to resistance training exercises with extra weights.

Knee drives benefits

This exercise will likely not be the fastest way to your fitness goals but knee drives can still offer you some helpful benefits. Some of the most important ones include:

  1. Can help with losing weight: Doing knee drives likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss.
  2. Stronger muscles: Knee drives are a type of active resistance training exercise that can help you strengthen your leg muscles.
  3. Improves mood: Exercise like knee drives promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
  4. Balance and coordination: Balance and coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Knee drives can help you with this.
  5. No equipment or location required: Since knee drives are a bodyweight exercise you don’t have to invest in equipment or be in a specific location.
  6. Improves sleep: Exercise like knee drives can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
  7. Slows down aging: Knee drives won’t influence how many days have passed since you were born. However, exercise can slow down the progress of certain aging markers that are correlated with negative health effects.
  8. Flexibility and mobility: Knee drives can push your boundaries when it comes to range of motion of certain body parts. By doing this you can gain some flexibility and mobility.

While inevitably many workouts are better for some of these benefits than knee drives, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.

Potential risks

The main thing to keep in mind is that knee drives can be hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, lower back, and shoulders even if you implement the right technique.

If you are sensitive or weak in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any ankle or hip pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing knee drives into your workout routine.

If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that knee drives are not (yet) for you.

Knee drive exercise alternatives

While knee drives can be a good addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training similar aspects of your physical health. Some of these knee drive exercise alternatives include:

  • High knees
  • Side shuffles
  • Weighted hip flexor exercises
  • Squats
  • Running

Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.


Many people will benefit from adding knee drives with the right technique to their routine as a warmup, hip flexor strengthening, or coordination training exercise. For both cardiovascular training and training other muscles, many exercise options are better but knee drives will help to some extent.

Another thing you need to remember is that doing knee drives can be hard on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, even if you implement the right technique.

If you are sensitive in these areas you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any ankle or hip pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more knee drives.

Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing knee drives is a workout you love, you can consider implementing this exercise anyway. If not other exercises can offer more benefits.

If you do decide to implement more knee drives make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.