There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing standing knee raises, what will the effects be?
As the name implies, standing knee raises are an exercise where you stand up straight and alternately raise one knee. If needed you can hold something for balance.
Standing knee raises are an exercise that is mainly for strengthening your hip flexors and improving balance and coordination. If you also bring your hips towards your chest and back you also get a small amount of core muscle engagement.
You may need to make the bodyweight version more challenging soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth. Another option is doing standing knee raises at a fast pace for more cardiovascular training. This is also known as the high knees exercise.
Whether you should add standing knee raises or alternatives to your routine ultimately depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.
How to do a standing knee raise
To do a standing knee raise take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart. Hold on to something for balance if needed.
- Slowly raise one knee upward while letting your lower leg hang down. How far depends on different factors like hip health but at your highest point you ideally want your knee to be at about hip height or higher.
- Return to starting position in a controlled motion.
- Repeat with the knee of the other side.
Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your hip flexors work hard and to avoid bad technique. Try to keep your body more or less in one line throughout the exercise.
If needed you can hold something for balance. The most important part of the exercise is that you slowly raise your thighs as far as comfortable.
You can make the bodyweight version of standing knee raises harder to see more muscle gain faster. The most convenient way to do this is to wear a good pair of ankle weights.
Other options include looping resistance bands around your ankles or holding weights like a dumbbell on the knee you raise in the air.
Another option is doing standing knee raises faster, the high knees exercise, but this is to make it more of a cardio workout. If that is your goal something like running or cycling may be a better choice.
Muscles worked with standing knee raises
Standing knee raises are mainly a hip flexor muscle isolation exercise. If you bring your hips closer to your chest and back you also engage your core muscles a small amount but this is not really the goal of the exercise.
Muscles like core, glutes, quadriceps, and erector spinae may have to work to a certain extent to keep your body straight.
The way you build muscle in places like your hip flexors is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but this damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.
If you stick to exercises with the same weight, as your muscles become stronger this same effort may not damage your muscles enough to promote extra muscle growth.
By adding extra resistance to exercises like standing knee raises you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time. If you don’t overdo it, give your body enough nutrients, and give your muscles enough rest this can in turn lead to faster and more hip flexor muscle gain.
Depending on your personal situation, workout plan, and training goals, standing knee raises may be a good or bad addition.
Standing knee raise benefits
Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding standing knee raises to your routine can offer you some helpful benefits. Some of the most important ones include:
- Stronger muscles: Standing knee raises are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your core muscles and make them stand out more.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing standing knee raises 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. Keep in mind that there are better exercise choices if weight loss is your goal.
- Improves mood: Exercise like standing knee raises promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
- No equipment or location required: Since standing knee raises are a bodyweight exercise you don’t have to invest in equipment or be in a specific location.
- Improves sleep: Exercise like standing knee raises can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
- Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries: By using one side at a time you reduce the risk of using one leg more than the other. This helps you avoid muscle asymmetries.
- Slows down aging: Standing knee raises 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.
- Balance and coordination: Balance and coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Standing knee raises can help you with this.
While inevitably many workouts are better for some of these benefits than standing knee raises, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.
The main thing to keep in mind is that standing knee raises can be hard on body parts like your back, hips, and hip flexors, even if you implement the right technique.
If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any hip flexor pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing standing knee raises 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 standing knee raises are not (yet) for you.
Standing knee raise alternatives
While standing knee raises can definitely be a great addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training similar areas of your physical health. Some of these standing knee raise alternatives include:
- High knees
- Balance board exercises
- Straight leg raises
- Mountain climbers
- Standing on one leg
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 standing knee raises with the right technique to their routine. You may need to make the regular version more challenging soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth and strength progress.
That being said, for goals besides strengthening your hip flexor muscles and improving balance and coordination, there are many better exercise options.
You also need to remember is that standing knee raises can be hard on body parts like your back, hips, and hip flexors, 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 hip flexor pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more standing knee raises.
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 standing knee raises is a workout you love, great. If not, other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
If you do decide to implement more standing knee raises make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.