When it comes to working out, two things are usually true. Firstly, people will be primarily looking to boost either their fitness, health, physique, or strength. Secondly, they will usually not know all they need to about the human body, so they will seek advice from sources like the internet or books.
Now, while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there are a few issues. Not only will people often overlook the stresses and strains that working out places on the body and how to stop them from happening, but they will also regularly seek advice from untrained and unreputable sources.
As a result, people will often develop unnecessary injuries or follow outdated advice. Take the idea that you should never allow your knees to pass your toes when you train. While many people will tell you that it is dangerous, in reality, it has a range of benefits that it can offer which are very useful.
From combatting pain to boosting your performance, knees over toes exercises are a fab addition to any workout, people just don’t know how to fit them in. Luckily, in this guide to the best knees over toes exercises and why you should include them in your workout routine, we will show you how to.
The Importance Of Knee Strength
Strengthening the muscles that support the knee is vital to maintain the health of the knee joint. Not only does it reduce the stress that is placed on the joint, but it also helps it to absorb shocks and stop any damage or injuries from occurring according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Exercise, especially exercises specifically designed to strengthen the knee, maybe the most effective way to help treat osteoarthritis without surgery. Conversely, while knee strengthening exercises help to combat these issues, weak leg muscles are highly likely to increase your risk of knee problems.
Knee-strengthening exercises do not directly affect the knee joint but instead, strengthen the muscles around it. Strong and flexible muscles around the knee can help to keep knees healthy and prevent injury while providing support and alleviating any pressure or strain on the knee joints themselves.
Knee strengthening exercises can also help to cure or reduce knee pain, improve knee stability and control, maintain or restore proper biomechanics in the feet, knees, hips, and spine, reduce the risk of injury, allow for a full range of pain-free movement, and ensure full function in the knee joints.
What Is Knees Over Toes Training?
Ben Patrick is the founder of Athletic Truth Group (ATG), and he has developed a knees-over-toes program that is designed to improve function, flexibility, and mobility at the knee joint. It has gained a great deal of support from various athletes and actors, such as Henry Cavill and Sam Heughan.
Knees over toes exercises are designed to mimic functional movements and they can potentially help people who suffer from lower limb pain or weakness. However, while they are fairly safe, things like limb length, flexibility, injuries, and form must be considered when doing knees over toes exercises.
Common Misconceptions About Knees Over Toes Exercises
While many people will tell you to never let your knee go further forward than your toes as you train, as it will add undue pressure and increase your risk of injury, this is actually untrue in most cases. In fact, knees over toes exercises can actually both boost your strength and protect your knee joints.
The main concern about knees over toes exercises in the past has been that it could be detrimental to the health of the knee joint. However, newer studies have shown that a full range of motion at the knee may actually be beneficial, so this past way of thinking is nothing more than a misconception.
Benefits Of Knees Over Toes Exercises
The range of benefits that knees over toes exercises can offer is quite diverse. That said, most of them revolve mainly around enhancing the health of the knees, reducing the risk of the issues that come from weak knees, and even combatting some chronic knee and joint conditions, like arthritis.
They can aid the strength of the muscles around the knee, prevent or combat knee pain and arthritis, and improve the function, flexibility, and mobility of the knee joint. However, they can also be useful for strengthening the ankles and other muscles in the lower and upper legs and the core as well.
The Best Knees Over Toes Exercises
So, now that you know what knees over toes exercises are and why they are beneficial, it is time to show you how to make the most of them. We will now show you the very best knees over toes exercises, explain how to do them and tell you the best way to work them into your own routine.
Backward Sled Pull
To perform a backwards sled pull, start by loading a sled with a moderate to heavy weight, then attach the upper body straps and pull them until they are taut when your arms are straight.
Start walking backwards by reaching backwards with your lead foot, planting the ball of the foot, and then driving through with it to propel you on each step. Start off moving slowly and then gradually increase your speed as you get into a rhythm.
Once you have reached the end of your lane turn the sled 180 degrees as quickly as you can and start going back in the other direction. Continue to do this for 10 minutes, which will constitute one set.
Forward Sled Push
To do a forward sled push, put your hands on the high poles of the sled with your hips hinged slightly forward. Keep your back straight, engage your core, and drive through balls of feet to push sled. Use small, slow steps at first, and then gradually get faster as you get comfortable and into a rhythm.
At the end of the course, immediately rotate the sled 180 degrees and begin pushing it back in the opposite direction. Continue doing this until you complete 5 full minutes, which equals one set.
Poliquin Step Up
To perform a Poliquin step up, put a wedge or weight plate on top of a box step, so that it is around 4 to 6 inches off of the ground at the highest point.
Beginners should start out assisted by holding a ledge, while you should go unassisted and use your whole body weight if you consider yourself to be of an intermediate skill level. People of advanced ability should not just be unassisted but they should also hold dumbbells to add extra weight as well.
Whichever group you are in, put your right foot on the wedge, so that your toes are pointing down, with your left leg hanging off of the platform to your side and just slightly in front of you, with your foot flexed and toes pointing towards the ceiling.
Bend your right knee to lower your left leg and go until you tap your heel to the ground and then immediately drive up to return to the starting position. Repeat this process 15 to 25 times, then immediately switch legs and repeat on the other side.
You should attempt to perform 3 to 6 sets on both sides, making sure to do the same number of reps with each leg in every set.
ATG Split Squat
To do an ATG split squat, put your left foot on a pair of weight plates stacked on top of each other and then step your right foot a long way back, until you get into an exaggerated split squat position, with your rear heel lifted, making sure to keep your chest up, back straight, and abs engaged.
Bend your left knee to lower yourself into a deep split squat. At the bottom of the position your front foot will still be flat, with your knee further forward than your toes, and your rear knee will be almost on the floor, with your leg at around 75 percent of its full extension.
Immediately drive straight up to return to the starting position and then repeat until you have done 6 to 8 reps. Immediately switch legs and match it on the other side, before taking a short rest and then continuing until you have done 4 to 8 sets on each leg.
Dumbbell VMO Squat
To perform a dumbbell VMO squat, stand with your feet together and your heels on a wedge or weight plate to elevate them off of the ground. Keep your chest up, back straight, and abs engaged, and hold a dumbbell tightly into your chest with both hands.
While keeping your torso perfectly vertical, slowly lower yourself down, keeping your feet and knees together, with your knees generating outward force, until you are in a deep squat, with both of your hamstrings touching your calves. Briefly pause at the bottom then drive yourself straight back up.
You should feel this in the inner thighs and VMOs, a teardrop-shaped quad muscle, and the reason for the name of the exercise. Perform 15 to 20 reps in a set and try to complete 3 to 6 sets. Continue to gradually add weight as you progress, to ensure it is always sufficiently challenging but not too hard.
To do a tibialis rise, stand with your back flat against a wall and slide both your feet forward so that your legs are at a 30 to 40-degree angle with the wall. Place your hands on the wall for support and lift your toes toward the sky until they are as high as you can get them, and you are on your heels.
Pause here for a second and then slowly lower your toes back down. Repeat till you have completed 15 to 20 reps. Take a short rest and then continue, with the goal being to complete either 3 or 4 sets.
Nordic Hamstring Curl
To perform a Nordic hamstring curl, get on your knees with a pad underneath for cushioning, and have your feet resting on your toes. You now either need to have someone hold your ankles to keep your feet on the floor or have access to some other type of anchor made of fixed equipment.
Tuck your chin and pelvis, maintain a straight line from your head to your knees, and then engage your core, glutes, and hamstrings. Keeping your toes firmly on the floor, slowly lower your body to the ground like a lever, maintaining that straight line from your head to your knees.
Try to lower yourself as close to the floor as you can get but keep your hands in position to catch you if your hamstrings can’t hold out any longer. Engage your glutes and hamstrings and use them to pull you back up to the starting position. If needed, you can push off the ground a little with your hands.
Repeat this process until you have completed between 5 and 10 reps, then take a short rest before carrying on and finishing 3 to 4 sets.
Hip Flexor Lift
To do a hip flexor lift, attach a light dumbbell to a ratchet based shoe attachment, then fix it to your right foot while the left is on a weight plate. Step your right foot back a step or two and then flex it, so that the toes are slightly raised, and then drive your right knee up until it is parallel to hips.
Pause here for a second and use your hands and arms to counterbalance if you need, before slowly lowering it back down to the floor. Repeat until you have completed 20 reps, then switch legs and do the same on the other. Rest for a moment then carry on until you have done 3 to 4 sets on both legs.
Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Stretch
To perform a rear foot elevated hip flexor stretch put a mat or pad parallel to a flat bench. Stand in front of the pad and then bend your left knee, reach your foot back slightly, and place the top of your foot on the bench. Now lower that knee to the pad, keeping your upper body perfectly upright.
Engage your quad and glute, place your hands on your right knee, and slowly lean backwards and forwards a few degrees. Hold the position for 40 to 60 seconds, then switch legs and match the time on the other leg. Try to perform 3 to 4 sets on each leg.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Knees Over Toes Exercises
Before we conclude our guide on the best knees over toes exercises and why you should include them in your workout routine, I want to go over some of the most frequently asked questions that people have about knees over toes exercises, to ensure everyone has all the info that they need.
Are Knees Over Toes Exercises Safe?
Despite what you may have heard, knees over toes exercises are absolutely safe for the majority of people. While outdated science suggests they put too much strain on the knee joints, more recent evidence proves that they can actually boost the health of the knees and benefit them in many ways.
Is Knees Over Toes Worth It?
Knees over toes exercises are worth doing, no matter what your goals may be, as they can strengthen the entire region, preventing damage, while relieving pain and enhancing knee mobility and function.
What Muscles Do Knees Over Toes Work?
Knees over toes exercises primarily work the muscles in the legs that connect to the knees, but they can also be beneficial for the other muscles throughout the upper and lower legs, as well as the core.
Final Thoughts On Knees Over Toes Exercises
Knee strength is extremely important to reduce stress, prevent injury, and treat osteoarthritis. Not only that but strong muscles around the knee can improve your stability and biomechanics, while weak leg muscles increase your risk of knee problems, and knee strengthening helps combat that.
Knee strengthening exercises provide knee support, reduce pain, and improve joint function. Knees over toes exercises are a perfect example of this, as they mimic functional movements and may help with lower limb issues, making them a fabulous way to help people strengthen their knee joint.
While you must consider things like limb length, flexibility, and past injuries before doing knees over toes exercises, they are safe and effective for most people. This guide will hopefully have given you all of the information you need to fit them into your own workout and see these benefits for yourself.