Knee ups are a great intermediate-to-advanced level workout which, when done properly, will strengthen your hips, abs, core and legs.
The movement is fairly straightforward and only requires the use of a flat bench. It can be done individually, be added to a resistance training session or be included in a comprehensive core workout.
HOW TO DO KNEE UPS
Here’s a step-by-step procedure of how to do the exercise:
- Lie on your back on a flat bench with your feet touching the floor. Ensure your head is close to the end of the bench, but not hanging off its back. This is the starting position.
- Your arms should be slightly out to the sides and holding onto the back of the bench. Ensure there is enough space around the bench.
- Bring your feet up and place them flat on the bench. Make sure your knees are bent and touching.
- Place your hands behind your head and grab the bench with one hand on each side. Ensure your palms are facing each other and elbows are bent.
- Make sure your core is engaged. Draw in your navel and contract your abdominal muscles.
- With your abs still contracted, lift your hips/tailbone off the bench, contract your glutes, and extend your legs into the air. Lift through your heels and press your feet towards the ceiling such that the bottom of your feet is facing the ceiling.
- Now, point your toes towards your shins. Take a breath for a few seconds with your abdominal muscles still tight. Then, return back to the starting position by reversing the movement until your hips are touching the bench.
- Extend your legs up again and repeat the movement for the desired number of sets and reps.
KNEE UPS MUSCLES WORKED
The glutes also get a workout as you have to contract them as you lift your hips off the bench.
The arms, chest and upper back are secondary muscles that are also worked during the workout. They act as stabilizers when you grip the top of the bench during the movement.
KNEE UPS BENEFITS
IMPROVE CORE STRENGTH
The movement targets your abdominal muscles and this helps to improve core strength. The core comprises some of the hardest working muscles in your body.
These muscles are found around the pelvis, hips, abdomen and lower back. When they contract they assist with movements which require twisting, bending, pulling, pushing, reaching, standing and balancing.
PREVENT INJURIES AND BACK PAIN
Building and improving the muscles mentioned above also help prevent injuries and chronic low back pain.
IMPROVE STABILITY AND BALANCE
Having a strong core provides better balance and stability when performing daily or athletic activities.
KNEE UPS MODIFICATIONS
HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER
In order to make the exercise easier, reduce the distance between the bench and your hips during the beginning of the movement.
HOW TO MAKE IT HARDER
Using a decline bench instead of a flat bench, makes the movement much harder. This is because it puts your body at an angle thus requiring more balance and engagement of the core.
Also, you can increase the distance between the bench and your hips.
KNEE UPS ALTERNATIVES
There are many exercises that are similar to the knee ups and also work the same muscles. They include:
REVERSE CRUNCH ON A BENCH
- For the reverse crunch on a bench, lie on a flat bench and either place your hands under your glutes or by the sides holding onto the bench.
- Extend your legs straight out and this will be the starting position. With your knees bent, breath out and pull your upper thighs into your midsection.
- Continue the movement until the knees are near the chest. Pause and hold this contracted position. Breath in then return to the initial position slowly.
- Repeat for the desired sets and reps.
- For the leg pull-in, lie on an exercise mat and either place your palms under your glutes or face down next to you. Extend your legs straight out and this will be your starting position.
- Keeping your knees together, pull them in towards as you move your torso towards them as well. Ensure you lift your head, neck, and shoulders.
- Take a breath for a few seconds then slowly return to the initial position.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.
KNEE UPS ON A BALL
When performing knee ups on a ball, first you have to sit on a stability ball with your hands on waist and feet on the ground. Then alternate lifting your knees up.
THE BICYCLE CRUNCH
To perform the bicycle crunch, lie on your back with your hands placed behind your head. Now, bend your knees and lift the left knee slowly towards your chest.
Attempt touching that knee by raising your right elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat with the right knee and left elbow.
KNEE UPS MISTAKES TO AVOID
Do not lose the activation of your core during the exercise in order to get the maximum results out of it.
For the perfect form, resist the temptation to roll in towards your body at the beginning of the movement. Also, ensure your form stays tight and do not sway forward and back or side to side.
Do not perform the exercise if you are pregnant or experiencing any neck issues or low back pain. Try a different exercise or you can still do it but with the help of an expert trainer or physical therapist.
Do not continue if you feel any pain during the movement. Stop and review whether you are using the correct form. Consider asking your trainer for help.
It is important to strengthen and maintain a healthy core because it helps improve your athleticism, your performance of daily activities and staying injury free.
Knee ups will help improve your core strength as they work your abdominal muscles. However, you have to use the correct form to obtain maximum results and to avoid injury.