Can Knees Over Toes Training Bulletproof Your Joints?
Is knees over toes training really the secret to stronger joints & more powerful training?
If you haven’t heard about knees over toes training, prepare to challenge everything you thought you knew about knee health. The phenomenon is making waves in gym circles (spearheaded by Ben Patrick aka “Knees Over Toes Guy”). But is it legit? Can training this way really bulletproof your joints, protect you from injury, and help you be a stronger athlete?
What is knees over toes training?
For decades, we’ve been told not to let our knees go over our toes in bodyweight or strength movements (despite it happening when we walk up and down stairs!) Knee over toes training is based around intentionally putting the knee over or beyond the toes under load.
How to do knees over toes training
Knees over toes training can be incorporated into your existing calisthenics, functional, or bodybuilding workouts. Or you can dedicate entire sessions to strengthening your knees in this way.
Start with reverse direction work, such as dragging a weighted sled backwards or running/fast walking backwards on an inline.
Then move to loaded exercises like Nordic hamstring curls, Bulgarian split quads and weighted step ups.
Knees over toes training also includes plenty of stretching for the calves, hamstrings, hip flexor and glutes.
What’s the science of knees over toes training?
It’s been nearly 45 years since that outdated research paper put the fear of God into us about sending our knees over our toes. More modern research strongly suggests that knees over toes is a natural and important physical ability that protects joints, leads to better sporting performance, and reduces risk of pain.
In 2013, this study looked at 164 research paper to conclude that full knee bend doesn’t increase your risk of knee injury, and in fact protects against injury. This 2016 paper showed that impaired ankle mobility and knee disorders go hand in hand (just to mix up our body part metaphors). And another 2016 paper showed that the further subjects’ knees bent in a step-down test, the better they recovered from ACL surgery.
Does knees to toes training benefit the rest of your body?
Fans of knees over toes training report that it actually helps strengthen and balance ankles, hips and shoulders too, which makes sense when you think of the body as a connected system of joints.
Top tips for knees over toes training
Send your knees well over your toes. With split squats, go beyond your typical range and get your rear knee to the ground. With squat variations, to as ATG as you can.
Range first, strength second. Knees over toes training is all about range and angles, rather than load. Add load once you have the range sorted.
Train different planes of movement. Knees over toes training places your knees under load from side to side, front to back, backwards and explosively upwards.
Work from the ground up. Traditional weight training places the load on the top of the body, but knees to toes training works from the feet, ankles, and knees upwards.
Train speed as well as load and movement. Knees to toes training always includes increasing pace and explosive exercises.
10 examples of knees over toes exercises
The best knees over toes exercises allow you to safely load your knees and ankles at high effort. This style of training lends itself very well to calisthenics and functional training, using bodyweight or functional fitness tools. Here are some exercises you can use to start knees over toes training.
Backward sled pulling
Lunges and walking lunges
Bulgarian spilt squats
Click below to discover our best unconventional and functional fitness products to help you add knees over toes training to your workouts.