How To Do High Knees


Chris Freytag demonstartes High Knees

Don’t let the simplicity of this movement fool you: high knees can be a high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. Performing high knees gets your blood pumping while activating your core and strengthening your legs. Learning how to do high knees will fire up the entire leg, strengthen hip flexors, improve coordination and flexibility in the lower body and increase momentum in your stride.

In other words, if you’re sick of squats, try high knees for a great way to get a full-body workout or warm-up, plus a burst of cardio!

Use the links below to navigate this guide quickly:

How To Do High Knees

  1. Start standing with feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Lift right knee as high as it will go and raise the opposite arm, then switch quickly so left knee is up before right foot lands. Continue pulling knees up quirky for as long as desired.

The Benefits of High Knees

There’s a reason you did high knees in your high school gym! High Knee is a great move to use as a warm-up to a run or as part of a high-intensity interval training routine—it just depends on how high you lift your knees and how fast you go!  Here are just a few benefits of this convenient total-body exercise:

It’s A Cardio Boost

You can choose the effort you put into your High Knees, but no matter how you do them, you will get a great cardio workout. If you are warming up or just beginning to exercise, keep your knees a bit lower and go slower.

If you want higher intensity and can go harder, lift the knees higher and go faster. Of course, anything in between is also great!

Works Your Lower Body And Core

Your legs are moving and getting stronger with High Knees. This move is simply running fast in place, and we know that running is an excellent exercise for your legs!

To get your knees higher, you must also engage your core muscles, so High Knees is suitable for training your core strength.

No Equipment Needed

The cardio benefits listed are excellent but even better is that you can do this move right at home. There is no need to go to a gym or head into bad weather, no need to use dumbbells, kettlebells, or a stability ball; just find some space and get moving with your own body.

What Muscles Do High Knees Work?

High Knees is an excellent cardio exercise that works your legs and core while giving you a tremendous cardiovascular move that gets your heart rate up anytime, anywhere. 

If you’ve already been incorporating high knees into your workout routine, then consider switching them up with other high knee equivalents that can target similar muscles, such as Steam Engine, High Knee March, Butt Kicks, and Power Skips!

How Many Calories Do High Knees Burn?

People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. While we wish it were as simple as saying certain exercises burn a specific amount of calories, it generally boils down to how hard you’re working.

High Knees will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at a moderate to intense fitness level.

Just keep your intensity up and make sure you are breathing through your mouth. Bottom line—the harder you work, the more calories you burn.

Incorporating High Knees Into Your Workouts

High Knees is a great warm-up or full-body exercise all on its own! However, you can also incorporate High Knees into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to make that happen.

Use High Knees In a Bodyweight-Only Cardio Workout

You don’t need to go running or ride a bike to get your cardio in. You don’t even need to be in a gym or outside. Using basic bodyweight moves, you can get a complete cardio workout that is simple, easy to do anywhere, and more super effective. Try this bodyweight workout using high knees:

10-Minute Bodyweight-Only Cardio Challenge

Jog in place for 1 minute as a warm-up, then do each of the following for 45 seconds, with 15 seconds rest in between:

Repeat all 5!

Use High Knees In Your Circuit Training

Circuits are a fun way to exercise and get your strength and cardio in simultaneously.

The idea behind circuits is to go from one move or one “station” to the next with little or no rest in between. Check out this circuit workout that includes high knees:

Fat Blasting Circuit Training Workout

Move directly from one exercise to the next with little to no break in between. Rest for 1 minute at the end, then repeat the sequence.

Rest 1 minute. Repeat. Stretch.

Use High Knees In Your HIIT Training

High-Intensity Intervals are all the rage because they get the job done in record time. Go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then go hard again.

Here’s a super-easy way to kick butt with your high knees:

Hot HIIT Workout

Go through this sequence four times

Workouts That Incorporate High Knees 

Other Exercises Similar to High Knees

If you like the idea of getting a great cardio move right in the comfort of your own home, try these too!


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