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How to Perform the High Knees Exercise Correctly

Want to learn how to do high knees? If so, you've come to the right place. This move is convenient, portable, and can be modified to fit any fitness level. So, read out!

Steven Hill
How to Perform the High Knees Exercise Correctly
Table Of Contents

Looking for a great cardio exercise that takes minimal space and equipment yet will have you huffing and puffing in no time? Then high knees are the move you need to add to your routine!

Often overlooked but oh-so effective, this tried-and-true classic exercise can be done anywhere - from your living room floor to a convenient patch of grass out in the park. It's quick, easy to learn, and can help elevate your cardio game in no time.

High knees are a surefire way to pump your heart and incorporate a great core and leg workout into the deal. This full-body exercise may look easy, but it packs a punch. Before you get too excited, let's dive into how to do high knees correctly so you can start seeing those results.

In this blog post, we'll cover everything regarding the high knees workout: what muscles it targets, how many reps you should do for different fitness levels, and how to ensure you're doing each rep correctly. So grab some comfortable clothes, and let's get moving!

What Are High Knees?

High knees are effective for improving cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and agility. It can be performed to help engage the muscles of the core, legs, and glutes.

When starting this exercise, performing sets of 30 seconds each and resting for 30 seconds between sets is recommended. As you progress in your fitness level, gradually increase the duration of your high knee sets and reduce the rest time to challenge yourself for even more excellent results.

It is essential to wear comfortable and supportive shoes while doing this exercise and perform it on a floor or grassy surface that offers adequate support. This will help prevent any potential injuries.

To do it,

  • Stand up straight on the yoga mat slightly more than shoulder-width apart, and your arms hanging relaxed at your sides.
  • Look straight ahead, open your chest, and draw in your stomach muscles to engage your core.
  • Taking a deep breath, bring your right knee up towards the center of your chest, a bit above waist level.
  • As you lift your left arm out in front of you in a pumping motion.
  • Exhale and lower both back to the starting position before repeating with the opposite leg and arm.
  • Continuously alternate between legs for maximum benefit.

Muscles Worked During High Knees

The high knees exercise an effective way to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. It is a weight-bearing exercise, meaning you must use your lower-body, core, and upper-body muscles to complete the move.

Specifically, the lower-body muscles which are most active when performing high knees include the quadriceps, glutes, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

Additionally, your core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis and obliques, are essential for stabilizing your body and properly executing the move while protecting your lower back from injury. Lastly, contracting the biceps and triceps while pumping your arms can help maximize the efficacy of this exercise.

Benefits of High Knees

The high knees exercise involves using your body weight to provide resistance, which helps the muscles in both your lower and upper body, helping you to prepare yourself for more challenging activities. This type of exercise has numerous benefits.

Increases Heart Rate

High knees are an excellent cardiovascular exercise that can quickly get your heart pumping and your breathing rate elevated. When you start to perform high knees, you don't need to wait long before feeling the effects on your body - it is almost immediate.

Your heart rate will increase, as will the speed of your breath, which can help you get to a higher level of intensity during your workout. You can also take Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements for optimized heart functioning.

Additionally, the motion of the exercise helps build muscular endurance by engaging and strengthening several muscle groups in your legs and core.

Burns Calories

High knees are an effective form of calisthenics which can be a great way to burn calories. When done with vigor, high knees can help torch a whopping seven calories per minute.

Those who prefer a more moderate workout can still expect to burn around 3.5-7 calories each minute. You can also take Fat Burner Supplements for a quick and healthy calorie burn.

It is important to remember that while high knees are great for burning calories, they should always be done with proper form and care not to overwork the muscles and joints.

Targets Lower Body

High knees are an excellent exercise for developing muscular endurance, balance, and coordination in your lower body muscles. The primary muscles targeted during this activity are the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and hip flexors.

Performing high knees at a higher intensity or with explosive knee drives can also help boost power in these muscles. Enhancing muscular strength in the lower body can improve overall physical performance and increase athletic ability.

Recruits Core Muscles

High knees are an effective exercise that can help improve overall core strength and posture. By contracting the abdominal muscles while running in place, the abdominal muscles become engaged and strengthened.

This activation of the core muscles helps stabilize the body and support good posture, making this exercise highly beneficial for health and fitness.

Variations of High Knees

Repeating the same exercise can get boring, so to keep yourself on your toes with unique and challenging exercises, high knees have a couple of variations to entertain their ongoing.

Lateral High Knees

Lateral High Knees

Lateral high knees is an exercise that involves running on the spot by lifting the knees to the height of the waist. The arms should be bent at a ninety-degree angle and kept swinging throughout the exercise.

With each stride, it is essential to take two or three steps to alternate between each side to get the full benefit of this workout. This exercise helps target muscle groups in your legs and core while also increasing cardiovascular endurance and agility.

Jumping High Knees

Jumping High Knees

Jumping High Knees is an effective and challenging exercise designed to help strengthen and tone the muscles in your lower body.

Jumping high knees is known to burn more calories than a standing high knees workout, making it a great way to get an intense cardio workout in addition to toning those hard-to-reach leg muscles.

To perform the exercise,

  • Begin by slightly bending your knees and extending your arms at your sides.
  • With a quarter squat, dip down and then quickly explode into the air, raising your knees towards your chest as you jump.
  • Aim to touch your chest with your knees to maximize the effectiveness of this exercise.
  • When you land back on the ground, extend your legs before repeating the move.

Common Mistakes While Doing High Knees

When working on High Knees, it is essential to maintain correct form and technique to prevent injury. Common errors include leaning too far back or forward, not flexing the feet, and improper arm swinging.

When it comes to high knees, doing them incorrectly is a common mistake. One of the most frequent blunders when performing high knees is failing to raise your knee high enough; if they don't reach the hip level, you might not feel the intended burn.

Another mistake people often need to correct is swinging both arms back and forth instead of just the front arm for balance and momentum. Additionally, bouncing around like a kangaroo by popping each leg too far back can cause form issues - so try focusing on good posture and keeping your feet close together for an effective workout.

Lastly, incorporating too much "flair" into your routine by exaggerating each step can add unnecessary moves that have no place in the exercise. So save your theatrics for after practice unless you're trying to participate in a cardio dance class.


The high knee is an effective exercise with all the fantastic benefits for bodybuilders. It helps in cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance, and agility.

It offers great benefits like increased heart rate, burning calories, targeting the lower body, and recruiting muscles. High knees work on the lower body, upper body, and core improving muscles like the glutes, hamstring, calves, quadriceps, and hip flexors.

There are some variations for high knees to help add challenges to your routine, and try different things like high lateral knees and jumping high knees.

To maximize your workout, it is vital to eliminate typical mistakes, like swinging arms or kneeling too forward or backward. It is necessary to make the workout accessible and convenient rather than messy for yourself. Give it a try today!

Article Sources

  • Thomas, K. S., et al. 'Home Based Exercise Programme for Knee Pain and Knee Osteoarthritis: Randomized Controlled Trial'. BMJ : British Medical Journal, vol. 325, no. 7367, Oct. 2002, p. 752. PubMed Central,

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Steven Hill

Steven is a passionate health & fitness writer. Steven has considerable research experience, but also enjoys writing nutrition and workout articles for general readership. Today, it's easy to find health and wellness information. People use many different sites to get the information they ne

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