How to do high knees for strength and stamina

The high knee exercise has long been a staple of warm-up routines—and for good reason.

Raising knees in place will get your heart pumping and your legs warm and ready for what’s in your workout.

But don’t limit high knees to your warm-up; Incorporate them into your high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, use them throughout a long (mostly sedentary) workday to wake up your muscles, or do some reps in between to change up an otherwise tiring routine.

High Knee Exercise: Step-by-Step Instructions


Activities: Rough around the edges
Workout: Corredio

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Raise your right knee as high as you can (but at least hip level) while simultaneously bending your left elbow and raising your left arm in a running motion.
  • Now switch arms and legs quickly, run in place for allotted time or reps.

Benefits of high knees

There are only a handful of benefits that high knees offer.

1. Work multiple muscle groups

“[High knees] Work almost every muscle in your lower back, including your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves,” says Trevor Thimay, CSCS, senior director of fitness and nutrition at Beachbody.

“You’ll feel the burn in your shoulders and core,” he adds.

In other words, high knees pack a serious full-body punch.

2. Build strength and endurance

High knees are a form of plyometric (jumping) exercise, and as such, can help you build not only lower-body strength, but also cardiorespiratory fitness.

3. Prime the body for activity

Thanks to their full-body burn and cardio boost, high knees are a great addition to any warm-up routine. Throw them into the mix when it’s time to prepare your heart and muscles for your next run, HIIT session, or group fitness class.

4. Can be done anywhere

High knees can be fixed in your living room. Or in the park. or in your office. Or… you get the idea. Just clean a spot and get moving!

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