High Knees Exercise Guide

Reviewed by Valerie Zeller Valerie Zeller Printable version

High Knees are a cardio-intensive exercise performed at a fast pace. It engages your core, strengthens all the muscles in your legs, gets your heart rate up and improves momentum, coordination and flexibility. Because of the many physical benefits, high-knees are incorporated into a wide variety of workouts. They’re also relatively easy exercises to perform because they can be practiced anywhere — no gym or equipment required.

High Knees

How to do High Knees


Walk with shoulders turned to sides. Slightly raise heel and extend knee of lead hip.


From a standing start, with your arms held out in front of you at shoulder height, start running on the spot as fast as you can by lifting your knees up to waist height for each stride.

Stay up on your toes and keep your back upright and straight, avoid leaning backwards and keep your arms as still as possible.


  • When you're in the first trimester, ask the coach if you're ready to do daily high knees. When you're in the second or third trimester, do your high-knees gradually, drawing your knees forward.

  • Taking things easy because it's the first time attempting big knees. As a tweak, march in position, gradually raising one knee to the chest and reaching with the other knee. It will help you grasp the motion.

  • When you've learned the fundamentals, step along in a jogging pattern as you execute the high knees, making sure to wave your arms at 90-degree angles to hold you upright.

  • When you have tight ankles, you should do a variation of high knees when lying down on the ground. Lay on the back with your heart clenched and legs stretched straight. Bring one knee up towards the chest so that.


  • Land and push off on forefeet.

Exercise Benefits

  • Cardio

  • Leg Strength

  • Glute Strength

Illustrated Guide

Learn how to do high knees from this step-by-step illustrations:

High Knees 1
High Knees 2
High Knees 3
High Knees 4
High Knees 5
High Knees 6
High Knees 7

Muscles Worked

The muscles used for high knees may change slightly based on the your trained range of motion and technique, but in the most general case, the muscles used for high knees are:

Primary Muscles

  • Abs
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hip Flexors

Synergyst Muscles

  • Transverse Abs

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles does High Knees work?
High Knees works abs, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors.
What is High Knees good for?
High Knees is beneficial for conditioning and to strengthen. It works the best for buttocks, core, hips, legs, lower body, lower legs, thighs, upper legs and waist, as it works abs, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors. High Knee is a great bodyweight exercise for men, men over 50, women and women over 50.
Is High Knee a good exercise?
High Knee is a popular bodyweight exercise for abs, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors.

Training, Progressions and Regressions

Interested in how to improve your High Knees faster?

High Knees Training and Progressions

Standards and Averages

Wonder how do others perform in High Knees and how should you?

High Knees Standards and Averages


Wonder how to work the same muscles with other exercises?

High Knees Alternatives


Wonder how to make High Knees either easier or more challenging?

High Knees Variations

Discover more

Muscles Worked

Target muscle(s) Abs, Calves, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Glutes, Hip Flexors
Synergyst muscle(s) Transverse Abs

Related exercises

Discover more