High Knees: How to Increase Your Heart Rate and Strengthen Your Legs

High Knees: How to Increase Your Heart Rate and Strengthen Your Legs
  • May 04, 2023
  • 6 Min Read
  • Views: 109

Are you looking for a workout that will get your heart rate up and strengthen your legs at the same time? Look no further than high knees! High knees are a popular exercise that can help you achieve both of these goals. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of high knees, how to perform them properly, and how to incorporate them into your workout routine.

What are high knees?

High knees are a plyometric exercise that involves running in place while lifting your knees as high as possible. The movement mimics the motion of running, but with an added emphasis on lifting your knees high. This exercise is often used as a warm-up before more intense workouts or as a cardio exercise in its own right.

Benefits of high knees

There are several benefits to incorporating high knees into your workout routine:

  • Increases heart rate: High knees are an excellent cardio exercise that can get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.
  • Improves leg strength: The repeated lifting of your knees works your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, which can lead to stronger legs over time.
  • Burns calories: Because high knees are a high-intensity exercise, they can burn a significant number of calories in a short amount of time.
  • Enhances coordination: The constant lifting and lowering of your knees requires coordination and balance, which can improve over time with practice.
  • Low-impact exercise: High knees are a low-impact exercise that puts less stress on your joints than other high-intensity exercises like jumping jacks or burpees.

How to perform high knees

To perform high knees, follow these steps:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Begin running in place, lifting your knees as high as you can while pumping your arms.
  3. Continue running in place for 30-60 seconds, focusing on lifting your knees as high as possible and maintaining good form.
  4. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 sets.

Common mistakes to avoid when performing high knees

To avoid injury and get the most out of your high knees, make sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Lifting your heels: Make sure to keep your weight on the balls of your feet and avoid lifting your heels off the ground.
  • Looking down: Keep your head up and your eyes forward to avoid straining your neck.
  • Swinging your arms: Your arms should move in a natural running motion, but avoid swinging them excessively or crossing them over your body.
  • Overextending your knees: Lift your knees as high as you can without overextending your legs or hips.

Modifications for high knees

If you’re new to high knees or need to modify the exercise for any reason, try these variations:

  • Slow down: Instead of running in place, march in place and lift your knees as high as you can.
  • Reduce impact: Instead of jumping with both feet, step up onto a platform or step and alternate lifting each knee.
  • Focus on form: Slow down and focus on lifting your knees as high as possible, even if you can only lift them a few inches off the ground.

How to incorporate high knees into your workout routine

High knees can be incorporated into your workout routine in several ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Warm-up: Use high knees as a warm-up exercise before a more intense workout.
  • Cardio: Add high knees to your cardio routine to increase your heart rate and burn more calories.
  • Circuit training: Include high knees in a circuit training workout, alternating with other exercises like jumping jacks or mountain climbers.
  • Tabata: Incorporate high knees into a Tabata workout, doing 20 seconds of high knees followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.

Tips for maximizing the benefits of high knees

To get the most out of your high knees, keep these tips in mind:

  • Focus on form: Make sure you are lifting your knees as high as possible and maintaining good form.
  • Increase intensity: As you get more comfortable with high knees, try increasing the speed or duration of the exercise.
  • Mix it up: Incorporate different variations of high knees or combine them with other exercises to keep your workout fresh and challenging.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated and prevent cramping.

Precautions and considerations when doing high knees

While high knees are generally a safe and effective exercise, there are a few precautions and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Start slow: If you’re new to high knees, start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercise.
  • Wear appropriate footwear: Make sure you’re wearing supportive, comfortable shoes that provide good traction and stability.
  • Listen to your body: If you experience any pain or discomfort while doing high knees, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional.
  • Consider your fitness level: If you have any underlying health conditions or are pregnant, consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating high knees into your workout routine.


High knees are a versatile exercise that can help increase your heart rate and strengthen your legs. By focusing on good form and incorporating high knees into your workout routine, you can reap the many benefits of this effective exercise.


  1. How many calories can I burn doing high knees?
  • The number of calories burned during high knees depends on your weight and intensity level, but on average, you can expect to burn around 150-200 calories in 15 minutes.
  1. Can I do high knees if I have knee pain?
  • If you have knee pain, high knees may not be the best exercise for you. Consult with a healthcare professional for guidance on appropriate exercises.
  1. How often should I do high knees?
  • The frequency of high knees depends on your fitness level and goals. As a general guideline, aim to do high knees 2-3 times per week.
  1. Can I do high knees without running in place?
  • Yes, there are several modifications to high knees that can be done without running in place, such as marching in place or stepping up onto a platform.
  1. Do high knees help with weight loss?
  • High knees are a high-intensity exercise that can help burn calories and aid in weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise routine.