High knees are a versatile fitness move. They require no workout equipment, minimal space, and can be done on their own or as part of a full routine. Because of the high intensity of this simple cardio move, it’s perfect for interval training—short bursts of intense movements followed by an active recovery.
In addition to strengthening the legs, high knees offer a major cardio perk. It might even be more intense than running because it takes so much energy to lift the knees up.
High knees might be a common move, but that doesn’t mean everyone does it correctly. The high intensity (and high impact) means there is more chance for injury if it’s not done right.
How to Do High Knees
As your feet connect with the ground for each step, stay on the balls of your feet. This will help you move faster and with more agility.
Pump your arms to propel the movement, using the opposite arm of your leg for each step. When you pump your arms, your hands should reach the level of your face. If they stay near your waist or chest, you are not pumping them enough and will have a harder time getting the knees up!
To help your balance, stand tall and keep your eyes straight ahead (don’t look down at your knees).
Your feet should be about hip-width apart. That means your knees are moving straight up and down. If they are too wide or too close together, you’ll risk tripping or possibly rolling an ankle.
The goal is to bring the knees as high as possible, but try to get the thighs at least parallel to the ground.
If this is too challenging and you need a move with a lower impact, try a march with high knees. Slow down the pace to a steady march, but continue reaching the knees up with each step.
To put these high knees to use, try this 12-minute cardio workout you can do at home!