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How to Do High Knees

Burn Calories, Up Your Heart Rate, and Tone Your Legs With 1 Move

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock

Are you looking to add a bit more shape to your legs? How about strengthening your midsection? If you answered yes, we have the perfect exercise for you.

Strengthening exercises for the legs (our foundation) and the core will not only give you a more flattering shape, but it will help you with overall stability and even correcting your posture.

High Knees Please

If you've never tried this exercise, you are in for a treat. Considered a plyometric exercise, jump training will help strengthen your body and burn a lot of calories, moving you towards your goals even faster.


High knees works your calves, quads, hamstrings, shins, and your abdominal muscles. When more than one muscle is being worked at the same time, you will burn more calories than if you were just doing an isolation exercise such as hamstring curls, or crunches.

How to do High Knees
We asked certified personal trainer Heather Neff for her take on how to best do this move. She told us that "you'll definitely want to get in a quick three- to five-minute warmup to ready your muscles for this exercise and that you can run or march in place, along with performing a few dynamic stretches such as toe touches, side bends, and a few foot grabs to stretch the quads (do not hold the stretches)."

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

  1. Stand up straight and place your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Place your hands palms down facing the floor, hovering just above your belly button.
  3. Quickly drive your right knee up to meet your right hand, bring the same leg back to the ground immediately bring the left knee coming up to meet your left hand.
  4. As you are alternating knees, you want to do it with a hopping motion, staying on the balls of your feet the entire time.
  5. Make sure you are engaging your abdominal muscles as each knee comes up to meet the hands.

If That's too Intense, Try This

If you don't quite have your endurance built up yet, have knee issues, or are more of a beginner, don't fret. Neff told us that you can still target the same muscles with this variation of the high knees exercise.

How to do the High-Knee March

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

  1. You will begin in the same stance as the high knees exercise, with your palms at belly button height and facing down towards the floor.
  2. Bring your right knee up to meet your right palm, then lower the same leg down to the floor and repeat with your left knee.
  3. Leave the hopping part out and keep alternating knees while engaging your abdominal muscles as you bring the knees up each time.

Bonus: High-Knee Oblique Twist

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Make a fist with both hands and bend the elbows to where your hands are about level with your chin.
  3. Drive the right knee up, twist your torso to the right, and bring the knee to meet your left elbow.
  4. Immediately repeat with the left knee meeting your right elbow and do this in a hopping motion while staying on the balls of your feet.
  5. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged as your knees come up, squeeze the side oblique muscles as you twist.

You can add this exercise to any of your routines or do it as a stand-alone. Try to keep moving for at least 20 minutes at a time; if you can't do the regular high-knee exercise the entire time, switch back and forth between that one and the high-knee march. You can always work your way up to longer periods of time. Put on some good music, have fun with it, and go get those killer legs and abs.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography
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