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Freeletics Exercises: High Knees


High Knees is a cardio-intensive exercise performed at speed to get your heart rate up, strengthen your legs, engage your entire body, and burn a lot of calories.

And that is not all, they are also a brilliant move to improve power and coordination, accelerating you towards your health and fitness goals.

What are High Knees?

Essentially, the movement involves running on the spot with your arms moving up and down beside you – imitating running. At the same time, as the name suggests you need to lift your knees to your hip level or slightly above.

Because of the many physical benefits they offer, High Knees are incorporated into a wide variety of workouts and Dynamic Warmup routines, and because more than one muscle is being worked at the same time, you’ll burn more calories and elevate your heart rate quicker.

What muscles do High Knees target?

The High Knees exercise will engage multiple muscle groups including your core, hip flexors, and leg muscles, working your calves, quads, and hamstrings.

How do I properly perform High Knees?

Requiring little space and no equipment, to perform High Knees you need to start in a standing position, with your feet hip-width apart. Bring one knee up above hip level towards your chest and switch to lift the other knee, alternating legs.

Your arms play an important role in this exercise and you should be using them to help maintain your balance and rhythm as you would in a sprint or fast run. Imagine you have a pole connecting your hand to your opposite knee. As you bring one knee up, your opposite hand should be moving up at the same time. As you bring your knee down and put your foot back to the floor, your opposite hand comes down as well.

Continue the movement at the desired pace, counting each rep when your knee is above the hip level, with one side counting as one repetition.

Remember that you can always check the tutorial videos in the Freeletics app to see High Knees demonstrated at full speed, half-speed, and from multiple angles.

Additional things to keep in mind when training

As with all exercises, form and technique are crucial to avoid injury. When it comes to High Knees, common mistakes include leaning too far forward or backward, not flexing your feet, and swinging your arms forward.

To avoid doing these things, or perfect your technique, you should focus first on mastering Skipping Jumps, which are a similar movement but don’t require bringing your knees up to hip level. You can then progress to performing High Knees at a slower pace.


High knees are beneficial for you to do no matter what your health and fitness goals are. They are particularly useful for runners or those who like endurance training and advantageous for those looking to engage all parts of their body to make everyday activities easier.

They’re also regularly used in HIIT or circuit training or by those who are preparing for sporting events or exercise sessions which involve running, jogging, or walking.

Exercise overview by David Weiner, Training and Nutrition Specialist