11 Benefits Of The High Knees Exercise

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Exercising more can offer many health benefits. Find out what specific advantages high knees offer to figure out whether they are for you.

One thing to note first is that high knees can also be challenging on your ankles. Some people may benefit from starting with softer alternatives to high knees first.

1. High knees can improve muscle endurance

Since you move a variety of joints, there are many muscles that have to work while you are doing the high knees exercise.

More precisely, some of the main muscles worked with high knees are your:

  • Hip flexors (front hips)
  • Glutes (butt)
  • Hamstrings (back thigh)
  • Calves
  • Quadriceps (front thigh)
  • Front deltoids (shoulders)
  • Latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back)
  • Biceps (front upper arms)
  • To some extent core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae

Something important to note is that high knees are mainly cardio.

That means this exercise will mostly be challenging for your cardiovascular system. You will likely not really build any muscle with high knees.

That being said, engaging your body with high knees can still offer other muscle-related benefits. These include improving muscle endurance, making the muscles healthier, and slowing down degradation.

To get these effects to a larger extent, you could theoretically wear close-fitting ankle weights while doing high knees.

2. High knees exercise technique is relatively easy

There are some sports and workouts where you really have to spend some time improving your technique.

Not doing this could lead to injuries and/or prevent you from getting the most out of the activities.

This tends to be a downside because it means you will not be able to get the full health benefits right ways.

However, if you look at how to do high knees, it becomes clear that this exercise is relatively straightforward in terms of technique.

You just have to pay attention to keeping your body upright and not fully stretching your legs and you are good to get the other valuable benefits on this list.

3. High knees can help you lose weight

Losing weight requires you to use up more energy than is coming in from the foods in your diet.

High knees can help with this because the intense movements require more energy than more standard daily activities.

How many calories high knees burn is hard to predict perfectly but some rough estimations can already be helpful.

Doing high knees for 30 minutes can help the average person burn around 177 – 305+ calories depending on many details like weight, intensity, and much more.

One thing to note is that there are also other activities like running that offer even more results in this area.

Additionally, no matter what workout you choose, your habits in other areas like your nutrition will influence your weight loss results a lot.

How many high knees you should do to lose certain amounts of weight without any other lifestyle changes is high.

4. High knees can improve your cardiovascular health

If you give a few rounds of high knees a try, you will likely notice that the reason you can’t continue is you getting out of breath.

High knees are a cardiovascular workout which means they really challenge your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

These body parts are responsible for transporting a variety of substances throughout your body. This has to happen at a higher rate when doing high knees.

This is a benefit of high knees because challenging your cardiovascular system to safe extents can help you strengthen it. In turn, you reduce your risk of a variety of related conditions (1, 2, 3).

5. You can do high knees anywhere

There are many exercises and workouts that require you to spend some time going to a different location.

If you count up these extra minutes you have to spend on this over time, you can conclude that this is not preferable.

Instead, you can choose an activity like high knees that you can do basically anywhere.

All you have to do is free up a few minutes throughout the day and you can get in a few nice workouts with the high knees exercise.

6. Doing high knees can improve your mood

Your mood may feel like a very mental thing but there are a variety of physical processes that influence it too.

More specifically, doing exercises like high knees could improve your mood in different ways.

One reason for this is that exercise tends to increase the amounts of endorphins you release (4, 5, 6). This should improve your mood.

Additionally, making your body healthier with something like high knees can help you avoid negative conditions that would make you feel worse.

7. High knees offer a full-body warmup

While it is helpful if the exercise itself offers all of the benefits, sometimes making other movements go more smoothly can be an advantage in itself.

As mentioned, high knees engage a variety of muscles and joints. Especially if you really swing your arms back and forth.

Doing this warms up the body parts you engage which tends to be helpful for avoiding injuries and improving performance.

In simpler words, you can use high knees as a warmup exercise before other workouts to make these go better.

8. High knees can improve your cognitive performance

As briefly mentioned, mental processes are often influenced by your physical habits too.

First of all, consistently doing exercises like high knees seems to be effective against conditions of cognitive decline (7).

Additionally, working out seems to benefit brain plasticity (8, 9, 10).

In turn, brain plasticity seems to help with learning things faster, seeing the connection between information points more quickly, and being able to remember things better.

In simpler words, doing more high knees could help you in areas like academic performance, job performance, and making witty remarks.

9. Slows down aging

Most people only see age as the amount of time that passed since the day they were born.

And while this chronological age can still be useful for certain areas, you can also look at age in different ways.

More specifically, there are ways to measure “age” based on physiological factors (11).

Doing workouts like a high knees session will not influence chronological age but can slow down these other aging measurement methods (12, 13, 14).

The other age measurements are not perfect (yet) but they seem to be relatively closely related to your risk of a variety of conditions.

In simpler words, slowing down aging measurements with exercise like high knees can potentially make you healthier than your chronological age would suggest.

10. You don’t need a fitness budget to do high knees

Many types of exercise require you to invest at least some amount of money.

This can start with something simple like a jump rope but also go up to thousands of dollars for a specific bike.

Luckily, there are also ways to get in better shape that don’t require you to have a big budget.

In fact, high knees can help you improve your cardiovascular health and offer all the other benefits without investing any money at all.

11. High knees can improve your coordination

You can describe coordination as moving your body parts as intended.

While it may feel that some people are just not good in this area, coordination is a trainable skill to some extent.

High knees require you to time the movements of your arms and legs with each other to stay balanced.

If these movements are challenging enough for you, that would make it so high knees can benefit your coordination slightly.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.