High Knee Jacks: How To, Benefits,…

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It is often possible to modify existing exercises to get different effects. Discover how to do high knee jacks and what the benefits are.

High knee jacks are a jumping jack variation where you do the high knee exercise with your legs while you move your arms in the same way as regular jumping jacks.

This makes high knee jacks focus more on your hip flexor, glute (butt), hamstring (back thigh), and quadricep (front thigh) muscles.

It also makes high knee jacks just a bit more low-impact than regular jumping jacks which can be helpful for certain people and situations.

On the other hand, a potential downside of high knee jacks is that you focus less on your inner and outer thigh muscles.

The result of these things is that high knee jacks can be helpful for working your cardiovascular system, warming up, and improving coordination.

Keep in mind that personal preference matters too. If you like other cardiovascular exercises more than high knee jacks these can be great too.

How to do high knee jacks

Take the following steps to do high knee jacks:

  1. Stand upright with your feet together and arms by your sides.
  2. Raise one knee until your thigh is about horizontal. Let your lower leg follow gravity. At the same time, raise your arms sideways until they are about vertical.
  3. Lower your leg again and land with your leg slightly less than stretched. At the same time, raise your other leg similar to the previous step.
  4. Lower your arms sideways until they are back in starting position. At slow speeds, you can time this with your leg movements. At higher speeds, you do each of the movements at their own pace.
  5. Keep moving your arms and legs up and down for a certain amount of time.
How to do high knee jacks

You can try to time the high knees and arm movements.

However, this does not really offer any benefits while still making the exercise a lot more awkward to do at high speeds.

Besides that, high knee jacks are relatively straightforward. You do want to land with your legs slightly less than stretched for comfort reasons.

When you get used to high knee jacks, you can focus on moving faster to work your cardiovascular system more.

High knee jacks muscles worked

The main muscles you work in high knee jacks are your deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), hip flexors, glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), calves, and to some extent core muscles.

Because of the different directions of your leg movements, high knee jacks focus more on your hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstring than regular jumping jacks.

On the flip side, high knee jacks also work your inner and outer thigh muscles to a lesser extent.

It is important to note that the benefits high knee jacks offer in these areas are mostly limited to improving muscle endurance, slowing down degradation, and making the muscles healthier.

If you actually want to see muscle growth and strength progress, you want to turn to resistance training exercises instead.

High knee jacks benefits

It is true that the muscle engagement in high knee jacks is slightly different from jumping jacks.

At the same time, their positive effects will still be very similar to the regular benefits of jumping jacks. Some examples include:

  1. Can improve cardiovascular health: The intense movements in high knee jacks require your cardiovascular system to work harder. If you do this enough (but not too much), you can strengthen this system.
  2. Muscle endurance: High knee jacks will likely not grow your muscles but improving muscle endurance can definitely be a benefit too.
  3. Balance and coordination: The movements in high knee jacks will likely feel challenging in terms of balance and coordination. In turn, doing this exercise could improve your skills in these areas.
  4. Can help with losing weight: High knee jacks will likely burn more energy than what you usually do. Combining this with good habits in other lifestyle areas can lead to weight loss.
  5. Improves sleep: One of the things that can improve sleep quality and duration is a workout habit. That means high knee jacks can benefit these areas of your health.
  6. Improves mood: Doing exercises like high knee jacks tends to improve your mood by increasing the release of certain hormones.
  7. No equipment or location required: You just need your body to be able to do high knee jacks. That means you don’t have to spend money on equipment or time on going to your local gym.

It is interesting to see in how many ways a single exercise like high knee jacks can benefit your life.

High knee jack alternatives

High knee jacks still offer the benefits above but it is also worth noting that there are many exercise alternatives that offer similar effects.

If you like these options more, you can definitely consider them too.

  • High knees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Lateral raises
  • Running (in place)
  • Butt kicks
  • Side shuffles

Your personal preference and what muscles you want to engage will influence your decision between these high knee jack alternatives a lot.

Are high knee jacks a good exercise?

High knee jacks can be a good exercise to improve cardiovascular health, improve coordination, and warm-up. You could also get some progress in muscle endurance.

On the other hand, it is also worth mentioning that there are other alternatives that offer these benefits. Sometimes to bigger extents.

That means people who don’t have a specific preference for high knee jacks will likely want to choose one of these more effective exercise alternatives instead.

At the same time, it is still possible that you like the high knee jack exercise. In that case, choosing this exercise can make it easier for you to stay consistent with your workout routine.


What are high knee jacks?

High knee jacks are an exercise where you raise your legs alternately and move your arms sideways up-down at the same time.

What are high knee jacks good for?

High knee jacks are good for improving your cardiovascular health, improving your coordination, and warming up. Whether you prefer the muscle engagement of high knee jacks over regular jumping jacks depends on a few details.

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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.