Many people know that high knees can be a good addition to their routine but a question is exactly how many reps and sets you should do.
First of all, while high knees can be helpful, they are not essential. There are alternatives to high knees that could align more with your training goals and preferences.
The second important thing to note is that the guidelines for cardiovascular exercises like high knees are not as precise as weight lifting exercises.
You can adjust the recommendations below to your personal training goals, capacity, and personal situation.
An example HIIT high knees workout would start with 2 minutes (about 120 repetitions per leg) of light pace high knees to warm up.
After that, you would do 30 seconds (about 60 repetitions per leg) of vigorous pace high knees with 90 seconds (about 117 repetitions per leg) of moderate pace high knees.
Repeat these 30 and 90 second sets for about 8-14 sets (roughly 1536 to 2598 high knee repetitions per leg in 18 to 30 minutes in the entire workout).
How many high knees can the average person do in a minute?
How many high knees the average person can do in a minute depends a lot on the individual and how fast he/she is trying to do the exercise. That being said, here are some rough estimations for different speeds:
- Slow pace: around 60 pairs of high knees (so 120 if you count legs separately) per minute
- Moderate pace: around 78 pairs of high knees (so 156 if you count legs separately) per minute
- Vigorous pace: around 120 pairs of high knees (so 240 if you count legs separately) per minute
These estimations are inevitably not perfect but they do give you somewhat of an idea. These repetition counts will be used for the other estimations in this article.
How many high knees reps and sets to do
Something important to note is that high knees are cardio. The reps and sets recommendations and how long you should do them for certain goals are not as precise as the guidelines for weight lifting exercises.
You can find an example high knees HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout below but remember that you can adjust the reps, sets, and intensity for your training goals, preferences, and personal situation.
- 2 minutes of high knees at a slow pace to warm up (about 120 repetitions per leg)
- 30 seconds of high knees at a vigorous pace (about 60 repetitions per leg)
- 90 seconds of high knees at a moderate pace (about 117 repetitions per leg)
- Keep alternating between these 30-second and 90-second intervals about 8-14 times (roughly 1536 to 2598 high knee repetitions per leg in 18 to 30 minutes in the entire workout)
As you can tell, it is likely easier to track your high knee workouts by looking at the clock than actually counting the number of repetitions.
For goals like fat loss and cardiovascular health you want to push yourself hard enough but at the same time, not too much. One of the advantages of high knees is that you can choose your own pace.
If you are relatively new to working out it may be smarter to leave out the vigorous pace high knees for now.
On the other hand, as you get fitter, you can consider gradually increasing the time of the vigorous-pace intervals up to 60 seconds and reducing the duration of the moderate pace intervals to 60 seconds.
Additionally, with the number of calories high knees burn you can estimate how long you would have to do them to burn certain calorie quantities.
General cardiovascular exercise recommendations
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion also offers some very rough recommendations about the quantity and intensity of cardiovascular exercise per week. They currently recommend the following (1):
- Moving more and sitting less throughout the day
- At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Preferably spread throughout the week.
- You can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
Translated to specific high knees repetition estimations that would mean 11700 to 23400 moderate pace high knees or 9000 to 18000 vigorous pace high knees per leg per week.
How much rest between high knees sessions
By now you have a better idea about how many high knees you should do per workout and per week. You may also wonder whether you can do high knees every day and how much rest you need between sessions.
Again, the guidelines are a lot less precise. Most people can do light high knees sessions every day but at higher intensities, your body may need more rest.
If you are new to exercising you want to start with at least one day of rest between your workouts to get an idea of how your body reacts.
After that, you could try doing high knees more often if you can do so in a safe way where you don’t feel the bad kind of discomfort.