The high knees exercise has long been a staple in warm-up routines — and for good reason.

Doing high knees in place will get your heart pumping and your legs warm and prepped for whatever your workout has in store.

But don’t limit high knees to your warm-up; incorporate them in your high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, use them throughout long (mostly seated) workdays to wake up your muscles, or pound out some reps mid-run to switch up an otherwise tired routine.

High Knees Exercise: Step-by-Step Instructions

Program: Rough Around The Edges

Workout: COREdio

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Lift your right knee as high as you can (but at least to hip level) while simultaneously bending your left elbow and raising your left arm in a running motion.
  • Now quickly switch arms and legs, running in place for the allotted time or reps.

Benefits of High Knees

Here are just a handful of the advantages high knees have to offer.

1. Work multiple muscle groups

“[High knees] work just about every muscle below your waist, including your glutesquads, hamstrings, and calves,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content.

“You’ll also feel the burn in your shoulders and core,” he adds.

In other words, high knees pack a serious full-body punch.

2. Build strength and stamina

High knees are a form of plyometric (jumping) exercise, and as such, can help you build not only lower-body power but also greater cardiorespiratory fitness.

3. Prime the body for activity

Thanks to their full-body burn and cardio boost, high knees make a great addition to any warm-up routine. Throw them into the mix when it’s time to prep your heart and muscles for your next run, HIIT session, or group fitness class.

4. Can be done anywhere

High knees can be done right in your living room. Or in the park. Or in your office. Or… you get the idea. Just clear a spot and get moving!