How many calories do you burn with high knees ?

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Last updated on February 12, 2023

Calories Burned by High Knees

The high knee exercise is very effective at burning calories whilst remaining low impact on your joints and muscles. Harvard Health has actually published a paper showing that in 30 minutes you can expect to burn around 165 – 210 calories, depending on your bodyweight.


* This can vary greatly, depending on weight, age, sex, and intensity of exercise.

How to do High Knees

High knees are a great method of getting in some high intensity cardio in your day, without being too impactful on your muscles or joints.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, wearing comfortable shoes that have a decent amount of cushioning.
  2. Brace your core by flexing and “pressing” or flexing your abs, this creates stability in your core.
  3. Whilst remaining upright, start by lifting your legs one by one in a running type fashion, with the goal of lifting your knees to about 90 degrees in relation to your pelvis.
  4. It might be easy to hold your hands at this point to remind yourself as to how high your knees need to be lifted. If not, raise your arms up and down like you would when you would sprint.
  5. You might move around a bit, so make sure to choose an area that has space for you to do the exercise.


Muscles worked while doing High Knees

High knees are actually a pretty big compound exercise, especially when done correctly. The muscles worked are:


  • Calves
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductors
  • Glutes
  • Hip Flexors
  • Abdominals
  • Transverse Abdominals
  • Shoulders


Common Mistakes to Avoid

Mistakes whilst doing these are relatively easy to avoid as they don’t really require extra weight.


  • Keep your core stable, an unstable core can lead to injury.
  • Going too slow, the purpose of this exercise is cardio.
  • Not bringing the knees high enough. For reference, watch the youtube link above.
  • Not breathing. Goes without saying this can be very bad for you.
  • Not using your arms. They are part of keeping the momentum and stability.


Variations of High Knees


High Knee Skips

Instead of just raising your knee to your waist, you fling that knee up, and with this momentum you also jump. This may slow down the rate at which you do the exercise, however your intensity is much higher. You can also use your arms to help you in this variation. You can expect to burn maybe 10% more calories than normal High Knees.

About the author  Steve

Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

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