12-Minute, Low-Impact HIIT Workout For Bad Knees

15 Minute Workouts, Fitness, HIIT Workouts, Workouts, Workouts by Length

By: // February 14, 2021

So you want to do some high intensity interval training (HIIT) but your knees are in rough shape? Many people wonder, can you do HIIT with bad knees? Don’t sweat, you can do low impact HIIT that won’t aggravate knee pain.

Even if you can’t jump or do deep squats and lunges, this low impact HIIT workout for bad knees will still help you reap the benefits that high intensity interval training provides, such as:

    • Higher rate of fat burn both during and after the workout
    • Building cardiovascular endurance
    • Raising your metabolic rate
    • Spending less time working out but achieving equal results


While it is true that a HIIT workout often uses lower-body plyometrics and other high-impact exercises to raise your heart rate to anaerobic places, you can get around that by doing the following:

  • Engaging more muscle groups
  • Moving faster through your low-impact exercises
  • Adding something else to the equation—like hand weights! Using moderate to heavy dumbbells will allow you to keep your feet attached to the ground but provide an extra resistance challenge.

This workout was designed using moves that are protective of bad knees, some of which include holding dumbbells to give you that extra push of high intensity.

So here’s the game plan:

Perform each move as hard as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat. Continue this pattern for all 8 exercises, doing them each twice. (It will take you a total of 12 minutes.) If you’re feeling up to it, you can rest for a few minutes after completing the 12-minute workout and do it all again!

12-Minute Low-Impact HIIT Workout For Bad Knees

1. Front Kicks

how to do front kicks

How to do front kicks:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms bent and held in front of you.
  2. Lift right leg up, bending knee slightly, and kick right foot forward. Keep ankle flexed and push through your heel.
  3. Place the right foot down and switch to the left.
  4. Continue to repeat kicking with intensity and speed.

Go for 30 seconds. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

2. Push-Up Renegade Row

how to do push up renegade row with weights

How to do push-up renegade rows:

  1. Begin in a full plank with dumbbells in hands, arms extended, and on toes. (The kneeling variation is fine if you are not able to do a full plank). Engage your abdominals by drawing the belly inward towards your spine.
  2. Lower your body in a straight line toward the ground to a low plank without sagging your back, then push back up to plank.
  3. Pull right dumbbell up toward right hip bone, keeping weight close to your side. Slowly return it to the floor. Repeat the push-up and pull the left dumbbell to the left hip bone. Continue the push-up row alternating sides.

Go for 30 seconds. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

3. Lateral Shuffle

how to do lateral shuffle

How to do a lateral shuffle:

  1. Start standing with feet hip distance apart, slightly bend knees and sink your weight back into your heels so you don’t feel it in your knees. Bring both hands in front of the chest in guard position.
  2. Start with right foot moving right and left foot following. Shuffle right for four right-left steps, then move left for four left-right steps. Continue shuffling right/left for the desired amount of time.

Go for 30 seconds. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

Related: 10 Lower-Body Exercises To Combat Knee Pain

4. Sit-Up Press

how to do sit up press

How to do a sit-up press:

  1. Start on back with bent knees and feet on the mat. Elbows are bent and dumbbells are resting above the chest.
  2. Bring the head, neck, and shoulders off the mat sitting up, and extend the arms out long pressing the dumbbell forward. Return back to the mat with control.

Go for 30 seconds. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

5. Punching

how to do punching exercises

How to do punching:

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and bend knees slightly. Tighten the core to keep your center still.
  2. Punch out one arm at a time at a steady, intense pace.

Go for 30 seconds. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

6. Push-Up Punch

how to do push up punch workout

How to do a push-up punch:

  1. Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together, and your body in a straight line.
  2. Keeping your body straight, bend your arms to lower your body toward the floor.
  3. Straighten your arms to push your body back up into plank position as you punch your right arm forward. Return your hand to the floor, lower back to the bottom of your push-up and repeat punching with left arm.

Go for 30 seconds. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

7. Army Crawl

how to do army crawls

How to do an army crawl:

  1. Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together, and your body in a straight line.
  2. Bend your left arm so that it is now in forearm plank position.
  3. Then bend your right arm so you are in a full forearm plank position.
  4. Lift your left hand and place it on the mat directly below your shoulder as you push through your palm to lift yourself.
  5. As you reach the top, place your right palm on the floor under your right shoulder and push back into a full plank. Repeat, leading with the right arm.

Go “forearm forearm hand hand” for 30 seconds, moving at an intense pace. Transition to next exercise in 15 seconds.

8. Cross-Country Ski

cross country ski workout


How to cross-country ski:

  1. Start standing and step one leg forward, reach the opposite arm long. The other arm reaches back past your hip. The back leg will have a lifted heel and both knees are slightly bent.
  2. Jump to switch both legs and repeat using your glutes, legs, and shoulders. Repeat the switches quickly in a cross country ski motion.

Go for 30 seconds.

Rest for 1 minute and, if you want another kick, go back to the top and start again.

If you like this workout, Put a Pin On It! Save this pin for later to remember some of the best HIIT moves for bad knees. #PinForLater

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Workout Mistakes That Can Leave You In Pain

Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on September 10, 2020 at 3:47 PM Reply

This is perfect for what I was looking for. I’ve been doing cardio kickboxing and high intensity dance but my knees began to ache and hurt the past month. This is a nice adaptation for what I currently do, with less twisting in the knee. Thank you!

on April 6, 2018 at 5:31 PM Reply

Give me a break, if one can't do the kind of exercises that hurts one's knees, it's HIGHLY unlikely one can do three different exercises that are essentially full push-ups! Even at my fittest I could barely do more than a couple of regular push-ups. This list needs to be re-thought.

    on April 10, 2018 at 8:13 AM Reply

    Hi Leigh, sorry this article didn't meet your expectations. A lot of our audience has found success with this workout, but of course everyone is different. We always encourage modifications and listening to your own body so if this doesn't feel right to you, then of course you can skip or change it. We have lots of other low impact exercises and workouts you can check out if you're still looking for another option. Thanks!

on August 8, 2017 at 3:40 AM Reply

I am excited to try these...I had my right knee replaced about 8 months ago and these exercises are totally doable. Thank you!

on August 31, 2016 at 9:24 PM Reply

What about those of us that can't do these exercises? Most folks that I know that have bad knees are older and these exercises are way out of our range.

    on September 6, 2016 at 9:12 AM Reply

    You might want to try this one, Lori: https://gethealthyu.com/10-lower-body-exercises-to-combat-knee-pain/

on April 13, 2016 at 2:54 AM Reply

I am nearly 54 years old with a right knee which is giving me trouble. I am nearly 50 pounds over weight, have asthma and need help.

    on April 18, 2016 at 4:13 PM Reply

    Hi Sheryll - I hear you, joints do get old with age. But losing those extra 50 pounds will help reduce issues with your knee. Depending on the degree of your asthma, talk to your doctor about how hard you can exercise but the bottom line is to get started. Check out www.gethealthyutv.com - we have lots of great beginner workout to get you started on your journey to weight loss. Check out the Move to Loose and Walk & Tone programs. For less then $5 a month, we could be workout buddies!

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