What are Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks, also known as star jumps is a full-body exercise that targets major muscle groups and is a great addition to any home or cardio workout. Jumping jacks is a form of plyometric exercise, which is a mixture of aerobic and resistance training.
This exercise can be used as a warm-up to rev up your cardiovascular system by increasing your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. It can be included in your cardio workout routines, or even used as a form of active rest!
Increasing your heart rate is one of the best ways to burn fat, and learning how to do jumping jacks along with their variations is an awesome way to burn fat and build muscles at the same time without weights. Research suggests that plyometric training increases muscular power and strength, especially developments in vertical jump height. Both aerobic and resistance training are the fundamentals of good physical health.
What Muscles do Jumping Jacks Work
Jumping jacks is an effective total-body workout that can be practiced nearly everywhere. It works on your heart, lungs, and muscles simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps. The secondary muscles worked are the abs, calves, hamstrings, and shoulders (anterior deltoids and posterior deltoids).
What Level are Jumping Jacks
This is a beginner’s level exercise that is suitable for all fitness levels. The movement path is very simple and it does not require much effort. Moreover, they are a great way to do cardio anytime and anywhere. Jumping jacks can be utilized as a low-impact or a high-impact exercise. Depending on your fitness level, you can modify the intensity.
How to do Jumping Jacks
- Start by standing tall with your feet together, your arms fully extended, and your hands are by your sides. This is the starting position.
- Exhale as you bend your knees slightly and jump your feet out to the side, just further than shoulder-width, whilst simultaneously swinging your arms up and out to the side and above your head. You can clap your hands at the overhead position.
- Inhale as you return to the starting position by bringing your feet back together and your arms at your sides.
- Repeat this movement between 10-100 reps for 6 sets.
Jumping Jacks Workout
This exercise can be used as a dynamic warm-up to elevate the heart rate or as a main cardio workout. In fact, a 2022 study suggests that neuromuscular warm-up has been shown to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.
- Beginners should perform between 10-20 reps, for 5 sets, 3 times a week.
- Intermediate level athletes should perform between 21-80 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
- Advanced level athletes should perform 81+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.
Jumping Jack Variations
Squat jacks can be a great addition to your cardio or full-body workout. Your legs will never be the same if you perform them at a high intensity! This variation includes an additional squat when you extend your legs and arms out to your sides, which will target your glutes, quads, and shoulders. To perform this you will:
- Stand tall with your feet together and hands down by your sides. Your torso is upright. This is your starting position.
- Exhale as you jump your feet out to the side into a sumo squat position. Your feet are further than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees until they are at a 90 degrees angle, whilst you simultaneously swing your arms up and out to the side and above your head. You can clap your hands at the overhead position. Keep your core tight.
- Inhale as you jump your feet back to the starting position, with your arms by your sides.
- Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps for 5 sets.
Plank jacks are a great tweak to the basic jumping jacks. This variation will put more emphasis on your core and shoulders as you would perform them by being in a push-up position. Your lower body muscles such as the adductors and glutes will also be targeted. To perform this, you will:
- Begin in a push-up position where your arms are shoulder-width apart with your shoulders being stacked directly on top of your wrists. Your feet are together and your core and glutes are tight to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
- Exhale as you jump and spread your legs wide to the side so that they are approximately shoulder-width apart. Keep your core and glutes tight to not let your hips sag down.
- Inhale as you jump your feet back together to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement between 10-20 reps for 4 sets.
Burpees is a compound exercise that works on many muscle groups in your body. This exercise is a combination of a push-up and a squat jump, which makes them awesome for developing strength, and endurance, while shredding calories. To perform this, you will:
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and arms by your sides. This is your starting position.
- Push your hips back and bend your knees to descend your body into a squat.
- Place your hands on the ground in front of you, directly beneath your shoulders at shoulder-width apart, followed by kicking your feet back into a plank position.
- Lower down into a bottom push-up position, keep your core tight and body rigid.
- Push back up to a top push-up position, followed by jumping your feet forward towards your hands.
- Explosively jump vertically upward, reaching your arms overhead. Land softly by bending your knees into a squat for your next rep.
- Repeat this movement between 5-20 reps for 4 sets.
This is another plyometric exercise that develops your main lower body muscles such as the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Training this will increase your speed and power, along with raising your heart rate and burning calories. It is highly recommended that you begin with using a lower platform, and as you get stronger, you can increase the height of the platform to create a progressive overload. To perform this, you will:
- Stand in front of a stable platform such as a plyometric box or a bench. Your feet are shoulder-width apart, and your arms are by your sides. This is your starting position.
- Inhale as you squat down by bending your knees and pushing your hips down, while simultaneously raising your arms in front of your chest.
- Exhale as your explosively push through the balls of your feet, and slice your arms down to assist in the jump. Your feet will be hovering above the ground.
- Land softly with both feet at the same time, bending the knees slightly to cushion the landing.
- Return back to the starting position and repeat this movement between 5-12 reps
Jumping Jack Benefits
Work The Whole Body
Jumping jacks works on your entire body which includes your glutes, hip flexors, core, and shoulders. It is a combination of aerobic and resistance training that develops your heart, lungs, and muscles all at once. You can use jumping jacks and other plyometric exercise in a superset such as the burpees to increase the metabolic demand of a workout session.
Performing jumping jacks at a higher intensity will increase muscle power, explosiveness, and body control. This exercise induces a high training heart rate, which can lead to calorie burn, and greater fat loss, which results in an increased metabolism where you burn more calories at a higher rate. According to research, plyometric training increases flexibility, muscle power, and lower body fat.
Increase Bone Density
Plyometric exercises such as jumping jacks, jump squats, and burpees are beneficial for your bone health. Research has suggested that doing ten to twenty jumping repetitions per day can increase your bone strength and improve your bone density. However, if the impact from the jumps is too much, try bending the knees to reduce the effect. Jumping Jacks could keep osteoarthritis and osteoporosis away!
The Takeaways: Do Jump Jacks To Boost Your fitness
Jumping jacks can be used in your routines as a warm-up exercise or even as a killer cardio workout. Whatever you choose, you can scale it to your fitness level by choosing the appropriate variation and performing it at the right tempo (speed of exercise).
This exercise brings a whole range of benefits and they’re simple to do. It’s a fun full-body exercise that cost you nothing, and the rush of endorphin release almost guarantees that you’ll feel good afterwards!
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I’m Pat Chadwick, a qualified Level 2 and Level 3 calisthenics coach and athlete from London, England, with six years of experience. I’ve competed in various UK competitions, including the Kalos Stenos Championships, where I achieved third place in the lightweight category. My passion is highlighting the beauty of calisthenics as an authentic and pure form of body expression. I believe that everyone has the potential to become a champion of their body and mind, and that calisthenics opens the door to personal empowerment.