Want to give your hip flexors, glutes and quadriceps a solid workout while also enjoying the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise? Jumping jacks are a great way to do both while also training your body for swifter runs and soaring jumps. This makes them ideal for track athletes.
Performing a basic jumping jack is simple:
1. Get into a basic standing posture with your arms at your sides. Your feet should be together.
2. Jump, and as you do, split your legs apart so that your feet land at about shoulder-width. Simultaneously arc your arms up to the sides and above you.
3. Jump again, returning to the starting position as you land.
4. Rinse and repeat.
It’s that easy! Performing the same basic jumping jacks over and over can get a bit monotonous, however. If you want to switch things up, you can give some of these jumping jack variations a try.
1. Press Jack
This exercise is performed much like a basic jumping jack, with the addition of a weight. It does not necessarily need to be an actual weight-lifting weight, nor does it need to be particularly heavy.
Indeed, because jumping jacks are designed to help enhance speed, you do not necessarily want something overly heavy. Plus, something relatively light and unwieldy will also be safer. Here are the steps:
1. Begin by standing with your feet together. You should hold the weight in both your hands at the level of your chest. You should not be holding it way out in front of your body. Your elbows should be bent, with the object close to your chest.
2. Jump and land with your feet out to the sides as you do with a basic jumping jack. As you do that, lift the weight above your head. You should not swing the weight out to either side or in front of you. It should go straight up, and your arms should be straight above you when you’re done.
3. Jump back to the original position, bringing the weight directly back down to your chest as you pull your feet in together to land.
2. Plyo Jack
If your goal is to train yourself to jump high, you can attempt the plyo jack variation.
1. Start out with your arms at your sides and feet together, but don’t stand up straight. Instead, bend your knees a bit and extend your glutes behind you a little. In other words, squat a little, but not all the way to the ground.
2. From that position, leap up into the air as high as you can, extending your legs out the sides as you do so and raising your arms above your head. But unlike a traditional jumping jack, you want to reach this position when you are at the peak of your jump, not when you land.
3. When you land, you should do so back in your original squatted position with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
If you have difficulties performing the Plyo Jack above, you can try the easier X-Jack.
1. Begin in a regular standing jumping jack position with your feet together and your arms at your sides. You should be standing up straight.
2. Next, spring into the air just the same way you did in the previous exercise. You should be in the same approximate position at the apex of the jump, with your feet spread apart and your arms above your head.
3. When you land, you should be back in your original position, standing upright with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
4. Stepping Jack
Not everyone can jump up and down without issues. It can be tough on your joints, and can be a migraine trigger as well. Those with other soft tissue issues might also struggle.
If that is your situation, consider this alternative which does not require you to jump.
1. Begin in the regular standing position that you would use for a basic jumping jack.
2. Raise both arms above your head, and while doing so, step one of your feet out to the side (it doesn’t matter which).
3. Bring your arms back down to your sides, pulling your leg back into the center.
4. Raise both arms above your head again, and step out with the other foot to the side.
5. Bring your arms back down to your sides, pulling that leg back into the center.
6. Continue repeating the movements above, alternating between your legs.
It is not as intense a workout, but with enough reps, should still be able to get you plenty of exercise.
5. Plank Jacks
Here’s a variation of a jumping jack where you are not standing upright.
1. Begin by getting into a plank position. This is the same position that you would use to do a push-up. Your feet should be together on the floor, your hands should be on the floor about shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, and your body should form a straight line from your feet to your shoulders.
2. Jump your feet out to the sides while maintaining the plank position.
3. Jump your feet back in to the center while still maintaining the plank position. Then just keep repeating these jumps.
6. Low Jack
1. Start out in the same position that you did for the Plyo Jacks. Your feet should be together, your arm should be down at your sides, and you should be squatting slightly.
2. Jump your legs out to the sides, and raise your arms above your head at the same time. But do not move out of your squatting position. When you land, you should still be squatting, just with your legs apart.
3. Drop your arms back down and pull your legs in together so that you are back in the starting position, still squatting.
7. Rotational Jack
1. Begin by standing with your legs together in an upright position. Your arms should be stretched out from your sides.
2. Jump your legs out to the sides.
3. Lean forward and down, bringing one of your arms up above your head and the other down to the ground between your legs.
4. Return your arms back up to the neutral position where they started and jump your legs back together.
5. Jump your legs out to the sides again, and do the same thing with your arms, but switch which arm you are bringing above your head and which you are lowering to the floor.
6. Return back to the starting position, and keep going, alternating between sides.
8. Crossover Jacks
1. Begin in a position where your legs are spread apart and your arms are held out to the sides perpendicular to your body.
2. From that position, jump and land with one of your feet crossed in front of the other so that one leg is in front of you and the other is behind you. Simultaneously, bring both of your arms in front of you and cross one over the other.
3. Jump back into the starting position with your legs and arms apart.
4. Jump back into the crossover position, but this time switch legs and arms.
5. Jump back into the neutral position, and keep repeating, switching sides each time.
9. Burpee Jacks
1. Begin in a standing position with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
2. Squat down and bend forward, putting your hands down flat on the floor, around shoulder-width or slightly further apart.
3. Kick back your legs, keeping them together. You should now be in a plank position.
4. Now do a Plank Jack.
5. Once you have brought your feet back together at the end of the Plank Jack, jump your feet forward so that they have returned to the starting position.
6. Rise to a squatting position with your arms at your sides.
7. Now, make a leap into the air, spreading out your arms and legs so that they are farthest apart at the peak of the jump (this is a Plyo Jack).
8. When your feet land, you should be back in the squatting position, as you would be at the end of a Plyo Jack.
9. You can now repeat steps 1-8. Do as many reps as you can. This is a challenging type of jumping jack that requires a lot of work.
10. Do Jumping Jacks While Skipping Rope
Enjoy skipping rope? Here is how to combine it with jumping jacks.
1. Get into a standing position with both your feet together, and loop the rope over your head and under your feet.
2. As you jump, extend your legs so that when you land, your feet are apart.
3. The next time you loop the rope under your feet and jump, pull your legs back together so that you land with your feet together.
4. Continue repeating the steps above as many times as you want.
Tips for Staying Safe While Doing Jumping Jacks
As jumping jacks are a high-impact exercise, you should take extra care to protect your joints and muscles. Following are a few recommendations for making sure that you get the most out of any types of jumping jacks you perform while avoiding injury:
- Wear the right shoes. Make sure that your shoes are well cushioned and support your ankles.
- Consider doing some lower impact exercise before you begin with jumping jacks, like taking a brief walk, or even just starting with the low-impact variation that we shared earlier before progressing to a different type of jumping jack.
- Watch your posture and make sure that you are not standing or moving in a way that is likely to cause injury.
- If you have major joint issues which may react poorly to jumping jacks, do the low-impact version or avoid the exercise altogether. For minor joint issues, you might be able to do jumping jacks in moderation if you are careful. But if you get any warning signals from your body, stop what you are doing immediately.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before engaging in jumping jacks or any other high-impact exercise. Make sure that doing the jumping jacks will be safe before proceeding.
There Are Many Fun and Challenging Ways to Do Jumping Jacks
Who would have thought there are so many types of jumping jacks? With the different variations on this basic exercise, you can challenge your body in new ways, developing different muscles and improving your ability to jump. Give these variations a try and have fun!