Jumping Jacks and More!

Jumping jacks are one of the most well known bodyweight exercises out there, but when was the last time that you actually did any?

Just like jumping rope, the jumping jack (technically referred to as the “side-straddle-hop”) is a low intensity plyometric exercise that involves your entire body. And like jumping rope, jumping jacks can turn into a serious cardio workout if done for a long enough period of time.

Jumping jacks are typically performed for a set number of repetitions. You can also do them for time, as counting can become a burden once you get into higher rep ranges. Jumping jacks make for a great warm-up exercise but they also work well as an active recovery exercise in the context of circuit training. Using them in between sets of pull-ups or dips, for example, is a great way to keep your heart rate up while letting your arms recover.

The Basic Jumping Jack
Most of us did this in gym class when we were kids. The basic jumping jack involves clapping your hands over your head while jumping in the air and opening your legs. This action is immediately followed by bringing your arms down while jumping back into a standing position.

Jumping Jack Variations
The “seal jack” involves clapping your hands in front of your chest instead of over head. This is a good variation for people with shoulder problems or other mobility issues.

Another variation is what I like to call the “monkey jack,” in which you jump up and down while alternately raising one arm and lowering the other. The foot movement on the monkey jack is different as well; instead of jumping with both feet together, the leg movement is more like running in place.

Star Jumps
If you want to really challenge yourself, I recommend the “star jump”. A star jump begins with a deep squat in which you wrap your arms around the front of your legs. From there you simply jump as high as you can while spreading your legs and reaching your arms up over head.

Check out the video below for more:

16 thoughts on “Jumping Jacks and More!

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  • By jeffdf -

    I have a sneaking suspicion that star jacks are coming to boot camp…3, 2, 1…

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    You have very good intuition, Jeff!

  • By Spanishgrad2003 -

    I always liked jumping jacks. One of the fun things in to remember about elementary school:) Will be using the variations between sets of other arm exercises. I think its the change I needed to keep my exercise routine going

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Right on. If you haven't done them in a while you might be surprised by how tiring they can get after a minute or two.

  • By Spanishgrad2003 -

    Getting ready to try the star jacks…and the pistol squats(again) and yes Al my daughters are on stand by hahaha

  • By Char(PSI Tutor:Mentor) -

    Great~ I have a high ceiling so can do these with my other rep stuff whilst watching TV

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Char – jumping jacks are great because you can do them anytime, anywhere – as long as you don't have neighbors downstairs!

  • By JeanPatrick -

    sounds like burpees and jumping jacks variation would be nice on a rainy day (because of the bad weather here, i might do some tomorrow).

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Jumping jacks and burpees are like peanut butter and jelly. The possibilities are endless with just your body weight!

  • By Char(PSI Tutor:Mentor) -

    I wait till my housemate is out and about~ but yeah, wooden floors do echo. Am more concerned about falling through the floor because of the termite infestation~ oh well, then he can move out and I'll have my cathedral ceiling for rope climbing ~:-)

  • By John Danforth -

    Since I'm not much of a runner but do walk a lot I sometimes like to periodically add some sprints and jumping jacks into those walks to help get my heart rate going and hopefully give my walks a fat burning edge. I actually got the idea from a post of yours where you suggested that walking was'nt always going to be enough cardio work. I think it's helped me shed a few pounds thus far.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Sounds like a good fallback plan. 🙂

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks for sharing, John. You can always find time to throw in a few jumping jacks!

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