Jumping jacks are a simple, easy-to-do move and a great way to fit in cardio anywhere and anytime! A jumping jack is a calisthenics exercise, which means it’s great for cardiovascular health and boosting your metabolism. In this article, we’re discussing how to do jumping jacks, their benefits, jumping jacks variations and more!
For baby boomers and older, you may remember the late, great Jack Lalanne who popularized the jumping jack starting back in the 1950s. He had a national TV show to get people moving in the comfort of their own homes and he always started with jumping jacks. He was way ahead of his time realizing the benefits and value of an easy exercise like the jumping jack to get the heart pumping and blood flowing.
Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:
- How To Do Jumping Jacks
- Jumping Jacks Benefits
- Jumping Jacks Variations
- Jumping Jack FAQs
- Other Exercises Similar To Jumping Jacks
- Incorporating Jumping Jacks Into Your Workouts
How To Do Jumping Jacks
- Start standing up with your legs together, a slight bend in your knees, and hands resting on your thighs.
- Keeping the knees bent, open the arms and legs out to the sides. Arms come above the head and legs wider than the shoulders.
- Close your arms and legs back to your sides, returning to your start.
Watch the video above to see Chris Freytag break down how to do jumping jacks.
Jumping Jacks Benefits
There are many health benefits to incorporating jumping jacks into your workouts. Here are just a few:
- Jumping Jacks Increase Bone Density
Peak bone mass happens around the age of 25. And as we age, unfortunately, the amount of bone density we have declines, especially if we aren’t actively using it.
According to Dr. Tucker, “five to seven years after menopause, women may lose up to 20% or more of their bone density.” The bottom line is that us women who are aging need to continue to jump.
So yes, jumping jacks can increase bone density as long as we continue to do them daily. Exercise, whether it’s jumping jacks or lifting heavy weights, is going to build bone strength and density overtime.
- Jumping Jacks Require No Equipment
The cardio benefits of jumping jacks are amazing, but even better is the fact that you can make this move right at home. No need to go to a gym or head into bad weather; just find some space and get moving. Some short bursts of moves like jumping jacks can be mixed with things like squats and push-ups to get a full workout in right at home.
- Warm Up Your Shoulders
It might seem strange to say about a cardio exercise, but the truth is that the movement of your arms during a jumping jack provides a great stretch for your shoulders. This is one of the reasons you also find this exercise used during a warm-up for other workouts.
- High-Intensity Interval Benefits
No matter how you look at it, this exercise will get you breathing heavily! They can be done in various ways and even stay low impact, but the harder you push, the higher your heart rate.
You can use them to reach your anaerobic state, meaning breathing only through your mouth and needing a break after about 20-30 seconds! If regular jumping jacks don’t get you working hard enough, just add a few power jacks by lifting your feet up and opening your legs! Need low-impact jumping jacks? Bend your knees and step out right and left instead of jumping.
Jumping Jack Variations
Try these jumping jacks variations to tone things down or ramp things up!
1. Low-Impact Jumping Jacks (Modified Jumping Jack)
For a modification to the regular jumping jack, you can stay low impact on the joints but high intensity with your intention behind the movement.
- Begin with reaching both arms overhead as you would in a regular jumping jack, stepping your right foot out at the same time.
- As your hands come back down to your side, step the right foot back into the center, returning to your starting position.
- Reach both arms overhead again, this time stepping out to the side and tapping the left foot to the side.
- You will switch tapping your right and left foot out to the sides while continuing to reach both arms overhead for maximum range of motion in the upper body.
2. Seal Jacks
This move is similar to a jumping jack; however, a seal jack switches up the arm patterns. This will keep your head in the game while doing a jack.
- Stand tall with your feet together and your arms extended out long in front of your chest. Clapping your hands together long in front.
- Jump your feet out, about shoulder width apart, bringing your hands out to a “T” position at the sides.
- Jump your feet back together as your hands clap in front of your chest, returning to the starting position. Continue to jump out and in with the feet, arms going out to a T and clapping in front of you.
3. Squat Jacks
More jumping jacks variations include the squat jacks. Using a little lower body and still getting the heart rate up. Let’s learn how to add intensity doing squat jacks:
- Start with your feet together and arms by your side.
- Lower yourself into a squat position with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart and hands reaching towards the ground (between the legs).
- Jump your feet back together towards the starting position.
- Then jump your feet out and in – with your hands going over your head.
- Alternating between a squat and a jumping jack, you get the combination of extra glutes and legs in the squat and the same great cardio burst.
4. Criss Cross Jacks
Adding onto the squat jack, we are going to add an extra criss-cross patterning of the feet. This will use a little more inner thigh.
- Stand tall with your feet together and arms by your side.
- Jump your feet apart and lower yourself into a squat position, with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart, reaching your hands to the ground (between the legs).
- As you jump your feet back together, you are going to cross the right foot in front of the left, crisscrossing the legs.
- Jump your feet wide and lower back into a squat position.
- On the next rep of jumping your feet back together, you are going to cross the left foot in front of the right this time, with the same criss-cross patterning of the legs.
- Every time you add the “criss-cross” of the legs, switch the leg that is in the front. Pulling one foot in front of the other will engage the inner thigh muscles! Because who doesn’t love a good inner thigh burn?!
5. Punch to Jack
Adding a kickboxing element, the punch to jack allows you to use the upper back while delivering a kickboxing punch.
- Start with your feet together and stand up tall.
- Jack your feet out wider than shoulder-width apart, bringing your hands overhead.
- Punch your right arm forward as you step forward with the right foot.
- Jack your feet back out wide. Switch your feet and punches this time with the left arm. Your left arm will punch straight out, and your left leg will come forward at the same time.
- Punch and jack your way through this upper back and cardio movement!
6. Plank Jacks
Plank jacks are a form of jumping jacks that are a core body exercise to strengthen the muscles of the core and increase the heart rate at the same time. While they may look easy, don’t be fooled! Here’s how to properly perform the plank jack:
- Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together, and your body in a straight line.
- Similar to the motion of jumping jacks, this variation jumps your feet wide while keeping your butt down and in line with your shoulders. Jump your feet back together to their starting position.
Be sure to keep your abs pulled in tight as you jack your feet in and out.
7. Push-Up Jack
Say what? A push-up and a jumping jack in one move?! You heard that right. Combine the upper body and chest work with a little cardio, and you’ve got a push-up jack. Let’s learn how to properly perform this movement below:
- Begin in a high plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet squeezing together tightly, and your hips in line with your shoulders.
- Lower into a push-up while at the same time jumping your feet wide into a jack motion. Keep the abdominals tight and back straight.
- As you push back up to the top of a push-up, jump your feet together to return to the starting position.
This is an advanced movement. If you are looking to modify and still combine the chest and jack combination, here is how to modify it:
- Begin in a high plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet squeezing together, and your hips in line with your shoulders.
- Lower into a push-up and push back up to the top. In other words, perform a single push-up.
- At the top of the push-up, you will jack your feet out wide, back in together, out wide again, and back in together. You will perform two plank jacks with your feet, before lowering back down to a push-up.
- Alternate between one push-up and two plank jacks, separating the two movements rather than doing it at the same time.
8. Burpee Jack
Why not add a burpee? Here at Get Healthy U, you know that our team is obsessed with the burpee! Here’s how to add a burpee to the jumping jack:
- Start with your feet together and your chest up tall.
- Plant the palms to the ground in front of you.
- Jumping or walking your feet back to a high plank position, this is the start of your burpee.
- Step or jump your feet back into your hands, finding a low squat position. Keep your feet a little more narrow.
- Next, perform two regular jumping jacks before you plant your palms back to the ground for your next burpee.
You will perform one burpee and two jumping jacks at the top. This will be one total round of both exercises.
9. Plyo Jack (Star Jack or Diamond Jacks)
One of the most advanced jumping jacks variations, this move will be sure to get your heart rate up and have you soaring higher!
While we normally stay closer to the ground on a jumping jack, we are going to jump as high off the ground as we can during a star jack, also known as a diamond jack. This will work the inner thigh muscles, as well as the glutes and quads.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width and your chest up tall. To start this movement, you are going to bend your knees into a half-narrow squat.
- Using this half squat as your leverage to jump, tighten your core and jump as high into the air as you can.
- Simultaneously, spread your legs out as wide as possible (keeping the legs as straight as possible) and move your arms into an “X” body position.
- At the top of the jump your body should form an “X” with your legs and arms wide.
- Squeeze the inner thighs and bring the legs back together to about shoulder width apart, keeping a soft bend through the knees to brace the landing.
Which of the above jumping jacks variations will you try?
Jumping Jack FAQs
Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories every 10 minutes you are doing jumping jacks. Bottom line – the harder you work, the more calories you burn.
The jumping jack is a cardiovascular exercise that engages large muscle groups in your body, It’s a bodyweight exercise that has been used as a warm-up exercise for PE classes, sport teams and for everyday workouts.
Specifically, jumping jacks work your glutes, quadriceps, abdominal and shoulder muscles. But most of all, they get your heart rate up and works your lungs all at the same time.
Other Exercises Similar to Jumping Jacks
If you like the idea of getting a great cardio move right in the comfort of your own home with no equipment needed, try these too!
Jumping Jacks Workout Routines
Jumping jacks are an amazing cardio exercise all on their own! However, you could also incorporate them into other workouts to mix things up. Here are some ideas to make that happen.
10-Minute Bodyweight-Only Cardio Challenge
You don’t need to run or ride a bike to get your cardio in. You don’t even need to be in a gym or outside. Using basic bodyweight moves, you can get a complete cardio workout that is simple, easy to do anywhere, and effective.
Instructions: Jog 1 minute in place to warm up. Do each of the following for 45 seconds, with 15 seconds rest in between:
Rest 1 minute. Repeat. Stretch.
Fat Blasting Circuit Training Workout
Circuits are a fun way to exercise and get your strength and cardio in simultaneously. The idea behind circuits is to go from one move, or one “station,” to the next with little or no rest in between. Check this out:
- 30 seconds side lunges
- 30 seconds high knee run
- 30 seconds push-ups
- 30 seconds jumping jacks
- 30 seconds plié squats
- 30 seconds bear crawl
- 30 seconds modified army crawl plank
- 30 seconds crab walk
Rest 1 minute. Repeat. Stretch.
Hot HIIT Workout
High-Intensity Interval Training is all the rage because it gets the job done in record time. Go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then go hard again. Here’s a super easy way to kick butt!
Do each move for 20 seconds, and rest 10 seconds in between moves. Repeat four times.
Targets: hamstrings, shoulders, chest
Here are three more workouts that incorporate jumping jacks into your workout!