Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jacks (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

Jumping Jacks are one of the most tried and true warm-up exercises that there is. Personally, they take me back to junior high gym class when we started every day (and I mean every day) with Jumping Jacks, Squats, Mountain Climbers and Sit-Ups.

There is a reason why Jumping Jacks have been so popular over the years. They’re super easy to learn, don’t require any equipment and will do a great job of getting your heart rate up and your blood pumping.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Jumping Jacks, some coaching points and a few variations if you want to mix up your workout a bit.

How To Do Jumping Jacks

Equipment Needed

  • None

Muscles Worked

Jumping Jacks are a total body exercise, utilizing almost every muscle group in the body. This is one of the main reasons they are such an effective warm-up exercise.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Start in a standing position, feet side by side and arms down by your sides.
  • Begin by jumping your feet out to about shoulder-width apart.
  • At the same time you move your feet – raise your arms out to your sides until they meet directly overhead.
  • Now, simultaneously bring your feet and arms back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the designated number of reps.

Coaching Points

To be perfectly honest, the biggest mistake for Jumping Jacks I’ve seen over the years with athletes is just laziness. Whether it’s perceived as an exercise for little kids or just not that important, athletes can get really sloppy with technique just from lack of caring.

If Jumping Jacks are included in a workout program, they should be there for a reason. And if they are there for a reason then they should be done with the same attention to detail as any other exercise in the program. Just my two cents.

Jumping Jacks Benefits

The biggest benefit to Jumping Jacks is just how efficient they are at raising core temperature and elevating heart rate. This is because Jumping Jacks gets your entire body moving all at once in a very dynamic way.

The other big benefit is their simplicity and versatility.

For example, unlike jumping rope, they require zero equipment. And they can be done with minimal space which makes them even more versatile than jogging.

Jumping Jacks Variations

Seal Jacks

Seal Jacks are a very similar, lesser known, variation of Jumping Jacks. The rhythm and jumping in and out with the legs stay exactly the same.

The difference comes in the arm action. Start with the arms straight out in front of the body, palms together. When the feet jump out to the side bring the arms back to where they are straight out the side.

Jumping Jack Alternatives

Jump Rope

Jumping Rope

The first alternative that I would recommend for Jumping Jacks is Jumping Rope. The two movements are very similar to each other and Jumping Rope is another great way of raising your core temperature quickly.

With Jumping Rope, you also get the added benefit of improving basic coordination and balance (especially if you go single leg).

When programming for athletes, I incorporate Jumping Rope into the warm-up at least once per week.

Line Drills

Most Line Drills are basically Jumping Rope without the rope. Find a line on the ground (any line will work) and work on doing quick hops over the line.

You can go front to back, side to side and single leg. You can also do quick feet drills (similar to what you would do on an agility ladder) like quickly stepping both feet forward and backward over the line.

More Links and Info

Looking for more warm-up drills to add to your routine? Check out the Warm-Up Section of our Exercise Library.

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