Most people know that exercises like jumping jacks can offer a good training session. But are jumping jacks cardio or resistance training?
In theory, whether jumping jacks are cardio or resistance training depends on your personal fitness capabilities. That being said, jumping jacks are cardio for most people.
If you can do more than about 20 jumping jack repetitions without completely fatiguing your muscles, jumping jacks are mostly a cardio exercise for you.
Another way to tell is if you can’t continue doing jumping jacks, is it because you are out of breath? If so jumping jacks are mostly training your cardiovascular system.
Jumping jacks do also engage some muscles and you can make this exercise more of a resistance training exercise with extra weights.
Cardio vs resistance training
Doing jumping jacks is mainly a cardiovascular-focused workout.
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes the heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely by doing jumping jacks your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.
Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. By doing workouts with jumping jacks you can strengthen your cardiovascular system which in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
It is true that jumping jacks will require certain muscles to work harder. Individuals who never do any resistance training may gain a tiny amount of muscle from doing this exercise although it is unlikely.
However, even if you are able to gain some muscle with jumping jacks, this progress will usually not go on for long. If you are serious about this fitness goal you likely want to turn to resistance training exercises.
You don’t even necessarily need to use any dumbbells or barbells. Something like resistance band exercises can be a great start.
So in short, for most people jumping jacks are mainly a cardiovascular-focused exercise. Besides that, they also engage a variety of muscles although you should not expect any growth from only doing this as a workout.
Muscles worked with jumping jacks
One of the benefits of an exercise like jumping jacks is that it engages both the lower and upper body. Like with many exercises, this makes a variety of different muscles work.
Even so, there are a few muscles that will have to work the hardest for moving in the case of jumping jacks your body weight.
The leg movement of jumping jacks engages some of the following muscles: glutes (butt), quadriceps (front thigh), calves, hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), and hamstrings (back thigh).
The arm movement of jumping jacks engages your deltoids (shoulders) and latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back).
Some muscles that are engaged to a small extent to keep a good posture, are your core muscles and other muscles that influence posture.
Again, if you want to give these muscles a great workout it is likely smarter to turn to resistance training exercises.
Can jumping jacks burn belly fat?
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
Some people get the impression that to burn fat you have to stay at a certain heart rate, eat certain foods, or do specific workouts.
Unfortunately, targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. To burn fat, or more specifically belly fat, you have to lose weight overall.
One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual.
Building extra muscle mass will also help with burning extra calories throughout the day.
Jumping jacks can help with weight loss. Mainly because doing an exercise like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities. Doing jumping jacks can also lead to some amount of muscle gain.
15 minutes of doing jumping jacks can help you burn around 89-152+ calories depending on weight, intensity, and much more.
If you want to learn how to burn more calories while doing jumping jacks, make sure you read the article on how many calories jumping jacks burn.
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do.
You can do a lot of jumping jacks and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
How to get more results from jumping jacks
There are different speeds, durations, and pieces of fitness equipment you can use to vary jumping jacks. These influence what fitness components you will train to what extent.
By adjusting them to your personal situation you can reach your fitness goals faster.
If you want to focus on your cardiovascular health you want to build up speed and duration over time, potentially in an interval manner.
There are of course upper limits where the opposite is true but these limits will vary a lot from individual to individual.
To lose the most amount of weight with jumping jacks there is no one best training style for everyone. Factors like your personal situation, muscle mass, rest of your workout plan, experience, etc. will greatly influence this.
If you want to focus more on building muscle you preferably want to do resistance training exercises. Even something as simple as pushups and lunges can be effective for building muscle.
That being said if you want to stick to jumping jacks and build muscle you want to do them with weights.
For example, by holding dumbbells in your hands, wearing ankle weights, or looping a resistance band around your legs, and giving your body enough nutrients and rest to repair and build muscle.
Giving your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep is important no matter which one of the three your main focus is with jumping jacks.
Also make sure to not overdo it. Overtraining can have the opposite effects of what you are aiming for.
Can I just do jumping jacks for cardio?
While there are still human physical limits, most people can get great cardiovascular health by just doing jumping jacks with the right speeds, sets, and frequency.