There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing broad jumps, what will the effects be?
Broad jumps are an exercise where you jump a certain distance starting from a static position. To do this you squat down, tilt your upper body forward, and stretch your legs fast to generate jumping power. You can also swing your arms for more distance.
Broad jumps are mostly for building muscle, improving jump height, and athletic performance. They are very similar to jump squats but by leaning forward you focus slightly more on your calf muscles and slightly less on your glute muscles.
Whether you should add broad jumps or alternatives to your routine depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.
Keep in mind that broad jumps can be rough on body parts like your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and back even if you implement the right technique.
How to do a broad jump exercise
The first thing you need to know is that broad jumps are not for everyone. Especially if you have sensitive knees, ankles, hips, and back this exercise may not be for you. If you have a softer surface or shock-absorbing shoes these may be a good option.
If you do want to give this exercise a try make sure you warm up sufficiently. Broad jumps use your legs in an explosive manner, being warmed up helps you avoid injuries. Once these things are in order, to do a broad jump take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you ideally want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement.
- Start leaning forward, depending on your calf flexibility you may have to lift your heels off the ground. You can move your arms back if you want to use them in the broad jump.
- Push your body up and forward fast, mainly with the help of your front upper leg muscles. You have to generate enough upward power so that you jump. You can swing your arms forward to jump farther.
- How you want to land depends on what body parts you want to absorb the shock. You generally want to at least fold your legs slightly so your knees don’t absorb all the weight.
How you want to land depends on what body parts you want to absorb the shock. As mentioned before, you generally want to at least fold your legs slightly so your knees don’t absorb all the weight.
One way of landing is not necessarily better for everyone. Absorbing the shock is also not necessarily bad if you don’t overdo it. Putting joints under safe amounts of pressure can strengthen them in the long term.
A completely healthy individual can start out by distributing the shock between body parts to avoid overloading a single one of them.
Broad jump variations
The broad jump done with just your body weight is the standard version of the exercise. There are also a few broad jump variations that can make the exercise easier or harder.
Some people are not ready yet for a full broad jump. Before you do the full version you want to make sure that your regular bodyweight squat technique is good. If any body parts hurt during these squats you likely don’t want to do a broad jump.
Once you have taken that step, you can consider doing the exercise without going for the full 90-degree angle in your knees and hips and only jumping a small distance. This will help you train similar muscles but at a less challenging level.
If you are more experienced with leg resistance training, bodyweight broad jumps may be too easy to build a lot of extra muscle mass fast. At this point, you need to turn to other leg exercises or make broad jumps harder to keep growing your leg muscles a lot.
Making broad jumps harder at the right points in your training journey can also speed up muscle growth compared to doing the regular bodyweight variation over and over.
The first and simple way to make broad jumps more challenging is to focus on jumping farther. This will require a bigger effort from your leg muscles which in turn can benefit muscle growth.
To achieve more muscle strength and growth you can also do broad jumps with weights. The main option for this is wearing a weighted vest but you can also hold/wear weights like dumbbells, ankle weights, wrist weights, etc.
Keep in mind that these broad jump variations also cause a bigger shock when landing. They can also influence your balance, even when you stop using the weights.
You can also do broad jumps at a faster pace to make this exercise more of a cardio challenge. However, this exercise is generally done as plyometric resistance training. For cardiovascular training, a different exercise like running may be a better choice.
Muscles worked with broad jumps
Some of the primary muscles worked with broad jumps include:
Some of the secondary muscles worked with broad jumps include:
- Erector spinae
Although these other muscles play a role as well, broad jumps will mainly focus on your quadriceps (front thighs), calves, and glute (butt) muscles.
If you swing your arms you will also engage your shoulder muscles to some extent. This generally does not influence how much you engage your legs. You will just be able to jump farther.
Compared to regular jump squats, broad jumps engage your calves slightly more and glutes slightly less.
The way you train your muscles influences what fitness component you improve. Regular squats at a slower pace will train either muscle endurance or muscle strength. Broad jumps can be a good alternative if you want to work on your muscle power fitness component.
Broad jump exercise benefits
Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding broad jumps to your routine can offer you some amazing benefits. Some of the most important ones include:
- Stronger muscles: Broad jumps are a type of resistance training exercise that can help you strengthen your leg muscles.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing broad jumps likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss.
- Improves athletic performance: Broad jumps help you train the explosive power of your leg muscles. This leads to an improvement in sports where you benefit from fast running.
- Improves mood: Exercise like broad jumps promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
- No equipment or location required: Since broad jumps are a bodyweight exercise you don’t have to invest in equipment or be in a specific location.
- Improves sleep: Exercise like broad jumps can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
- Slows down aging: Broad jumps won’t influence how many days have passed since you were born. However, exercise can slow down the progress of certain aging markers that are correlated with negative health effects.
- Balance & coordination: Balance & coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Broad jumps can help you with this.
While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than broad jumps, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.
The main thing to keep in mind is that broad jumps can be hard on body parts like your shoulders, ankles, knees, hips, and back. Even if you land with good technique and do the rest of the exercise right, broad jumps can be hard on these body parts.
If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any ankle, knee, back, or shoulder pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing broad jumps into your workout routine.
If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that broad jumps are not (yet) for you.
As mentioned before, don’t forget to warm up before doing an explosive exercise like broad jumps.
Broad jump alternatives
While broad jumps can definitely be a great addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training your leg muscles. Some of these broad jump alternatives include:
- Jump squats
- Box jumps
- Explosive calf raises
- Jump lunges
- Regular squats
Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.
For specific training goals, mostly better athletic performance and improving jump height, broad jumps can be a good addition to a workout routine. Broad jumps may also be better for strengthening bones as long as you don’t overdo it.
That being said, for the most popular goals people have when it comes to exercise, losing weight and building muscle, broad jumps are likely not worth the extra injury risk over something like weighted squats. For these goals, there are also better exercises than bodyweight broad jumps.
Remember is that doing broad jumps can be hard on body parts like your shoulders, ankles, knees, hips, and back even if you implement the right technique.
If you are sensitive in these areas you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any ankle, knee, back, or shoulder pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more broad jumps.
Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing broad jumps is a workout you love, great. If not other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
If you do decide to implement more broad jumps make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles and joints.