You can do more standard exercises like jumping jacks in many ways. Discover how to do cross jacks and what they do.
Cross jacks are a variation of jumping jacks where you move your arms sideways horizontally instead of up. You also cross both your arms and legs instead of stopping in the middle.
When it comes to muscle engagement, cross jacks focus more on your chest and back deltoids (shoulders) and less on your middle deltoids and latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back) than regular jumping jacks.
You can also say that your inner and outer thigh muscles have to go through a slightly bigger range of motion in cross jacks.
Another important difference is that cross jacks are a lot more awkward to do at high speeds. This is a big downside when it comes to getting in a good cardiovascular workout.
In turn, the main uses for cross jacks are warming up and improving coordination.
If you are trying to accomplish any other fitness goals, you will likely prefer one of the more effective alternatives available.
How to do a cross jack
Take the following steps to do a cross jack:
- Stand upright with your feet wide apart and your arms in a horizontal line with your shoulders.
- Jump in the air and move your feet sideways and inward. You want to move one foot slightly forward and the other foot slightly backward so that these can cross each other in the air. At the same time, you want to do a similar movement with your arms where they can pass each other in the middle.
- Land with your legs slightly less than stretched and arms crossed.
- Jump back into starting position by reversing the movements in step 2. If you are comfortable with this movement, you can move your arms slightly farther than a horizontal line.
- Repeat the cross jack starting at step 2 but change what foot goes forward and what arm goes upward.
When you get used to cross jacks you can do them at a faster speed to work your cardiovascular system harder.
You can also do this by wearing a weighted vest that does not get in the way. This will also engage your leg muscles to a larger extent.
Muscles worked with cross jacks
The main muscles worked with cross jacks are your calves, quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), hip abductors (outer thighs), chest, front deltoids (shoulders), and back deltoids.
Cross jacks focus more on your front deltoids, chest muscles, and back deltoids than regular jumping jacks.
On the flip side, you also work your middle deltoids and latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back) muscles less with cross jacks.
You do want to keep in mind that both cross jacks and regular jumping jacks will typically not grow these muscles.
At the same time, working muscles can still be good in the sense that it can benefit endurance, slow down degradation, and make the muscles healthier.
Cross jack exercise benefits
Even if cross jacks are not the number one exercise due to their awkward movements, you can still expect benefits from this exercise. Some of these include:
- Can help with losing weight: Cross jacks will likely make you burn more energy than usual. In combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas, this can benefit weight loss.
- Better coordination: Your first few times doing cross jacks may feel and look awkward due to the coordination requirements. Over time, challenging yourself this way can lead to improvements.
- Muscle endurance: Engaging your muscles with cross jacks could be enough to improve endurance in them.
- Better cardiovascular health: Your heart, lungs, and blood vessels will have to work harder while doing cross jacks. In turn, cross jacks could strengthen your cardiovascular system.
- Improves mood: Moving more intensely with cross jacks tends to promote the release of hormones that make you feel better.
- No equipment or location required: You can do cross jacks without investing in exercise equipment or spending time moving to a different location.
- Improves sleep: Implementing exercises like cross jacks into your routine can improve your sleep quality and duration.
These effects are similar to the benefits of jumping jacks but cross jacks offer them to a lesser extent.
That being said, you could still consider cross jacks if you really like doing them.
Cross jack alternatives
At the same time, you may conclude that you are interested in the more effective cross jack alternatives instead. In that case, you can consider some of the following exercises:
- Jumping jacks
- Side shuffles
- Weighted leg adductions or abductions
- Cable crossovers
- Bent-over reverse fly
- Chest fly
What muscles you want to engage and what areas of your health you want to improve are important details when deciding between these cross jack alternatives.
Are cross jacks a good exercise?
Cross jacks do offer a decent warmup and some cardiovascular, muscle endurance, and coordination training but it is hard to really call this a good exercise.
There are just many exercise alternatives that offer a lot more results in a shorter amount of time. Mainly because the cross jack movement is awkward to do at high speeds.
That being said, personal preference matters to some extent too. You could still consider doing cross jacks if you find them enjoyable.
They will still typically be better than doing nothing.
What are cross jacks good for?
Cross jacks are mainly good for warming up and improving coordination. You also get some extent of muscle endurance and cardiovascular training.
What are cross jacks?
Cross jacks are an exercise where you jump and move your arms and legs outward and inward. In the middle, your body parts cross each other.