Do Jumping Jacks Build Muscle?

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Jumping jacks are easy to implement and can definitely get your heart beating. Find out if they can also help you build muscle and to what extent.

While jumping jacks do engage a variety of upper and lower body muscles, most people will not actually build (aka grow) any muscle with this exercise.

A rough guideline is that if you can do more than 25 repetitions without your muscles fatiguing, you are likely not growing your muscles.

At the same time, even if growth isn’t one of them, working your muscles can still offer positive effects on top of the other health benefits of jumping jacks.

What it takes to build muscle

In theory, jumping jacks could help some individuals build muscle but for many people, this won’t be the case. A quick explanation about how building muscle works helps you understand what group you are in.

To grow and strengthen muscles, you have to pressure them with enough weight and the right ranges of sets and repetitions.

This pressure starts a variety of internal processes that can make the muscles stronger to be better prepared to do similar efforts in the future.

Something to note is that you do need to give your body enough nutrients and rest to repair and grow these muscles.

How much pressure is enough to build varies from person to person. Someone who is used to squatting 200 pounds (90.7 kg) will likely not build muscle by climbing the stairs.

On the other hand, someone who barely does any exercise may be able to see some muscle growth from the same activity by skipping a step.

Can you build muscle with jumping jacks?

Then the question is at what point you are in what category.

A rough guideline is that if you are able to do more than 25 jumping jacks in a row without your muscles fatiguing (not being able to continue), you are likely not getting any muscle-building results.

On the other hand, that also means individuals who can’t complete this many repetitions could grow certain muscles a small amount with jumping jacks.

In theory, you could also use wrist weights, ankle weights, and/or a weighted vest to make jumping jacks harder for your muscles and in turn, see growth.

However, jumping jacks are a cardiovascular exercise that is typically done with just body weight for a good reason.

Doing this movement with extra weights is generally not recommended since the injury risk is higher and the exercise less convenient than doing resistance training for the same muscles.

What muscles jumping jacks work

While you may not see any actual muscle growth from jumping jacks, working your muscles can still offer benefits. Some of these include slowing down degradation, improving muscle endurance, and making the muscles healthier.

The main muscles jumping jacks work include your:

  • Deltoids (shoulders): Especially the side deltoids are responsible for raising your arms outward and upward.
  • Latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back): The muscles that pull your arms down to your side together with gravity.
  • Outer thigh muscles: These muscles move your legs outward.
  • Inner thigh muscles: The muscles that move your legs inward.
  • Calves: These muscles push down the front of your feet to jump up and absorb the shock when landing on the front parts of your feet.
  • To a small extent core muscles: The muscles around your waist that keep your upper body upright.

There are also many alternative ways of doing jumping jacks that often focus on slightly different muscles.


How many jumping jacks should I do to build muscle?

Most people will not really build or grow muscle no matter how many jumping jacks they do. If this is your goal, you want to turn to resistance training exercises.

Can jumping jacks give you abs?

Jumping jacks can help you reveal your abs by burning belly fat but they generally won’t give you extra ab muscle mass.

What muscles do jumping jacks develop?

Jumping jacks work muscles like your deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), outer thigh muscles, inner thigh muscles, calves, and to a small extent core muscles however typically not enough to actually develop and grow them.

Do jumping jacks make your legs bigger?

Jumping jacks will generally not be challenging enough to make your legs bigger.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.