Bodyweight jump squats can already offer valuable benefits but weighted ones even more. Find out what equipment you can use for these.
Most people will prefer doing jump squats with weights like a weighted vest, a barbell, or a trap/hex bar. Even so, you may like some of the other options below too.
One thing you do want to keep in mind before giving the variations below a try is that weighted jump squats can be challenging on your body.
If you are unsure about whether your body can deal with these, you want to start with the bodyweight version and slowly build up from there.
1. Barbell jump squats
A barbell is the long bar you can put weight plates on. This piece of equipment is not just popular for regular weighted squats. You can also use it in jump squats.
One of the main benefits of using a barbell in this exercise is that you can add a lot of weight without any extra challenge for your grip muscles. This allows you to really focus on training your leg muscles.
Additionally, you can really go through the full squat range of motion because there are no weights by your sides that can hit the ground.
On top of these things, basically all gyms will have multiple barbell setups. You should have no trouble finding a location where you can do barbell jump squats.
By putting the weight on your upper back, your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae (lower back) muscles will have to work harder to tilt back your upper body and keep your spine straight.
This change in the ratio of muscles worked in jump squats can be good or bad depending on your training goals.
One downside of barbell jump squats is that they can be more challenging in terms of balance because the resistance is positioned so high.
Besides that, this variation requires a bit more time to set up. You have to rack the barbell, add weight plates on each side, unrack it, and rack it again after your repetitions.
2. Dumbbell jump squats
Similar to barbells, you will find dumbbells in basically every good gym. These are the handles with a weight on each side.
You can also use dumbbells in jump squats. Most people will prefer just holding a dumbbell in each hand, letting their arms hang by their sides, and doing jump squats.
This will be more challenging for your forearm grip muscles, quadriceps, erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
That being said, you could also consider keeping the dumbbells at shoulder height. This will be more challenging for your shoulder and bicep muscles on top of challenging your leg and lower back muscles to a larger extent.
Since jump squats are a plyometric exercise, you will likely not need as much extra resistance as regular squats to make the movement challenging enough.
Even so, one downside of dumbbell jump squats is that it is hard to add a lot of resistance. Your forearm grip muscles could fatigue before your leg muscles had a good workout.
Additionally, if you keep the dumbbells by your sides, they may hit the ground before you are able to go through the full squat range of motion. This can be suboptimal for training results.
3. Banded jump squats
At first, you may be confused about how resistance bands could be used in jump squats. In regular squats, you can anchor them below your feet but by jumping, the bands could slip away.
And while this is true, you can also loop a resistance band around your upper legs, close to your knees. This will make jump squats harder for your hip abductors aka outer thigh muscles.
If you are interested in weighted jump squats because you want to work your quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, calves, and erector spinae more, resistance bands are not the best choice for you.
However, you may like the idea of making your bodyweight jump squats focus a bit more on other muscles. In that case, you can give banded jump squats a try.
Some of the benefits of resistance bands are that they are budget-friendly, versatile, compact, and easy to take with you. Do keep in mind that you will have to replace them every once in a while due to wear and tear.
4. Trap/hex bar jump squat
Trap aka hex bars are a type of specialty barbell with a hexagonal shape and handles on each side. Not everyone knows these exist but they can be a helpful equipment choice for jump squats.
Because the handles on each side are connected through the bars around you, you will have to engage your shoulder stabilization muscles less. In turn, you can focus more on working your leg muscles.
Additionally, trap bars can hold a lot of weight.
One downside to keep in mind is that the weight plates on the hex bar will likely hit the ground before you can go through the full range of motion. This is generally a bit less optimal for seeing results.
Besides that, trap bar jump squats can be relatively challenging for your forearm grip muscles. Potentially too challenging to really give your leg muscles a good workout.
Lastly, even if you do want to give this type of weighted jump squat a try, not all gyms have trap and hex bars.
5. Jump squats with a weighted vest
Most people who are interested in doing jump squats with weights immediately go to the resistance types you hold with your hands. However, weighted vests can also be a great option to add extra resistance to jump squats.
Some of their main benefits are that your grip muscles can’t fatigue and that a weighted vest can’t fall on the ground similar to a barbell.
At the same time, you can still add a lot of resistance to challenge your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calf, and erector spinae muscles more.
One potential downside is that some weighted vests are a bit long and bulky. This could get in the way of going through the full jump squat range of motion.
That being said, if you have one available, you will likely find a weighted vest one of the best equipment options on this list.
6. Kettlebell jump squats
Kettlebells are big metal balls with a handle. They are typically used in specific kettlebell exercises like kettlebell swings but you can also use them for more standard movements like jump squats.
You can hold one or two kettlebells in your hands and let your arms hang down or “rack” them at shoulder height.
At the same time, something important to note is that kettlebells are not that great for weighted jump squats.
Their handles typically don’t have knurling (grooves). This makes kettlebell jump squats relatively challenging for your forearm grip muscles. These could fatigue before your leg muscles had a good workout.
Additionally, kettlebells are relatively bulky and high. That means your jump squat range of motion will be somewhat small which is typically not preferred.
7. Workout sandbag jump squat
There are workout sandbags with extra handles to make them more useful for resistance training exercises. Jump squats are one of the many other exercises you can use them for.
A benefit of sandbag jump squats is that the weight will be relatively comfortable for your upper back. At least compared to a barbell with weight plates.
Additionally, it is generally not as much of a problem if you drop the workout sandbag. Most floors will be fine with this.
The main downside of workout sandbags is that it is a bit more challenging to adjust the resistance precisely.
If you still plan to progress a lot with jump squats, you will likely need a scale to measure the amounts of sand you add.
Lastly, most workout sandbag brands require you to add the sand yourself. This likely requires an extra trip to a local store and some time and effort to fill the sandbag.
Benefits of weighted jump squats
By now, you know about a variety of ways you can do jump squats with weights.
Before implementing these variations into your exercise routine, you may want to know about the benefits of doing these instead of regular jump squats. Some of these include:
- Can help you build more muscle, strength, and power: To grow and strengthen muscles you have to put them under enough pressure. Weighted jump squats will be more challenging than the bodyweight version.
- Can help you lose more weight: Your body requires more energy to move more weight. This includes the external weights above and the internal weight of extra muscle. Using up more energy can benefit, but is no guarantee for, weight loss.
- Slightly more time-efficient: Challenging your muscles enough does not have to take up a lot of time. By doing jump squats with weights, you can make your workouts shorter while keeping them effective.
- Other jump squat benefits to a larger extent: As long as your body can deal with it, adding weights to a resistance training exercise like jump squats typically makes it so you experience the same benefits to a larger extent.
While weighted jump squats can definitely be good, you also want to keep in mind that overtraining is a possibility. Doing jump squats with the equipment options above is not recommended for everyone.
When in doubt, you want to start with bodyweight jump squats, potentially lighter exercises, and slowly build up weight and workout intensity from there if things go well.