Squats are typically done slowly but you can also do them explosively. Find out how to do jump squats and whether they are good.
Jump squats are a form of squats where you generate enough upward force so that you jump in the air instead of just stopping at the top of the movement.
This exercise is mostly good for improving leg muscle power which can in turn benefit your jump height and athletic performance.
Additionally, you can likely build a bit more muscle with jump squats than the slow bodyweight version due to the extra pressure.
That being said, it is worth mentioning that weighted squats will typically still be better than jump squats for growing your muscles.
Additionally, jump squats are not recommended for everyone due to how hard they are on body parts like the ankles, knees, and lower back. If this is an issue, something like the box jump can be a better idea.
How to do a jump squat
Before you go ahead and do the exercise, you want to know that people who are injury sensitive may want to stay away from jump squats.
Even when this exercise is an option for you, you want to make sure you warm up well before explosive movements like this.
Additionally, a softer surface or shock-absorbing shoes could be helpful.
Once these things are checked off, take the following steps to do a jump squat:
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and pointing somewhat outward.
- Slowly lower your upper body as far as comfortable by folding your knees. Keep your knees above your feet and your spine more or less straight.
- Push yourself upward explosively so that you jump off the ground at the top of the movement.
- Land with at least your knees slightly bent. People with strong ankle muscles may also prefer landing on the front parts of their feet.
You typically want to bend your knees at least slightly when landing the jump squat. Whether you also land with the front parts of your feet first depends on details like strength level and preferences.
Muscles worked with jump squats
It is true that jump squats add more explosiveness to the exercise but they still work the same muscles as regular squats.
That means that some of the primary muscles worked with jump squats include:
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
Some of the secondary muscles worked with jump squats include:
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
- Erector spinae (lower back)
At what speeds and with what weights you work your muscles changes what fitness components you focus on.
By implementing more explosive movements with jump squats, you focus more on improving muscle power in the muscles above.
How many jump squats you should do depends on details like what your body can deal with, how much time you have, and what your training goals are.
Something like 1 to 5 jump squats for 3 to 20 sets tends to be good for improving leg muscle power.
It is worth mentioning that you don’t have to stick to the body weight version. Doing jump squats with weights like a weighted vest, trap bar, dumbbells, etc. could offer more and faster results.
Do keep in mind that these weighted jump squats also make the exercise harder on your body when landing.
Lastly, it is worth noting that jump squats may still be able to help you grow your quadriceps too. Especially if you are more of a resistance training beginner.
Benefits of jump squats
Doing jump squats can offer many positive effects on top of the regular squat benefits.
A few of these more specific benefits of jump squats are:
- Trains muscle power more: Training your muscles explosively is better for improving leg muscle power. In certain situations, this can be a benefit.
- Improves athletic performance and jump height: A secondary benefit of training leg muscle power is that it can benefit your athletic performance and vertical jump height.
- Likely strengthens bones more: Your bones are tissues that can be trained. The extra shocks in jump squats will likely offer more bone density improvements than the regular bodyweight version. In turn, weighted squats could be even better.
- More resistance without equipment: Doing bodyweight squats more explosively challenge your muscles more without any extra fitness equipment.
Other plyometric leg exercises could be good for these benefits too but it is fair to say that jump squats can be a great option.
Risks and cons of jump squats
As briefly mentioned, you do want to keep in mind that doing jump squats also involves some risk. More than many other exercises.
This is because the landing in jump squats can be relatively hard on your ankles, knees, and lower back.
People who are not used to exercise and/or have some weight to lose may want to start with other exercises for this reason.
Even if you do decide to do more jump squats, make sure you warm up enough before you do so.
Additionally, shock-absorbing shoes or other soft surfaces can be helpful.
Another con of jump squats that is worth briefly mentioning is that while they can help, jump squats are not ideal for building muscle.
For optimal results in this area, you want to consider one of its alternatives.
Jump squat alternatives
By now, you likely want to know about these other exercises that are good for growing muscles and/or whether there are options with a lower injury risk than jump squats.
Some examples of jump squat alternatives include:
- Box jumps
- Jump lunges
- Regular squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Pistol squats
- Lateral lunges
What alternatives will be the best for your situation depends on what you like and don’t like about jump squats.
Are jump squats a good exercise?
Jump squats can be a good exercise for improving muscle power in the quadriceps (front thighs). In turn, this can be useful for improving athletic performance and improving jump height.
Additionally, doing bodyweight squats explosively offers a bit more muscle growth potential without adding any extra weights.
Next, jump squats are likely also better for strengthening your bones than the bodyweight version.
One important thing to keep in mind is that some people will find jump squats too hard on their ankles, knees, and lower back.
If that is the case for you, something like a box jump could be a better idea.
Besides that, jump squats are also not optimal for building muscle compared to many other compound leg exercises.
What are jump squats good for?
Jump squats are mainly good for improving muscle power in your quadriceps (front thigh muscles). They also offer a bit more bone strengthening and muscle growth potential than the regular bodyweight squat.