Modifying existing exercises can change their results in a variety of ways. Discover how to do the power jacks exercise and the benefits of doing so.
Power jacks are a variation of jumping jacks where you jump into the bottom of a squat instead of keeping your legs straight.
This makes you work your quadriceps (front thighs) and to some extent glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back thighs) more.
However, it also becomes a lot harder to do power jacks at high speeds which has its disadvantages.
More specifically, regular jumping jacks will typically be better for training cardiovascular health.
You want to see power jacks more as an option that can help train both cardiovascular health and muscle endurance to some extent at the same time.
For each of these individual training goals, there will be better exercise alternatives.
How to do a power jack exercise
Take the following steps to do a repetition of the power jack exercise:
- Stand upright with your arms next to you and your feet together.
- Jump up and while in the air, move your legs sideways and outward and your arms sideways and upward. Similar to a regular jumping jack.
- Land with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms pointing upward. You likely want to bend your legs at least slightly to make the landing more comfortable.
- Lower your body as far as comfortable by folding your legs. Keep your thighs above your feet and your spine more or less straight.
- Raise your body explosively by stretching your legs so that you jump in the air again.
- While in the air, move your arms down and feet to the center so that you land in starting position again.
If you have trouble getting used to the power jacks exercise you can also start with each of the separate steps.
For example, by practicing your regular bodyweight squats in one set of multiple repetitions.
When you get better at power jacks, you can consider doing them faster to train your body more.
It is somewhat normal that this movement still feels a bit awkward at these higher speeds.
Another option is wearing a quality weighted vest to challenge your leg muscles and cardiovascular system to larger extents.
Muscles worked with power jacks
Power jacks work muscles like your hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), quadriceps (front thighs), middle deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), calves, and erector spinae (lower back).
The main difference with regular jumping jacks is that power jacks work your quadriceps and to some extent glutes and hamstrings more.
You can also say that the extra squat leaves less time per minute for working the other muscles involved in the exercise.
If you are relatively new to exercise, power jacks could be enough to see small amounts of muscle growth in your quadriceps.
However, it is still fair to say that there are many better exercises for this purpose. Even just doing squats or other bodyweight leg exercises tends to be more effective.
Power jack exercise benefits
You do focus more on your leg muscles and less on your cardiovascular system with power jacks.
At the same time, you can still say that many of their positive effects are similar to the benefits of regular jumping jacks. Some examples include:
- Can help with losing weight: Power jacks will likely burn more calories than the things you normally do. In turn, this can make it easier to lose weight.
- Balance and coordination: You can train your balance and coordination by doing activities that are challenging in these areas. Power jacks are an example of an activity like this.
- Better muscle endurance: Challenging your muscles for extended amounts of time can improve your endurance in these areas. Power jacks could be enough to do this. Some people could even see some muscle growth.
- Improves mood: Working out tends to increase to what extent your body produces feel-good hormones. Power jacks should be able to improve your mood because of this.
- Can improve cardiovascular health: Moving more intensely with something like power jacks works your cardiovascular system more. In turn, this can lead to strengthening this system.
- No equipment or location required: You don’t have to invest in exercise equipment or drive to your local gym to get in a power jack workout.
- Improves sleep: Implementing an exercise routine with something like power jacks can benefit your sleep quality and duration.
If you like the exercise, you can consider using power jacks to get these benefits.
Power jack exercise alternatives
While power jacks still offer the benefits above, you may also want to know about more effective ways to get these results.
Some examples of power jack exercise alternatives are:
- Jumping jacks
- Side shuffles
- Weighted leg adductions or abductions
To choose between these power jack alternatives you want to think about your fitness goals and potentially try out a few different options to see what you enjoy the most.
Are power jacks a good exercise?
You can say that power jacks offer cardiovascular, muscle endurance, and coordination improvements but it is hard to really call this a good exercise.
This is mainly because choosing more effective exercises for each of these fitness goals and doing them separately will likely offer more benefits in a shorter amount of time.
That being said, if you really like doing power jacks and want to train cardiovascular health and muscle endurance at the same time, you can still consider this exercise.
Another potential purpose for power jacks is as a warmup exercise for a variety of muscles.
What are power jacks good for?
Power jacks are mainly good for making the regular jumping jack exercise focus more on leg muscle endurance. In turn, power jacks are not as good for training cardiovascular health.