You can change up your jumping jacks in many ways. Discover how to do press jacks, what benefits they offer, and whether they are better options.
Press jacks are a jumping jack variation where you move your hands straight up like in a shoulder press. Your legs do the same outward-inward movement as the regular version. You can hold light weights as extra resistance.
This makes it so press jacks focus slightly more on the front part of the deltoids (main shoulder muscle) and less on the middle part of the deltoids than regular jumping jacks.
One benefit of press jacks is that many people will find the slightly more forward position of the upper arms more comfortable.
Additionally, you could find it easier to do press jacks at high speeds which would benefit your cardiovascular workout.
In short, even though there are also more effective alternatives, press jacks can be helpful for training cardiovascular health, improving coordination, and warming up.
How to do a press jack
Take the following steps to do a press jack:
- Stand upright with your feet together, hands at about shoulder height, and elbows close to your sides.
- Jump up and while in the air, move your legs sideways and outward and push your hands up. Keep your upper arms pointing at angles of about 45 degrees to your shoulders.
- Land with your legs slightly less than stretched, feet wide apart, and arms pointing up.
- Jump back into starting position. This includes lowering your arms again.
The main thing to pay attention to when doing press jacks is the angle of your upper arms.
To keep your shoulder joints in a comfortable and safe position you want to point your upper arms somewhat forward.
Besides that, getting good at press jacks is mostly a case of practice.
Over time, you can increase the speed of your movements to work your cardiovascular system more.
Another way to do this is by wearing a light weighted vest. This will also work your leg muscles just a bit more.
Press jacks muscles worked
The muscles you work with press jacks are your hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), calves, deltoids (shoulders), triceps, and latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back).
Press jacks work your front deltoids and triceps slightly more than regular jumping jacks.
On the flip side, this variation also works your middle deltoids just a bit less.
Both press jacks and regular jumping jacks will typically not help you build muscle mass in these areas. For this purpose, they are generally not challenging enough.
That being said, improving muscle endurance can still be helpful too.
In theory, you could do press jacks with shoulder workout equipment like dumbbells, a medicine ball, etc. to increase your chances of building muscle.
That being said, this will typically interfere with your cardiovascular training and offer a suboptimal workout. Something like regular shoulder presses would be a better choice.
Press jack exercise benefits
An exercise does not have to be number one in terms of effectiveness to give you a good workout. Press jacks can still offer some of the following benefits:
- Can improve cardiovascular health: Doing press jacks will mainly be challenging for your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. This can benefit your cardiovascular health.
- Balance and coordination: The first few times you do press jacks can feel awkward due to the balance and coordination requirements. Over time, this can go away because the exercise can improve your skills.
- Muscle endurance: Working your muscles with press jacks is likely not enough to cause growth. Even so, engaging these can still offer benefits like better muscle endurance.
- Improves sleep: Exercising more often can help improve your sleep quality and duration. This applies to your press jack sessions too.
- Improves mood: Moving more vigorously with something like press jacks tends to promote the release of endorphins. These are hormones that typically improve your mood.
- Can help with losing weight: Exercises like press jacks make the weight loss process easier by increasing the amount of energy you use.
- Bodyweight exercise: You can get started with press jacks right away without investing in exercise equipment or gym subscriptions.
It is nice to know that adding an exercise like press jacks to your routine can do so many good things.
Press jack alternatives
As you may notice, these effects are similar to the benefits of jumping jacks and many other exercises. If you prefer one of the press jack alternatives below, you can definitely consider them too.
- Jumping jacks
- Shoulder presses
- Side shuffles
- Front raises
- Jumping rope
- Lateral raises
- Weighted leg adductions or abductions
What areas of press jacks you like and don’t like will influence your decision between these alternatives a lot. You can also try out a few options to see what you like more.
Are press jacks a good exercise?
Press jacks can be a good exercise for improving your cardiovascular health, coordination, and to some extent muscle endurance.
This movement can also be helpful for warming up a variety of muscles and tendons.
Press jacks could be a good alternative to jumping jacks if you find the regular version just a bit too uncomfortable on your shoulder joints or too awkward to do at high speeds.
Besides these, the movements are similar in terms of the benefits they offer.
It is also worth mentioning that press jacks are not completely unique either.
If you prefer some of the alternatives with similar or more benefits, these can definitely be great choices for your workout routine too.
What is a press jack?
A press jack is a jumping jack variation where you raise your hands straight up instead of sideways and up. You still jump out and in with your legs. The different arm movements change what muscles you engage slightly.