Running Jacks: How To Do, Benefits,…

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Standard exercises are often great but you can consider other options too. Find out what running jacks are and whether they are good.

Running jacks are a jumping jack variation where you jog in place while you move your arms in the same way as regular jumping jacks.

This makes running jacks focus more on your hip flexor, quadricep (front thigh), glute (butt), and hamstring (back thigh) muscles than regular jumping jacks.

On the other hand, running jacks focus less on your inner and outer thigh muscles.

If you don’t try to time each step with each arm movement, the cardiovascular effects are similar for both running jacks and jumping jacks.

In turn, you can say that running jacks can be useful for training cardiovascular health, warming up, and improving coordination. You may also get some muscle endurance improvements.

At the same time, it is worth mentioning there are more effective cardiovascular workouts too. The arm movements in running jacks can feel a bit awkward at high speeds.

How to do running jacks

Take the following steps to do running jacks:

  1. Stand upright with your feet together and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Move up the thigh of one leg like you would when running and keep the other leg on the ground for now. At the same time, move your arms sideways and upward until they are pointing up.
  3. Lower the highest leg and land with the leg slightly less than stretched and with the front of your foot first. At the same time, move up the other leg in the same way as step 2.
  4. Lower your arms back into starting position. At slow speeds, you can time this with your leg movements but at higher speeds, you do the lower body and upper body movements at their own pace.
  5. Keep alternating between these arm and leg movements for a certain number of repetitions or an amount of time.
How to do running jacks

As briefly mentioned, it is possible to time each running step with an arm movement but only at lower speeds. If you stick to this, you will get a suboptimal cardiovascular workout.

Instead, you likely want to really pick up the pace of your leg movements to get more benefits in a shorter amount of time.

You can also focus on raising your knees higher and switch to high knee jacks.

Additionally, you can combine both of these variations with wearing a weighted vest to work your leg muscles and cardiovascular system more.

Running jacks muscles worked

The main muscles worked in running jacks are your hip flexors, quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), calves, latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), deltoids (shoulders), and to some extent your core muscles.

That means running jacks work your hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings slightly more than the regular version of the exercise.

On the flip side, you also work your inner thigh and outer thigh muscles a lot less.

These details are mostly relevant if you have a specific preference for what areas you want to see muscle endurance improvements in.

Both running jacks and jumping jacks are not good for actually growing and strengthening the muscles they work.

Running jacks benefits

If let go of timing your arm and leg movements perfectly, running jacks can offer some benefits to a nice extent. Some examples of these are:

  1. Can improve cardiovascular health: By moving your body more intensely with running jacks your cardiovascular system will have to work harder. This can make this system healthier.
  2. Better muscle endurance improvements: Running jacks likely do not offer muscle growth but even then, you can improve your muscle endurance and make your muscles healthier.
  3. Improves mood: Your body tends to make more feel-good hormones during exercises like running jacks.
  4. Balance and coordination: The arm and leg movements in running jacks require some amount of balance and coordination. This can be a benefit because you can train these skills.
  5. Improves sleep: Doing running jacks throughout the day can improve your sleep quality and duration at night. In turn, this offers a variety of other valuable benefits.
  6. Can help with losing weight: Running jacks burn more calories than typical daily activities. This makes it easier to get to the point where you use more energy than is coming in and lose weight.
  7. No equipment or location required: All you need to do running jacks is your body and some space to move. This makes them budget-friendly and easy to do at home or wherever you are.

These things are very similar to the benefits of jumping jacks. Whether you want to go for running jacks or other alternatives also depends on what you like doing.

Running jack alternatives

You could also conclude that running jacks are not for you but that you do like their benefits. In that case, you can consider some of these running jack alternatives:

  • Running
  • Other jumping jack variations
  • High knees
  • Lateral raises
  • Butt kicks
  • Power skips

To choose between these running jack alternatives you want to decide what your training goals are and potentially try out a few options to see what you like doing.

Are running jacks a good exercise?

Running jacks can be a good exercise for improving your cardiovascular health, improving your coordination, warming up, and to some extent improving muscle endurance.

On the other hand, it is also worth mentioning that there are even more effective alternatives for these fitness goals too.

The main reason for this is that the arm movements in running jacks become somewhat awkward at high speeds. Even if you keep the timing of your arm and leg movements separate.

That being said, your personal preference matters too. Running jacks can still be a good exercise option that offers nice benefits. Especially if you really like doing this exercise.

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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.