You can combine many exercises but this is often not that great. Find out how to do squat jacks and whether they are worth it.
Squat jacks are a variation of jumping jacks where you do a sumo squat movement instead of keeping your legs straight after the jump. Your arm movements are the same as regular jumping jacks.
The result is that squat jacks work your quadriceps, inner thighs, and to some extent glutes and hamstrings more than regular jumping jacks.
That being said, the extra squats also make it harder to do squat jacks at higher speeds.
Additionally, the bodyweight squats involved are often not that great for building a lot of muscle mass either.
So if you want to combine your cardiovascular and quadricep endurance training with a bit of shoulder muscle engagement, you could consider squat jacks.
However, many people will prefer the more effective exercise alternatives available.
How to do a squat jack
Take the following steps to do a squat jack:
- Stand upright and let your arms hang by your sides for now.
- Jump up slightly and move your legs sideways and outward. Additionally, move your arms sideways and upward.
- Land with your legs slightly less than stretched, feet wider than shoulder-width apart, and arms pointing upward.
- 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 so that you jump at the top of the movement. While in the air, move your legs to the center and arms sideways and down.
- Land with your legs slightly less than stretched so that you are back in starting position.
You can also do squat jacks in a way where you start with your arms pointing up. This is mostly a case of personal preference.
It is normal that you have to get used to the squat jack movement to some extent.
Even when you do get used to squat jacks, doing them at higher speeds can feel somewhat awkward.
That being said, it can still be smart to go for these higher speeds since they offer more cardiovascular health benefits.
Another way to do this is by wearing a weighted vest while doing squat jacks. This will also work your leg muscles to a larger extent.
Muscles worked with squat jacks
To complete all of the movements in squat jacks a variety of muscles will have to pull your body parts in the right directions.
More specifically, squat jacks work your hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), quadriceps (front thighs), deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), and to some extent glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back thighs).
The extra squat movement in squat jacks makes it so you work your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings more than in regular jumping jacks.
You could also say that you spend slightly less time on engaging your outer thighs, deltoids, and latissimus dorsi while doing squat jacks because the extra squat movement takes a bit of time to complete.
While regular jumping jacks typically don’t build muscle, squat jacks could actually offer some quadricep muscle growth for resistance training beginners.
Especially if these people do squat jacks with the extra resistance from a weighted vest.
That being said, if you are serious about growing and strengthening muscles you likely want to turn to resistance training workouts instead.
Squat jacks benefits
Squat jacks will typically focus more on the leg muscle endurance aspect but from a high-level view, you can expect results that are similar to the benefits of regular jumping jacks.
Some examples of these include:
- Muscle endurance: Squat jacks work leg muscles like your quadriceps to a nice extent. This can lead to better muscle endurance and potentially even growth for certain individuals.
- Can improve cardiovascular health: Moving your body more intensely when doing squat jacks requires your cardiovascular system to work harder. This can benefit the health of this system.
- Balance and coordination: Your first few times doing squat jacks can feel a bit awkward. Over time, this exercise can improve your balance and coordination.
- No equipment or location required: While a weighted vest can sometimes be useful, you can get nice benefits from bodyweight squat jacks. This makes it so you don’t have to invest in equipment or drive to your local gym.
- Improves sleep: Doing squat jacks throughout the day can benefit the quality and duration of your sleep at night.
- Can help with losing weight: By moving your body more intensely you also increase your energy usage. This helps you get to the weight loss point where you use more energy than is coming in.
- Improves mood: Workouts tend to promote the release of endorphins. You can also expect these so-called feel-good hormones while doing squat jacks.
You don’t have to stick to squat jacks to get these benefits but they can be useful if you like the exercise and its effects.
Squat jack alternatives
Squat jacks do still offer the benefits above but it is fair to say that there are more effective ways to get these too.
More specifically, some examples of squat jack alternatives are:
- Other jumping jack variations
- (Weighted) squats
- Side shuffles
- Weighted leg adductions or abductions
What squat jack alternatives are the best for your situation depends on details like what areas of your health you want to improve and what muscles you want to work.
Are squat jacks a good exercise?
Squat jacks can be a decent exercise for people who want to combine cardiovascular and leg muscle endurance training with some shoulder muscle engagement.
You will likely also see coordination improvements from squat jacks and be able to use them as a warm-up exercise.
Compared to regular jumping jacks, squat jacks mostly stand out in the extra leg muscle workout.
Squat jacks do also make it harder to work your cardiovascular health because the movements are more awkward to do at high speeds.
It is also worth mentioning that keeping the workouts for the fitness components above separately is likely more effective.
Even if you really like doing squat jacks, you likely want to implement some of these more effective alternatives too to see a lot of training results.
What is a squat jack?
A squat jack is a jumping jack variation where you squat down when your feet are outward. The sideways arm and leg movements stay the same.
What are squat jacks good for?
Squat jacks are mainly good for adding some extra quadricep and inner thigh muscle engagement to jumping jacks. This can lead to extra endurance improvements and potentially even a bit of muscle growth for resistance training beginners.