You can switch up your workout routine in many ways. Find out how to do start jumps, their benefits, and what other options you have.
Star jumps are a jump squat variation where you swing your legs and arms outward and inward while you are in the air.
By doing this you engage your inner thigh, outer thigh, shoulder, and latissimus dorsi muscles to a bigger extent.
Star jumps are mostly good for building muscle, improving jump height, and improving athletic performance.
The main downsides of this exercise are that the arm and leg movements can be uncomfortable and awkward. These things could lead to injuries and/or a suboptimal workout.
Additionally, some people will find plyometric exercises like star jumps too uncomfortable anyway.
Besides these things, people who are more experienced with plyometric and resistance training may need to make bodyweight star jumps more challenging or turn to alternatives.
How to do a star jump
Before doing the full version of a star jump you definitely want to warm up your muscles in one way or another. Even then, not everyone will be able to deal with star jumps.
Additionally, you may prefer to do the exercise on a soft surface and/or with shoes that absorb the shocks somewhat.
With these things in mind, take the following steps to do a star jump:
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Slowly lower your upper body as far as comfortable by folding your legs. Keep your spine more or less straight.
- Push yourself up in a fast way. You have to generate enough upward power so that you jump in the air. At the same time, start moving your hands sideways and upward.
- While in the air, move your hands sideways and upward and your legs sideways. At the top of the movement, your body makes up a star shape.
- Move your arms back down and legs to the center before you land. Make sure you land with your legs at least slightly less than stretched.
It is somewhat normal that you will not be able to time your movements perfectly the first few times. It takes a while to get used to star jumps.
If you do conclude that you are not ready for full star jumps you can also start with exercise alternatives like bodyweight squats, jump squats, and jumping jacks.
Once you can do these without issues, you can consider more basic versions of star jumps.
This can mean lowering your body less, only moving your arms to a small extent, and/or only doing a small jump.
Muscles worked with star jumps
The main muscles you work with star jumps include your quadriceps (front thighs), hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), deltoids (shoulders), and latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back).
Additionally, star jumps work your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), calves, and core muscles to certain extents too.
Compared to regular jump squats, star jumps engage your inner thighs, outer thighs, shoulders, and latissimus dorsi more.
Whether or not star jumps will be enough to grow and/or improve power in all of these muscles depends on details like your current strength level and how intensely you do them.
If the bodyweight version is too easy you can potentially wear a compact weighted vest so that your arms still have enough room to move.
Do keep in mind that these weighted star jumps are also harder on your body.
Another way to modify star jumping is doing them at a faster pace to make it more of a jumping jack variation and cardio challenge.
However, you typically do star jumps as plyometric training. For training cardiovascular health there are many better options.
Star jump exercise benefits
Star jumps are not always perfect for every situation but if you can do them successfully, they can offer nice benefits. Some of these include:
- Stronger muscles: Doing star jumps with the right reps, sets, and resistance can help you grow and strengthen certain muscles.
- Can help with losing weight: The extra energy usage and extra muscle mass from doing star jumps can benefit weight loss. Keep in mind that this result is not guaranteed.
- Improves athletic performance: Improving your leg muscle power with star jumps can help you perform better in a variety of sports.
- Improves mood: Exercises like star jumps tend to promote the release of endorphins. These are hormones that typically make you feel better.
- No equipment or location required: Many people will be able to see nice results from bodyweight star jumps. This is budget and time-friendly.
- Improves sleep: You can improve your sleep quality and duration by implementing a workout habit with exercises like star jumps.
- Balance & coordination: Star jumps tend to be hard in terms of balance and coordination. This can benefit your skills in these areas.
- Bone density: Pressuring your bones to safe extents can help you strengthen them.
It is true that star jumps are not the only exercise that offers these benefits.
At the same time, if you like the unique muscle engagement and training style, you can definitely consider star jumps.
Disadvantages of star jumps
While star jumps can be good in certain situations, you also want to know about the potential downsides of this exercise.
The first disadvantage of star jumps is that the shoulder movements can be uncomfortable.
Your shoulder joints are relatively injury-sensitive joints and the explosive movements in star jumps do not help with keeping things as safe as possible.
Secondly, star jumps can be challenging in terms of coordination. People who are only interested in plyometric training for their quads will likely prefer a regular jump squat.
Thirdly, plyometric leg exercises like star jumps can just be uncomfortable on your ankles, knees, and back.
Some people want to avoid movements like these.
Star jump alternatives
From the benefits and disadvantages, you may conclude star jumps are not perfect for you. In that case, you could prefer some of these alternatives instead:
- Jump squats
- Box jumps
- Regular squats
- Agility drills
- Weighted leg abductions and adductions
- Lateral raises
What fitness components and muscles you want to train will influence what star jump alternatives you prefer.
Are star jumps a good exercise?
Star jumps can be good for specific goals like improving muscle power in certain areas and improving coordination. This exercise can also be good for strengthening your bones.
You do want to keep in mind that star jumps are not always perfect either.
For example, the arm movements can be uncomfortable and do not offer that many extra benefits.
Additionally, not many people will care about the results of adding the sideways leg movements either.
If these things apply to you, you will likely prefer jump squats or box jumps over star jumps.
Next, people who are just interested in building muscle will find star jumps suboptimal too.
In short, star jumps can offer nice benefits but after looking at the disadvantages many people will conclude that other alternatives align more with their training goals.
What do star jumps do to your body?
Star jumps can improve your leg muscle power and potentially grow your quadricep (front thigh) muscles. Additionally, you could potentially lose some body fat by doing star jumps.
What is the difference between a star jump and a jumping jack?
The difference between a star jump and a jumping jack is that the star jump involves a higher jump and removes the landing between the two stances. Instead, you raise and lower your arms and move your legs outward and inward in one jump.