You can change the movements in jumping jacks to get slightly different results. Discover how to do twist jacks and whether they are any good.
Twist jacks are a jumping jack variation where you rotate your upper body to a certain extent and move your legs forward and back.
These different movements make it so twist jacks focus more on your obliques, hip flexors, glute (butt), and hamstring (back thigh) muscles than regular jumping jacks.
Additionally, you work the middle part of the deltoids (shoulder), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), inner thigh muscles, and outer thigh muscles a lot less.
That being said, rotating your upper body too much can be uncomfortable. Especially in a more active exercise like twist jacks where your movements are not that controlled.
On top of that, the benefits of twist jacks are not really that special.
For these reasons, most people generally don’t want to do the twist jack exercise.
If you do decide to do twist jacks, your body can deal with this exercise, and you do it with the right technique, they will mainly help you improve coordination, warm up, and improve your cardiovascular health to some extent.
How to do a twist jack
Take the following steps to do a twist jack:
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Jump up. While in the air, move one leg backward, move one leg forward, and rotate your body a small amount to one side. Time it so your body is rotated the most when you land.
- Land with your legs slightly bent so the landing is more comfortable.
- Jump and while in the air move the back leg forward and the front leg backward. Rotate your body back a small amount to the opposite side.
- Repeat steps 2 – 4 for a certain number of repetitions or an amount of time.
Holding your hands together can help reduce uncontrolled swinging of your arms.
In twist jacks you mainly want to make sure you don’t twist your upper body too far and that you keep your spine more or less straight.
Start with very slow twist jacks and only consider building up speed if you know you can control your movements.
Even if you do these things, twist jacks may not be for you. The vigorous spine twisting involved can be too uncomfortable.
Twist jacks muscles worked
The main muscles you work with twist jacks are your hip flexors, calves, quadriceps (front thighs), glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), obliques, and abs.
This is different from jumping jacks in that you work your obliques, hip flexors, glutes, and hamstring muscles more.
At the same time, twist jacks also work your deltoids (shoulders), latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back), hip adductors (inner thighs), and hip abductors (outer thighs) less than the regular version.
It is important to note that you should not expect any muscle growth in these areas. No matter whether you choose twist jacks or regular jumping jacks.
That being said, both exercises can still improve muscle endurance, slow down muscle degradation, and make the muscles healthier.
Twist jacks benefits
Twists jacks are likely not the top exercise choice for your situation but they can still offer nice benefits. Some of these include:
- Cardiovascular health improvements: Twist jacks work your cardiovascular system to a nice extent. If you do this enough (but not too much) you can strengthen this system.
- Can help with losing weight: By making your movements more vigorous with an exercise like twist jacks you burn more energy. In turn, this can make it easier to get to the point where you lose weight.
- Better muscle endurance: Working your muscles with twist jacks is likely not enough to see growth but could still offer improvements in endurance.
- Improves mood: Exercise tends to promote the release of hormones that make you feel better. This applies to twist jacks too.
- Balance and coordination: Moving your body as intended and not falling down are skills you can train. Twist jacks could be enough to help you with this.
- No equipment or location required: You don’t have to invest in fitness equipment or drive to your local gym to be able to do twist jacks. This can save you money and time.
- Improves sleep: Implementing twist jacks throughout the day can benefit your sleep quality and duration at night.
If you really like twist jacks and these benefits align with your training goals, you can consider doing this exercise more often.
Twist jack alternatives
Most people want to play it safe and do one of the twist jack alternatives instead. These also often offer more benefits in shorter amounts of time.
- Pallof presses
- Side plank variations
- Other jumping jack variations
- High knees
- Standing cable Russian twists
- Mountain climbers
You want to think about what areas of your health you want to improve to be able to choose between these twist jack alternatives.
Are twist jacks a good exercise?
Twist jacks can help you warm up and offer improvements in coordination, muscle endurance, and cardiovascular health.
That being said, this also comes at a certain injury risk. Some people will find twist jacks uncomfortable on their spines. Especially at high speeds.
Add to this that twist jacks are also not that great in the fitness components they do work and the result is that most people want to stay away from twist jacks.
Instead, the alternatives above and other exercises can offer more benefits in a shorter amount of time with a lower risk of uncomfortable movements.
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What is a twist jack exercise?
The twist jack is a movement where you jump up, twist your upper body to one side, move one leg forward, and move one leg backward.