Jumping jacks look challenging in a variety of ways but what type of exercise are they? Find out which ones and why the way you do them matters.
For most people, jumping jacks will mainly be a cardiovascular endurance exercise with potentially some muscular endurance improvements.
More specific than that, whether jumping jacks are aerobic or anaerobic exercise depends on how intensely you do them in relation to your cardiovascular capacities. At high intensities, this can become an anaerobic movement.
In theory, you could also do jumping jacks in a way that trains muscle power by doing them in a plyometric way where you really jump high.
In practice, this is not really the standard way of doing this exercise.
What component of fitness is jumping jacks?
There are many dimensions you can be “fit” in. The main fitness components include:
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Muscular endurance
- Muscular strength
- Muscular power
While it depends on how you do them, doing jumping jacks will mainly be helpful for training the cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance fitness components.
In theory, you could also focus on muscular power by focusing on jumping really high. However, when doing this, the exercise becomes more of a jump squat instead.
Are jumping jacks cardio or muscular?
Something to note about these fitness components is that exercises often work different areas at the same time. At least to some extent.
Jumping jacks are mainly cardio because they are typically the most challenging for your cardiovascular system.
You will generally have to stop doing repetitions because you get out of breath. Not because your muscles fatigue.
At the same time, one of the benefits of jumping jacks is that they still engage a variety of muscles in a certain amount.
In this sense, jumping jacks will likely also be a type of muscular endurance exercise to some extent.
Are jumping jacks anaerobic exercise?
Besides just saying that jumping jacks are helpful for training cardiovascular endurance, you can also get more specific.
It is possible to divide workouts like this into two smaller categories named aerobic and anaerobic exercise. These names come from the different ways your body produces energy at different intensities.
More specifically, aerobic exercise is where your body mainly uses oxygen to produce energy. In an anaerobic state, your body mainly produces energy in other ways.
How you do jumping jacks plays a big role in whether they are aerobic or anaerobic.
Generally speaking, when you do movements at 80 – 90% of your heart rate, you get into an anaerobic state.
That means doing jumping jacks at high intensities can be considered anaerobic exercise. At the same time, you can definitely do this movement in an aerobic way too.
Are jumping jacks muscular endurance?
As briefly mentioned, while jumping jacks are mostly a cardiovascular exercise, they also work a variety of muscles. Depending on your current strength levels, this could be enough to improve muscular endurance.
If you do a lot of weight lifting exercises, jumping jacks will likely not be enough to do much in this area.
On the flip side, if you are relatively new to exercise, you could improve endurance in some of the muscles jumping jacks target.
Especially in the ones like your deltoids (shoulders), calves, hip abductors (outer thighs), and hip adductors (inner thighs) since these have to do a decent amount of work compared to how strong they are.
In theory, you could even consider doing weighted jumping jacks if you are interested in improving muscle endurance. In practice, these variations are not always comfortable and convenient.
Lastly, even with these weighted variations, jumping jacks are typically improving muscular endurance, not strength. For this last fitness goal, you want to do resistance training exercises.
Potentially muscle power
By now, it should become clear that the way you do a movement influences what type of exercise it is and what fitness components it works.
Jumping jacks also involve a jump in between each stance. You could make this part of the movement plyometric by focusing on jumping really high.
Plyometric exercises are typically good for muscle power and can potentially even build some muscle mass and in turn, muscle strength.
That being said, jumping jacks are typically not done in this way for a few reasons.
First of all, from the position where your feet are slightly wider apart, it is challenging to really generate a lot of upward force.
Secondly, the arm movements of jumping jacks tend to get in the way of really generating a lot of power with your leg muscles.
Lastly, doing explosive movements like this with your arms tends to be uncomfortable and can potentially lead to injuries.