Squat Jumps: A Powerful and Convenient Way to Build Muscle
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Whether your clients want to improve their athletic performance or want a fun, challenging exercise, squat jumps are an excellent option. Squat jumps are intense and high impact but incredibly effective when performed correctly.
- how to do a standard squat jump
- why squat jumps are awesome, and
- variations and tips you can use when implementing them into your clients’ programs.
How to Do a Standard Squat Jump
Your client will begin in a standing position with their feet about shoulder-width apart. Their toes should be slightly pointed out, core engaged, and spine neutral. They will slowly lower their hips into a bodyweight squat. They will hinge at the hips (hip hinge), push the butt back, and their arms will come out in front of their body to help counter-balance the weight.
The client will explode up and off the ground, fully extending their knees, ankles, and hips. They’ll bring their arms down and back (for momentum) as their feet come off the ground. They will land softly on the balls of their feet, immediately transitioning into another squat by bending their knees, ankles, and hips.
Why Squat Jumps Rock
Squat jumps are a popular exercise for many reasons. Here are a few we love:
1. Convenience: Squat jumps are easy to add to almost any workout. They can be done without equipment, anywhere, and with very little space.
2. Almost a full-body exercise: Squat jumps are an awesome exercise for engaging the lower body. The calves, hamstrings, glute muscles, and quadriceps do the bulk of the work, but the movement requires the engagement of the core and arms as well.
3. Improve athletic performance: Squat jumps are a great exercise for athletes. They have shown to be valuable for improving 50m sprint time, vertical jump, and many other components of athletic performance.
4. Explosive exercise: Although this falls under “improving athletic performance,” it’s worth highlighting. Improving the body’s ability to exert maximum force as fast as possible (power) is a valuable trait for many sports. Squat jumps are an excellent explosive, plyometric exercise. They’re helpful for developing explosive strength (1) and power (2). However, keep in mind, plyometric workouts are typically for more advanced clients. Joint strength, flexibility, and proper form are important for injury prevention.
5. Cardiovascular workout: Squat jumps are a great way to get the heart rate up and the blood pumping. Structure them in intervals for an awesome calorie burn and an effective fat burning exercise!
3 Squat Jump Variations to Maximize Your Goals
There are a few different squat jump variations. The variation you use and the way you implement it into a client’s workout will depend on their goals. The following list includes three squat jump variations:
1. Weighted Squat Jumps
The first squat jump variation is a weighted version of the bodyweight jump squat. It’s performed with the same form as the standard jump squat, but the client is either wearing or holding the weight. (Note: Standard squat jump form might be slightly altered depending on the type of weight used. Example: If a client is holding a barbell, they won’t swing their arms back and forth for balance and momentum.)
There are several options for adding weight to a client’s squat jump. Clients can wear a weighted vest, rest a barbell on their shoulders, or use resistance jump training equipment. They can also hold dumbbells or kettlebells between their legs or on the outside of their legs. When choosing the appropriate weight to load, consider the following:
- A client’s abilities and goals
- Amount of weight needed
- Range of motion
- Freedom of movement
2. Alternating Squat Jumps
The next squat jump variation can be done with or without weight. The proper form for an alternating squat jump is the same as the standard squat jump. However, for every other rep, the client will not leave the ground—they will complete a bodyweight squat instead. So, the repetitions will look like this: squat jump, bodyweight squat, squat jump, bodyweight squat, squat, and so on. The reps should all flow together like the standard jump squat.
3. Squat Jumps with Tuck
Like the first two variations, the third variation of the squat jump is the same form as the standard squat jump. However, when the client explodes up, they will quickly drive both knees up toward their chest and back down before landing. This variation is a progression to the standard squat jump. Ensure your client has proper jump squat form before adding the tuck.
A Few Final Tips
Here are a few additional things to consider before adding jump squats to your clients’ routines:
- Although squat jumps are fun and effective, they’re likely not an exercise you want to suggest for clients with back, knee, ankle, or other lower-body injuries.
- Before you progress your client to a squat jump, ensure they can execute a bodyweight squat with proper form. However, keep in mind proper squat form can vary from person to person for a variety of reasons.
- As always, it’s important your clients are properly warmed up prior to their squat jumps.
Love learning about how different exercises and training protocols can improve athletic performance? ISSA’s Strength & Conditioning Coach course is perfect for you! You’ll learn to develop individualized programs that improve the human body while adjusting for movement limitations, injury prevention tactics, and sports psychology.
- Marián, Vanderka, et al. “Improved Maximum Strength, Vertical Jump, and Sprint Performance after 8 Weeks of Jump Squat Training with Individualized Loads.” Journal of sports science & medicine. Vol. 15,3 492-500. 5 Aug. 2016
- Turner, Thomas S., Tobin, Daniel P., Delahunt, Eamonn. “Peak Power in the Hexagonal Barbell Jump Squat and its Relationship to Jump Performance and Acceleration in Elite Rugby Union Players.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Vol.29, 5 1234-1239. May 2015
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