How to Do Jumping Jacks

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Classic jumping jacks provide a simple calisthenic exercise with many health benefits. For example, they can burn calories to help with weight management, improve your cardiovascular endurance and strengthen and tone your muscles. Jumping jacks can be incorporated into any fitness program as part of a dynamic warm-up or as a short, high-intensity workout. There are many ways to do jumping jacks, and with slight changes in technique and optional training aids, the classic jumping jack can be made more challenging.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand weights (optional)
  • Ankle weights (optional)

Jumping Jack Techniques

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a slight bend in your knees and your arms by your sides to start the basic jumping jack. Simultaneously jump, raise your arms overhead and spread your legs out to the sides. Land on the balls of your feet with your legs apart and with a slight bend in your knees to absorb the shock. Immediately jump again and bring your arms and legs back to the starting position to complete one jumping jack. Repeat continuously without pausing between jumps.

  • Add a 90-degree turn after each jumping jack for variety. Perform the first jumping jack as usual. For the second jumping jack, jump and rotate 90 degrees to your left while airborne. Land with your feet apart and immediately jump again and land with your feet together. Continue rotating 90 degrees with each jumping jack. After the fourth jumping jack, you should be back to the starting position.

  • Make another technique change to perform spit jacks. Start with your feet staggered -- right foot forward and left foot back -- and your arms by your sides. Jump and switch your legs while airborne, moving your right foot backward and your left foot forward. At the same time, raise your left arm above your head and move your right arm backward. Land with your legs staggered, immediately jump and switch your legs and arms again. Repeat without pausing between jumps. For a greater challenge, lower your body into a lunge position with each landing.

  • Challenge your core muscles with plank jacks. Start in a plank position -- with your body straight and balanced on your hands and toes. Hold your arms straight, your hands below your shoulders and your legs extended behind you. While keeping your upper body as still as possible and your back straight, jump your feet apart. Immediately jump again and bring your feet back together. Repeat without pausing between jumps.

Workouts and Scheduling

  • Perform jumping jacks before a vigorous activity or workout to warm up your muscles. As part of a five-minute dynamic warm-up, perform jumping jacks at a moderate pace for about 30 seconds and include other activities such as marching in place or riding a stationary bike.

  • Design a jumping-jack workout to help meet your fitness goals. For an aerobic workout, for example, perform as many basic jumping jacks as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, perform a jumping jack variation for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat the series eight to 10 times.

  • Set aside enough time each week for your workouts. For important health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week. If this isn't possible, try to fit in two to three short jumping-jack sessions each day.

Tips & Warnings

  • To intensify your jumping jacks, add resistance by holding light hand weights or using ankle weights.
  • Jumping jacks are a high-impact exercise and can be hard on your joints. Consult your doctor before starting a jumping-jack exercise program.

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References

  • Photo Credit Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images
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