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March 08, 2023 8 min read
Star Jumps, a close cousin of jumping jacks, are a well-known plyometric and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercise. They are whole-body workouts, relatively simple to perform, require no equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. This article will explore the benefits of incorporating star jumps into your workout routine, as well as tips on how to do them properly.
Plyometric exercises like star jumps engage muscle groups both in the upper and lower body. It is a squat version of Jumping Jacks. Instead of jumping from a standing position, Star Jumps are performed from a squat position from where an explosive jump takes you into the air. Your fully extended arms and wide-spread legs in mid-air form a star shape.
Getting a good cardio workout is as simple as moving your body, such as doing bodyweight exercises like squat jumps, box jumps, burpees, jumping ropes, and jumping jacks. No matter what kind of bodyweight exercise you do, you will burn calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness.
A star jump would make a great addition to your body weight workout routine. It is a full-body exercise aimed at boosting your heart rate and breathing rate so that oxygenated blood gets to the following muscles faster.
Your hamstrings work with your glutes, to extend your hips during star jumps. Located on the back of your thigh, the three hamstring muscles are the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. The hamstrings also flex your knees going into the squat and exploding out of the squat.
Star jumps give your butt—glutes, or gluteus maximus—a thorough workout. The primary function of the glutes is the extension of your hips. The deep squat of star jumps gives the glutes a serious workout.
The quads are the muscles on the front of your thighs. They work to extend your knees, which means they work hard during star jumps. The four quadriceps are rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, medialis, and intermedius.
Every time you drive your legs outward as you explode into the star jump your hip abductors are put to work. Located on the outside of your hips, the hip abductors comprise the gluteus minimus and medius, and tensor fascia latae.
The work of the core muscles is to stabilize your spine during star jumps. These muscles make up your midsection, and they include the obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.
This is the name for the two calf muscles — the gastrocnemius and soleus. Together, these muscles work to plantarflex your ankle, and the gastrocnemius is also involved in knee flexion.
The deltoids are shoulder muscles that activate when you lift your arms up and out to the side when you do star jumps. The delts comprise three heads; anterior (front), posterior (rear), and medial (middle). While all three deltoid heads are being put to work in star jumps, the medial head does most of the work.
Working out for fitness and fat loss can often seem like complicated, expensive, and time-consuming pursuits. And while things like treadmills and assault bikes are useful training tools, they are not essential.
The gym is not the only place where you can get fit, burn fat, and tone your legs. Add star jumps to your workouts and enjoy these benefits anywhere and anytime.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
Tuck your chin to help keep your neck and head in a neutral position, and get your shoulders directly over your hips.
Let your arms hang by your sides.
Begin by inhaling deeply and exhaling, pre-tensioned hips and shoulders, and an engaged core.
With a neutral spine, lower into a quarter or a full squat position by bending your knees, hips, and ankles to form the correct starting position.
Here’s how to do it:
Push your feet into the ground to initiate an explosive jump.
As you jump into the air, reach with fully extended legs and arms out to the side, creating a star shape, or the letter X, in mid-air.
Land in a quarter or full squat position on the balls of your feet, and evenly distribute the weight along each entire foot, as your bent hips and knees absorb the force.
Use your heels and midfoot area to support your body weight while keeping your knees in line with your engaged toes.
Land gently and controlled with your core engaged.
Continue to jump for the desired number of repetitions or a specific period of time.
Doing star jumps as dynamic pre-workout stretches or a general bodyweight exercise, you can do any number of desired repetitions. However, if they form part of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, the star jumps will be done for a specific period of time instead of a number of reps.
Your fitness level will determine the amount of time you should spend doing star jumps. Performing the jumps for 15 to 20 seconds is a fair goal for beginners. As your fitness, endurance, and strength improve, you can extend the time to between 45 and 60 seconds.
You may want to add a level of intensity as you become a master star jumper. You can turn up the speed of your performance, jump higher, or squat lower, as long as you don’t compromise the proper form and technique.
1. Jumping jacks: If you’re having trouble with jumping from the squat position when performing star jump exercises, consider first practicing with jumping jacks, which use a lesser range of motion in your upper and lower body as you jump with straight legs from a standing position.
2. Star jump burpees: Turn up the intensity of star jumps by including a burpee movement between each repetition.
3. Weighted star jumps: Add some resistance to your star jump exercises by adding a pair of dumbbells or ankle weights. However, you would have to pay even more attention to your form throughout the entire range of motion to prevent injuries.
The benefits of this compound exercise are infinite, including those listed below.
Because you don’t need any equipment to do star jumps, you can do them as part of your home workout, or even in the backyard or your local park.
Adjustable Intensity Level
You can adjust star jumps to fit your fitness and experience levels — easier or harder — by altering your jump height, lowering your squat, or adding resistance like ankle weights, a resistance band, or holding a pair of dumbbells.
Develop Leg Power
While star jumps are known for their calorie-burning and cardiovascular benefits, they’re also powerful lower-body exercises. If you’re an avid sports athlete, star jumps can boost the explosive power of your legs.
Star jumps are plyometric exercises that load the body's spine and legs to reduce the risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Star jumps are a high-intensity cardio workout, making them excellent for building endurance and for strengthening cardiopulmonary (heart and lungs) fitness. For example, a 2015 Sports Medicine meta-analysis found that HIIT improves VO2 max (the max amount of oxygen you can take in and use) more effectively than endurance training does.
Total-Body Strength and Power
Star Jumps are one of many compound bodyweight exercises that work muscles across the entire body. It's particularly beneficial for enhancing power and strength through the lower body.
Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
If weight loss or maintenance is your goal, including star jumps in your HIIT may also be more time-efficient than steady-state cardio. Furthermore, the exercise's strength component supports lean muscle mass.
Easy to Learn
Star jumps are a relatively simple exercise that can typically be mastered in minutes, making them ideal for group training situations.
In spite of the benefits that star jumps provide, there are also a few drawbacks to take into consideration.
Landing after a star jump involves high impact, especially if you are muscular and heavy or just overweight. If you have lower back foot, knee, ankle, or hip issues, star jumps may not be safe or comfortable. The impact can be reduced by wearing shock-absorbing shoes, or doing star jumps on more forgiving surfaces like an exercise mat, or grass.
If your knees tend to roll in and out when you do squats, they may be even more unstable when you do star jumps, increasing injury risks. Therefore, if you have unstable knees, you would be wise to swap star jumps for another plyometric exercise that requires less knee stability.
Anyone with knee issues like cartilage or ligament injuries should know that the impact of landing and the deep squat position could exacerbate the problems. Any history of knee pain is a sign that you should discuss alternative exercises with a personal trainer.
Having said that, here are some common mistakes to avoid when you do star jumps.
Star jumps are great exercises that benefit many of your major muscle groups and to optimize all the benefits you should note these common mistakes, and avoid them when you include star jumps in your fitness routine.
Incorrect Squat Form
The foundation of each star jump is the squat that engages your lower body. Be sure not to make any squat mistakes like allowing your knees to collapse toward each other, or arching your lower back.
Relaxing Your Core
Keeping your core engaged is how you maintain control of your upper body when doing star jumps. A relaxed core when you land in the squat position after the jump could be detrimental. Losing control of your upper body can cause your chest to slam into your knees.
Not Using Your Arms
If you don’t extend your arms as you jump up into the air, your star jump will lack explosiveness, defeating the purpose of the exercise.
Landing With Stiff Legs
If you don’t keep your knees unlocked and slightly bent, you’ll put your lower back, knees, and ankles at risk.
Working Through the Pain
This is the biggest mistake you could make — not stopping when you feel pain or discomfort while doing star jumps. Every move you make from then on can worsen whatever is going on.
Furthermore, if you have a pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program. Even if you do an exercise with perfect form, previous injuries could surface again, and you might have to make minor adjustments to the exercise to make it safe for you. Your CPT could be a part of this and help work out a fitness routine that won’t jeopardize your wellness.
Bodyweight exercises such as star jumps, push-ups, burpees, and running can be every bit as effective as state-of-the-art training equipment you typically find in the gym, but they’re free to use, whenever and wherever.
You can do hundreds of bodyweight conditioning exercises, and star jumps are a worthy addition to your workout toolbox. Be warned, though; they’re a lot tougher than they look!
Whether you work out at home or at your local gym, don’t forget to take your Charged-AF to increase performance, energy, and focus while providing you with essential nutrients to optimize anaerobic and aerobic capacity.
To see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, cool-downs, rest, and nutrition into your fitness and exercise routine. Your results and progress will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts.
The rule of thumb is to rest muscles for 24 to 48 hours after workouts before targeting the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery. Work on different muscle groups during that period.
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