You get you a lot of bang for your buck with this move, says Jessica Matthews, MS, personal training expert with The American Council on Exercise: “Jumping jacks work most of the muscles in your body, and provide cardiovascular and cardio respiratory benefits.” Plus, it’s perfect if you’re pressed for time, since it covers two key components of a well-rounded fitness routine.
The full body
Step 1: Start with your legs together and arms by your side.
Step 2: At the same time, jump both feet to the sides and quickly raise your arms overhead until your hands touch; then jump back to start position. When jumping, keep your knees slightly bent and make sure you land on the ball mounds of your feet. This allows your body’s and key joints to absorb the impact, explains Matthews. Also, don’t forget to breathe: Inhale through your nose, out through your mouth.
Start with eight to 12. Or do this move for 10 to 15 seconds between sets of other strength exercises (such as squats or lunges) for a short burst of cardio.
Tap instead of jump. You can get the same intensity and heart-pumping benefits from jumping jacks, without the high impact of jumping, says Matthews. To make the move lower-impact and more joint-friendly, tap one foot out to the side as you bring your arms overhead; then tap it back in to start position. Then tap the other foot out, and alternate.
Try the seal jack. Instead of bringing your hands overhead when you jump, clap them in front of you. You still get all the same benefits, says Matthews, but it’s a fun way to vary the move and provides a different joint action for your upper body.