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How To Do Plyo Jacks? (A Dynamic Full-Body Exercise Guide)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Last updated: May 9, 2023

From elementary PE to high school sports and adult fitness classes, jumping jacks are a staple exercise. Plyo jacks are a more involved and challenging variation of the classic exercise.

Even before I became a fitness trainer a decade ago, plyo jacks were a favorite because they are a dynamic, full-body exercise that effectively improves cardiovascular endurance and muscle power.

This article will detail how to do plyo jacks and discuss variations, benefits, and drawbacks.

Let’s jump in.

Quick Summary

  • Plyo jacks are a more challenging variation of the classic jumping jack.
  • Because plyo jacks increase your heart rate, they are good for cardiovascular health.
  • The deeper the squat, the more challenging your plyo jack workouts will be.

How To Do Plyo Jacks

how to do plyo jacks

Plyo jacks involve similar movements as jumping jacks.

With jumping jacks, you jump your feet out wide on the ground.

With plyo jacks, you explode up from a squat as you jump your feet out wide.

Here is how to perform plyo jacks, but remember to keep the reps, sets, and pace appropriate for your fitness level:

  1. Start standing with your feet slightly apart and your arms by your side.
  2. Lower down into a half-squat position, then explosively jump up while separating your legs and arms overhead and outwards to create an “X” shape.
  3. As your feet land, immediately reverse the motion by rapidly bringing the legs and arms together to return to the starting position.
  4. That completes one repetition of plyo jacks. Keep good form throughout the exercise and focus on maintaining control of your body as you explode onto the platform and come back down.
  5. Repeat this motion until the desired number of repetitions is complete, and then rest before continuing if necessary.

Useful Tips

Doing plyo jacks indoors

Keep these few things in mind when performing plyo jacks:

  • Land properly on your feet. During the jump phase, land more on your toes than your heels. Allowing the heels to touch the ground first causes the knees to absorb the impact.
  • Up the challenge. Dropping further into the squat position increases the difficulty of this exercise.
  • Start slow with fewer reps. Especially if plyo jacks are a new exercise, you should make sure you slowly pick up the pace as you perfect the movement.
  • Be gentle to your feet, knees, and hips. As with jumping jacks, perform plyo jacks on an even surface that is grass, rubber, or other shock-absorbing material. Try to avoid cement or asphalt.
  • Choose proper footwear. Wear shoes that support your ankles and cushion your feet.

“It is widely accepted that two of the most efficient ways to burn fat and get lean are strength training and high-intensity interval training. Plyometrics, a form of strength training that requires jumping and repetition, is really a combination of the two.”

- Chris Freytag, Author at The American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Benefits of the Plyo Jack

Performing Plyo jacks

Plyo jacks are an effective and challenging exercise that can help improve your overall physical fitness.

Let’s explore a few specifics.

1. It’s a Full-Body Workout

Because of the squat position, the explosive jump, and the extension of the arms overhead, plyo jacks effectively work many muscles, including the hamstrings and quads in the thighs, while also engaging the shoulders.

Additionally, the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle of the glutes and the primary hip extensor, is engaged. Healthy hips boost mobility, balance, and stability, making everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs easier.

2. You Will Burn Fat

Woman with less fats

Plyo jacks are an explosive, high-intensity fat loss exercise that increases your heart rate and burns calories while building strength and endurance.

They require both lower body muscles, such as the quads, hamstrings, and calves, and upper body muscles, like the deltoids, to be actively engaged.

This dynamic, full-body exercise requires high explosiveness that helps shred fat.

3. It’s a Great Cardio Workout

The pace at which you perform plyo jacks combined with the explosive movements builds up your cardiovascular fitness by pushing your heart rate zone up and boosting your stamina over time.

This benefit spills over to other activities where endurance and conditioning are critical.

4. Your Muscles Will Grow

Plyo jacks effectively promote muscle gain because they utilize the whole body.

The jumping motion of plyo jacks engages the muscles throughout the body; the lower body works hard to propel up and down, and the arms and abdominal muscles help with balance and stability.

Research shows that plyometric and strength training packs a powerful punch in muscle growth.

But interestingly, plyometrics take the lead when it comes to gains in the lower body, outperforming the hypertrophic effects on lower body muscles compared to the upper body [1].

5. Drawbacks

Jumping in the middle of the air

Plyo jacks can be challenging and require a certain fitness level before attempting to do them.

They are also explosive movements that stress the body, particularly the joints, which can lead to an increased injury risk if not performed correctly.

Make sure to always warm up properly and carefully consider any issues or physical limitations that might increase the risk of injury.


Should You Do Plyo Every Day?

You shouldn’t do plyo every day because it is a high-impact, demanding exercise on the joints. Limiting these workouts to 2-3 times a week allows for recovery in between plyometric exercise sessions.

Does Plyo Build Muscle?

Yes, plyo builds muscle very effectively because plyometrics is a type of resistance training designed to both stretch and contract the muscles, stimulating their development.

Kick the Jumping Jack up a Notch With Plyo Jacks

Incorporating plyo jacks into your workout routine can help build strength, power, and agility while burning calories.

I advise my fitness clients to do it consistently and combine it with a high-quality pre-workout to reap the maximum benefits and improve body composition. We tested dozens of these products to see how they stood up against our uncompromising standards.

Click the links and explore the best pre-workouts that can energize your next jump workout.


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