You’ll feel the burn in your booty.
Online dating, eating vegetables, squat jumps—they’re called “necessary evils” for a reason. Adding some air to a squat makes an otherwise tolerable move just plain exhausting—but it also helps rev your heart and build your backside all at once. New York-based trainer Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S., founding instructor at MIRROR, loves this squat variation for that one key reason: “Squat jump lights up your legs, glutes, and lungs all in one go!” It hurts—but it also works.
How To Do A Squat Jump
How to: Stand with your feet just outside shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Squat down with your weight in your heels, proud chest, knees tracking over toes, and a neutral spine. When you hit the bottom of your squat, squeeze your butt tight and drive hard through your legs and heels as you launch straight up, pelvis forward, pushing off your toes at the last moment of contact with the floor. Land softly, then use the momentum from landing to go right into your next squat. That’s one rep.
Reps/Sets: If you’re training for speed and power, keep the reps and sets low (three to four sets of five or less reps, aiming for maximum height on each jump). For general conditioning as part of a bigger workout, aim for time (15, 30, even 45 seconds of squat jumps) paired with other bodyweight, cardio, or strength-based movements.
One factor in how many reps you should aim for: Your last squat jump should be just as tight as your first. Ryan says if your form starts to falter, that’s a good sign you’ve hit your max and it’s time to move on to another exercise.
Change up the challenge: The key factor in making squat jumps easier or harder is changing the depth of your squat. “Deeper squats recruit more muscles, but shallow or quarter-squat depth allows for more athletic explosiveness and more efficient jumping,” Ryan says. For low reps, go deep, but if you’re aiming for AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in 30 seconds, stick to shallower squats for more lift off.
The Benefits Of Squat Jumps
The squat jump has two main perks: “It’s efficient at making your glutes, legs, and lungs burn after just a few reps,” says Ryan. Plus, the move ” incorporates pure leg power into a conditioning move with just your bodyweight.”
Make Squat Jumps Part Of Your Workout
Since it’s a plyometric move and taxing on your system, stick to doing sets of squat jumps just once or twice a week, Ryan says.
It’s super-easy to mix the move into any HIIT routine for both strength and conditioning work—try it alongside other bodyweight exercises like hill sprints, split jumps, and pushups for an easy at-home workout, Ryan suggests. Or try cranking out some squat jumps in between sets of heavy lower body weighted movements, like sumo squats.