Jump squats are a high-intensity plyometric exercise that are excellent for building explosive power, conditioning the muscles and joints of the lower body and increasing the height of your vertical jump. Because of their difficulty, jump squats should be performed correctly to prevent injury and get the most out of the exercise. Before performing jump squats, you should familiarize yourself with basic takeoff and landing position, correct jumping technique and the mechanics of creating and absorbing force.

Take the proper stance. Get into a normal standing position, with your body facing forward and feet parallel. Your feet should be directly underneath your shoulders. Now, slide them a couple inches apart and turn your toes slightly outward. From this stance, you’ll have a solid base to take off from and land in. Also, your knees will stay in natural alignment with your toes during the squat portion of the movement, which will alleviate the pressure on your knees.

* Because everyone is built differently, the optimal stance and body positioning for performing a jump squat will also be different for everyone.
* If any part of the movement feels unnatural or causes discomfort, adjust your technique to better suit your individual body type.

Tip: If you plan to do a very deep squat, then make sure that your knees are aligned directly above your ankle or foot. Improper knee alignment can result in a range of injuries when you are doing this exercise, such as a twisted ankle or a torn ligament in your knee.

Lower yourself into the squat. Begin the squat by lowering your hips back and down while bending your knees. Keep your chest upright, with your chin up and head facing forward. Get into as deep a squat as you can while maintaining the correct technique. Your arms can either be down at your sides or held poised out in front of you to assist in balancing at the lowest point of the squat. Take a deep breath as you go down.
* Lower yourself in a smooth, controlled manner during the squat, then explode as forcefully as you can into the jump.
* Your knees should never extend over your toes. This shifts the strain of the squat to your knee joints.

3 Initiate the jump. Once you’ve gone as low as you can, reverse your motion in one quick, explosive movement. Drive hard with your legs as you come up out of the squat. Lift your arms to chest level and keep your torso and head straight and upright. Breathe out sharply as you push through the squat.

Tip: You should think of the jump squat as two distinct movements: the squat and the jump. Your squat should be fluid enough to allow you to transition directly into the jump without any awkward or disjointed missteps.

Jump as high as you can. At the top position of the squat, keep pushing to propel yourself into the jump. The balls of your feet should be the last part of your body in contact with the ground. Take advantage of the strength of your calf muscles to generate extra force as you go airborne. Throw your arms up straight over your head and use the momentum to extend your body and carry you higher.[4]
* Don’t forget to breathe! Inhale as you descend into the squat and exhale as you jump. It’s easy to instinctively hold your breath during tense, demanding exercises like squat jumps, but failure to breathe will exhaust you much faster.
* Keep your legs straight at the highest point of the jump. This will put them in position to land safely.

Control your descent. When you reach the peak of your jump, you’ll need to begin preparing yourself for the landing. Keep your core tight to prevent your body from turning or rotating off its axis in midair. Bring your arms back down from overhead to guide your trajectory as you lower your eyes to spot the ground beneath you. Your legs should be fully extended when you reestablish contact with the ground.
* Stay straight as you’re coming down so that you don’t land off balance.

Touch down with the balls of your feet. Point your toes and allow the balls of your feet to touch first. The calves control extension and flexion of the foot, and will be the first muscle group responsible for slowing your downward movement. Your feet should be in roughly the same position they were in during the takeoff, slightly wider than shoulder width apart with toes turned outward.
* Landing on the whole foot transfers shock up through the bones of the heels, ankles, and knees, which can eventually cause chronic pain, tendinitis, and even stress fractures.
Tip: Always remember to take off from the balls of your feet and land on the balls of your feet.

Bend your knees to absorb impact.Continue lowering your weight after making contact with the balls of your feet. Bend your knees and brace yourself with your legs as you sink to gradually dissipate the force of the landing. Try to land as softly and smoothly as possible. This part of the landing is critical in avoiding injury.
* Conditioning the legs to absorb impact has the added benefit of strengthening the connections between muscles and tendons.

Put yourself in position for the next jump squat. If you’re performing a single jump squat, or if it’s the last one of your set, stand back upright after absorbing the impact of the landing. If you’re doing multiple, continuous jump squats, use the knee bend as a lead-in to the next jump squat. Keep your arms in movement to stabilize yourself and increase the height of each jump.
* Jump squats are used to train maximal power output, which means they can be extremely taxing. It’s best not perform more than about 10-15 jump squats per set.
* When you begin to get tired, your technique suffers, which can lead to accidents. At best, you’ll keep yourself from getting the most out of the exercise. At worst, you could hurt yourself.

Do faster sets. Speed up the tempo of your sets for more of a metabolic effect. This will make each set much more difficult, so be careful not to overdo it. Do 10-15 jump squats, then take a short rest and perform another set. Alternately, try super setting (performing two different exercises back-to-back with little or no rest) jump squats with other exercises like push ups, pull ups, crunches or lunges.
* Don’t get sloppy or let your technique break down when increasing the speed of your jumps squats.

Tip: Minimize the time you spend in contact with the ground by moving quickly into the next jump. This type of training will make you more explosive and reactive.

Tuck your knees. For a tougher variation of the standard jump squat, do tuck jumps. Instead of jumping straight up with legs extended, pull your knees up and tuck them into your chest at the top of the jump. The extra movement required for each jump will make them more tiring, letting you get more out of the exercise.
* Try to tuck tight enough to touch your chest with the tops of your thighs.
* Tucking will change the rhythm of the movement. Make sure you untuck with enough time to prepare for the landing.

Add a little weight. Hold two small dumbbells in each hand for added resistance. Select dumbbells that are light enough to allow you to land safely to avoid placing undue stress on the knees. Adding weight is advantageous for those wishing to build strength while improving their cardiovascular conditioning.
* Resistance should be kept low. Using too much weight can be hard on your joints and increase your risk of injury.
* Performing weighted squat jumps with a barbell requires impeccable technique and balance, and should only be attempted by advanced lifters.
Jump onto a box. Turn your jump squat into a modified box jump. Set up a box or elevated platform of an appropriate height (this will depend largely on your individual level of strength and fitness) and place it about a foot in front of you. Calculate the jump portion of the jump squat so that you land on top of the box instead of simply touching back down in place. Make sure to bend your knees and land on the balls of your feet when you land on the box.

Tip: Box jumps are superb for training bodily and spatial awareness, as they force your takeoff, landing and trajectory to be more precise.

Get mobile with frog jumps. Rather than performing jump squats in place, do them while traveling forward. These are commonly known as “frog jumps.” Shorten the movement by not dropping quite as low into the squat and leaping for distance in addition to height. Frog jumps will improve the dynamic strength of your squat while strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. And since you’ll be hopping all around, they also feel more like play than work.
* Take the same cues as the standard jump squat when landing frog jumps, keeping your body upright, touching down with the balls of your feet and sinking at the knees to absorb impact.
* Add light resistance or give yourself a certain time or distance to meet for more of a challenge.

Do squat jacks for endurance. Squat jacks are a conditioning exercise that combine the intensity of squat jumps with the coordination of the classic jumping jack. Get into low squat position with your feet side by side. Place both hands behind your head or hold them crossed in front of your body. As you jump, spread your legs out wide, then bring them back together as you land the next jump. Stay deep in the squat throughout the whole movement and try not to let yourself come up. These are sure to get your legs burning!
* Do as many squat jacks as you can at the end of your workout for a ruthless all-out finisher. Movements like this are low-impact, meaning they can safely be performed to failure.
* Try not to let your knees cave inward when you land. Keeping your toes turned out can help with this.



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