Star Jumps: How to Do Them and What Muscles Work

An exercise called “star jumps” doesn’t sound particularly scary, but don’t let that fool you.

This plyometric move is essentially a jack-up, a more intense jumping jack.

Read on to learn how to do it, how to modify it to fit your fitness level, and why it may soon become a rising star in your workout routine.

How to Star Jump with Perfect Form

Star Jump Demo |  Star jumps

  • Start in a quarter squat position with your back flat, feet together and palms touching the sides of your lower legs.
  • Jump up, raising your arms and legs to your sides (your body should form an “X” in mid-air).
  • Land softly with your feet together and immediately lower yourself back to the starting position.

How to make Star Jump easier

If your legs are screaming after just a few repetitions of this move, you can modify it to build the strength and endurance it needs.

Start by jumping away. Place one foot on the ground and raise the other to your side as you swing your arms above your head (alternate legs with each rep).

Once it gets easier, you can go back to jumping with both feet, working your way up from a short hop.

“Also remember that, like all plyometric exercises, star jumps are a high-impact move, so don’t do them if you have joint problems or if you’re overweight,” says Trevor Thimay, CSCS, senior director of fitness and nutrition at Beachbody Content.

How to make star jump harder

Want to turn the difficulty up a few notches and really get a cardio burn? We got you!

“One way to make the star jump more challenging is to add a 180-degree turn when you jump, so you land facing the opposite way,” says Thieme.

You can increase the intensity by holding a pair of very light dumbbells or wearing a weight vest.

Just remember that adding weight to plyometric moves like star jumps can put more stress on your joints, so check with your doctor first.

Bonus tip for star jumping

As we mentioned before, star jump is high impact.

And while sprinkling high impact moves into your training plan can prove beneficial in many ways, it can also be taxing on your joints.

The key to reducing your risk of injury: “Land softly with your knees slightly bent, absorbing the impact with your feet as you begin to immediately set up for your next rep,” Thieme says.

Advantages of Star Jump

The star jump is a plyometric move, meaning it requires you to lift your body off the ground.

Plyometrics, also known as plio or jump training, has long been used to improve performance in countless sports — but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to try it or benefit from it.

Research shows that regularly incorporating plyo exercises into your training can improve

  • Muscle activation
  • Improve neuromuscular coordination
  • explosive power

Target muscles by star jump

You may feel it most in your legs, but star jumps are a full-body exercise, working multiple muscle groups from head to toe, Thieme says. Here are its primary goals

Quadriceps

Quadriceps muscle  star jump

Your quadriceps are a large muscle group located on the front of each thigh.

It is composed of four heads: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius.

Together, they work to extend your knees, help you walk, stand up from a sitting position, and do anything else that requires you to straighten your legs.

Gluteal muscles

Anatomy of gluteal muscles  star jump

Your glutes are a group of three muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) that make up your butt.

Their primary function is to extend your hips, which makes them crucial for walking, running, and jumping.

Hamstrings

Hamstrings Muscle Anatomy |  star jump

Your hamstrings are a group of three muscles (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris) that run down the back of each of your legs.

Together, they help bend your knees and extend your hips. Because they act on two joints, they are known as “biarticular” muscles.

the calf

Calf Muscle Anatomy |  star jump

Your calves – located at the back of your lower leg – are made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

They pull your heel up for forward or vertical movement (eg, walking, running, jumping).

Deltoids

Shoulder head deltoid  star jump

Your deltoids, or delts, are the round, triangular muscles that cover the tops of your shoulders.

Each consists of three heads (anterior, lateral, and posterior) that help you lift your arms in all directions, including from your side and above your head during the star jump.

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