A squat jump is an exercise that involves squatting down and then powerfully jumping into the air. The exercise is performed by setting feet about shoulder width apart, squatting until the tops of the thighs are parallel with the ground, and then jumping up as hard as possible. A squat jumper’s legs should straighten and the feet should clear the floor by at least several inches. The arms should not overly aid in the exercise, which is meant to work the lower extremities of the body. Arms may be used, however, to gain height on the jump.
Squat jumps are most effective when the back remains straight and knees are kept apart at all times during the jump. Failure to do so lessens the benefits of the jump and may cause injury. Squat jumpers also must take care to bend the legs upon landing. Landing hard with straightened legs causes shock to the knees. Bending one’s legs helps the body absorb the landing’s shock and prevent injury.
A squat jump may be modified in several ways depending on the jumper’s fitness level and goals for the exercise. Hands are often kept behind the head with fingers interlocked, but arms also may be bent at a 90-degree angle and thrown into the air during the jump to gain height. Some squat jumpers prefer to hold the squat for several seconds before jumping, while others perform the exercise in a fluid motion. Some exercisers prefer a rapid succession of jumps, while others prefer to pause and reset the body between each jump.
Squat jumps primarily target the gluteal muscles, located in the buttocks and known as glutes, and quadriceps femoris, a thigh muscle group also known as quads. The glutes are worked during the squat part of the exercise, and the quads come into play during the jump. Squat jump novices may experience soreness in these muscles the day after doing the exercise. Experienced squat jumpers sometimes avoid soreness, but may feel it after a particularly strenuous round.
A squat jump is considered a foundation exercise because it is a basic move upon which a fitness routine can be built. Exercisers may use squat jumps in several ways. It can be a warm-up activity to prepare for other exercises or a core building exercise to specifically work the buttocks and legs. It also may be part of an exercise circuit that works out several muscle groups. Squat jumps usually are performed in sets of several repetitions each, though the amount of jumps done depends on a person’s fitness level and how the squats are incorporated in an exercise routine.