Looking to add a new exercise into your at-home workouts? Or just sick of plain jump squats? The star jump is the total-body cardio move you'll want to try ASAP.
- What is a star jump? It's a squat variation that involves jumping from a squat into the air while extending your arms and legs away from your body. When done correctly, the top of the movement looks like a star.
- What is the difference between jumping jacks and star jumps? During jumping jacks, your legs stay relatively straight at all times. But with star jumps, you start and end each rep in a squat position with your hips and knees bent.
- What muscles do star jumps target? Star jumps use your entire body, and strengthen the glutes and quads the most. However, star jumps are primarily a cardio exercise.
- Who can do star jumps? Anyone that is free of lower-body injury, mobility problems and can safely perform high-impact exercise.
Ready to get jumping? Here's everything you need to know about star jumps.
How to Do Star Jumps With Perfect Form
Learn how to do star jumps with these step-by-step instructions from New York-based certified personal trainer Carolina Araujo, CPT.
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lower into a squat, bending the knees to roughly 90 degrees and keeping a flat back.
- Drive through your legs to explode up toward the ceiling.
- Spread your legs and arms away from your body to form a star shape in the air. Use your arms for momentum.
- As you hand, bend your hips and knees to immediately lower into the next rep.
How Long Should You Do Star Jumps?
You can do star jumps for reps or time, Araujo says. However, most often in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, you'll do star jumps for a specific period of time.
"The amount of time you should do these for definitely depends on the specific person, but 15 to 20 seconds is a great place to start," she says. "As your endurance and strength improve, you can extend the time to 45 seconds or a minute."
Alternatively, you can increase the intensity of your star jumps by performing them faster or by catching more air with each rep.
However long you do star jumps, prioritize form, Araujo says.
5 Benefits of Star Jumps
1. Improved Cardio
At their core, star jumps are a high-intensity cardio move, which means they're best for building endurance and strengthening cardiopulmonary (heart and lungs) fitness. For example, an April 2015 Sports Medicine meta-analysis found that HIIT improves VO2 max (the max amount of oxygen you can take in and use) more effectively than endurance training does.
2. Total-Body Strength and Power
The exercise is a simple tool for working the entire body. It's particularly beneficial for honing strength and power through the lower lower, Araujo says.
3. A Healthy Body Composition
If weight loss or maintenance is a goal of yours, HIIT (like with star jumps) may also be a more time-efficient strategy than steady-state cardio, according to a February 2018 meta-analysis in Sports Medicine. Meanwhile, the exercise's strength component supports healthy levels of lean muscle mass. she says.
4. Strong Bones
A plyometric exercise, star jumps load the body's spine and legs to reduce the risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis, she says.
All health benefits of star jumps aside, if you're looking for a simple go-anywhere workout, this cardio exercise delivers. All you need is yourself and a few square feet of floor space to get an awesome burn.
4 Star Jump Mistakes to Avoid
Star jumps certainly aren't the easiest exercise out there, which is why you'll want to make the most of the time you spend doing them, Araujo says. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when performing star jumps.
1. Poor Squat Form
The star jump's squat engages your lower body and is your foundation for each jump, she says. Keep an eye out for and address any squat mistakes such as arching your lower back or letting your knees collapse toward each other.
2. Landing With Stiff Legs
"Landing with stiff legs can be problematic for your knees, ankles and lower back," Araujo says. "As you land, fall onto the balls of your feet and lower right back into the squat position."
3. Not Using Your Arms
As you explode up into the air, simultaneously extend your arms. Using your body's vertical momentum will help you jump as high as possible.
4. Relaxing Your Core
Control of your upper body is crucial as you land in the squat position. So, keep your core tight to prevent your chest from hitting your knees.
So, if you struggle with any of these mistakes, read on to modify star jumps to fit your body.
2 Star Jump Modifications
Star jumps are a high-impact exercise that demand a lot of endurance and strength. But if you're not quite ready to rep them out in full form, there are a few modifications you can try.
1. Squat, Stand, Jump
"You can break star jumps down into individual components to make it more manageable," Araujo says. Try performing a bodyweight squat. Then, at the top, jump your arms and legs out into a star shape. Land lightly with your knees slightly bent, pause for a moment and move into the next rep.
2. Squat to Jumping Jack
This modification is pretty simple but takes the high jump out of the exercise. All you have to do is squat and then, when you return to standing, perform a jumping jack.
2 Star Jump Progressions
You can add a challenge to your star jumps by adding time or height. But you can also try these strategies.
1. Add a Tuck Jump
Instead of just jumping into the air at the top of the motion, bring your knees up into your chest, Araujo says.
2. Add a Pulse Squat
Add a pulse to the squat portion of the move. Before you stand and jump, come halfway up and go back to the bottom of the squat. Then, complete the move with a jump.
- Sports Medicine: "Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training for VO2max Improvements: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials"
- Sports Medicine: "Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis"