The Jumping Jack is one of those basic bodyweight gym class moves that many of us forget about in search of the new best thing to help us burn fat and get our sweat on at home.
We skip the Jumping Jack in favor of soul crushing Burpees or Squat Jumps or some other move we feel like is more likely to make us feel gnarly and want to barf.
But Jumping Jacks can be a great move to include in our workout routines, even simply as active rest. Plus there are a ton of fun Jumping Jack Variations you can do if you are bored with the basic gym class variation!
Below are 15 Jumping Jack Variations as well as a regression for anyone who needs a lower impact move.
15 Jumping Jack Variations
Basic Jumping Jack – The Basic Jumping Jack can be an exercise that is both used to get your heart rate up and used as active rest to allow your heart rate to come down while still moving.
It is a great full body move and one that moves your body in a different plane of motion. So often when we do cardio, or use cardio machines, we only move forward or maybe even backward (aka we are moving only in the sagittal plane).
That is why cardio exercises like the Jumping Jack are so great to include. They make us move in the frontal plane of motion to strengthen our body from a different direction as we get our sweat on.
The lateral movement of the Jumping Jack can help strengthen your hips and glutes while working your core and upper body as you get your blood pumping.
To do the Basic Jumping Jack, start standing nice and tall with your feet together and arms down by your sides.
You will then jump both your feet out to the sides so that your feet are shoulder-width apart or wider. As you jump your feet out wide, raise your arms up to the sides and overhead.
Then bring your arms back down to your sides as you jump your feet back in together.
Repeat, jumping your feet out wide as you raise your arms out to the sides and overhead.
You can move quickly to get your blood pumping or even slow it down a bit if you are using for an active recovery move.
Beginners or anyone with knee pain, may need to regress the move to the Step Jack below.
Step Jack – If you have knee pain or simply need to regress the Basic Jumping Jack, you can turn it into a stepping instead of a jumping exercise.
This is a great way to take the impact out of the move. It can also make it easier if you are just starting out and don’t yet have the cardiovascular capacity to handle the Basic Jumping Jack or want to use this move as active recovery.
To do the Step Jack, start standing up nice and tall with your arms by your sides. Then step your right foot out to the side and touch your toe out wide. As you step one leg out to the side, reach your arms out to the sides and up overhead.
Then step your foot back in and bring your hands back down to your sides. Step your left leg out to the side and swing your arms back out to the sides and overhead.
Step your left foot back in and step out again with the right. Keep alternating stepping out to each side as you raise both arms up overhead. Move quickly to make the move more challenging.
You can also speed up the pace by performing a step out to each side during one arm swing. For instance, you would step out to the right as you raise your arms out to the sides and overhead.
Then you would step back in and out to the left as you bring your arms back down to your sides. As you raise your arms back overhead, you would step your left back in and your right leg out to the side and repeat.
Both are lower impact variations you can use to still get your blood pumping!
Press Jack – A great variation of the Basic Jumping Jack if you want to work your shoulders more is the Press Jack.
This Jumping Jack Variation also forces your lower body to move in the frontal plane as your upper body moves in the sagittal plane, which is great to get your body moving in more than one plane of motion.
While you can do this Jumping Jack without weight, it can be made more challenging by holding a weight, med ball or even simply a soccer ball in both hands.
To do the Press Jack, hold a weight or ball in both hands up at your chest as you stand nice and tall with your feet together.
Then jump your feet out to the side shoulder-width apart or wider as you press the ball or weight overhead. Press your arms straight up toward the ceiling.
Then jump your feet back together and bring the weight/ball back down to your chest.
Repeat, moving quickly to jump back out as you press the weight back overhead.
You don’t need a heavy weight to make this challenging especially if adding a heavier weight will only slow you down. Use a weight you can still move quickly with that will challenge your shoulders.
Squat Jack – If you you’re bored with the basic Squat Jump but want to really get those legs burning and your heart rate up, you should try the Squat Jack. This is a great Jumping Jack Variation to toast the legs and butt.
Plus there are two slightly different ways you can do the Squat Jack to keep things interesting while working your legs.
Squat Jack Variation #1 – Chair Pose to Sumo Squat:
To do this Squat Jack Variation, start standing with your feet together. Keeping your feet together, sink down into a little squat as you reach your hands up overhead. Make sure to sit your butt back so that you aren’t coming forward onto your toes. This position should look like Chair Pose.
Staying low in the squat to make your legs work, jump your feet out wide, at least shoulder-width apart or wider. As you jump your feet out, bring your hands down and in between your legs to reach for the ground. You can try to touch your hands to the ground as you keep your butt down in the squat and chest up. But don’t worry so much about touching your hands to the ground if that means you round or hunch over.
In this wide squat, try to get even lower than you were in the squat with your feet together.
Then jump your feet back together and bring your hands back overhead.
Do not stand up out of the squat during the movement. If you stay low in the squat and move quickly, your legs will have to work harder. Only beginners may want to stand up out of the movement.
If you do need to stand up out of the movement, treat the Chair Pose as a time to stand up a bit out of it and then sink down into the squat as you jump your feet out wide.
You can even slow this move down and spend more time in the low squats if you aren’t as concerned with getting your cardio on but instead want to make your legs really work!
Squat Jack Variation #2 – Low Jack
This Squat Jack Variation is basically the opposite of the Chair Pose to Sumo Squat.
It is basically the same movement as the Basic Jumping Jack except you are holding a squat the entire time, which is why this variation is called the Low Jack.
To do the Low Jack, start standing with your feet together and your arms down by your sides. Then sink into a little squat, pushing your butt back.
Staying low in this squat position, jump your feet out wide as you raise your arms out to the sides and overhead. Then jump your feet back in and bring your arms back down to your sides. Stay low as you jump back in.
Beginners may not be able to stay as low. Get lower to make the move harder and move more quickly.
Beginners can also do a Step Jack Variation of this move by simply squatting lower with the basic Step Jack.
Split Squat Jacks – Another great Jumping Jack Variation to work your legs and butt is the Split Squat Jacks. Plus this move will test your coordination a bit as you lunge from side to side while raising your arms up overhead.
To do the Split Squat Jack, start by stepping one foot back and sinking into a lunge with your arms down by your sides. Then jump up off the ground and, as you do, switch to land in a lunge on the other side.
As you jump and switch to a lunge on the other side, swing your arms out to the side and overhead. When you land in the lunge on the other side, your arms should be up overhead.
Quickly land and then jump right back up and again switch to a lunge on the first side as you lower your arms back down by your sides.
Try to jump from lunge to lunge quickly. Beginners may not be able to sink as low in the lunge or move as quickly. They may also want to perform more of a “skip” to switch from lunge to lunge instead of completely jumping up off the ground.
Plyo Jack – While Jumping Jacks can be a great exercise to include when you do longer cardio intervals or as active rest, they can also be used as a power exercise for shorter, quicker bursts. To make the Jumping Jack a great power, explosive movement, try the Plyo Jack Variation.
This is a great explosive move to work your legs and glutes.
To do the Plyo Jack, start standing tall with your feet together and your arms down by your sides. Then just slightly squat, pushing your butt back, to load your glutes so you can explode up off the ground.
You will then perform the same movement as with the Basic Jumping Jack, but instead of jumping your feet out wide on the ground, you will want to explode up off the ground as you jump your feet out wide.
As you jump up off the ground, raising your legs up to the sides as you jump, you will swing your arms out to the sides and up overhead. To land, bring your feet back together and sink back into a little squat.
You want to squat a little as you land to help load your legs for the next jump while also landing softly to protect your knees. Bring your arms back down to your sides as you land and then repeat, jumping back up.
The bigger your jump and the quicker you do the reps back to back, the harder this move will be. To make the move a little easier, pause between jumps.
Crossover Jacks – If you want to have a little fun and test your coordination, the Cross-Over Jack is a great move to include. It it reminiscent of playground games such as double dutch and hopscotch.
It is also not only a great bodyweight cardio move, but can be a great move to include in your warm up to wake up your body and mind. If you don’t have room to do locomotion or need to get your body loose quick in a small space, you may want to try including the Crossover Jack in your warm up routine.
To do Crossover Jacks, start standing with your feet together and your arms out in front of you at about shoulder height. Then jump your feet out wide to about shoulder-width or wider. As you jump your feet out, swing your arms out to the side at about shoulder height.
Then, when you jump your feet back in, cross one in front of the other. When you jump back in, cross your right leg in front of your left as you swing your arms back in front and cross your right arm on top of your left.
Jump back out wide and open your arms out to the sides. Keep your arms up at about shoulder height. Then when you jump back in, cross your left leg in front of your right and cross your left arm over your right arm.
Jump back out and repeat, crossing your right side back in front. Keep alternating crosses until all reps are complete.
Beginners can modify this by stepping instead of jumping.
Skier Jack – A great sagittal plane Jumping Jack Variation, the Skier Jack is also a great contralateral movement you can include in your cardio workout routine.
The Skier Jack forces your opposite arm and leg to work together to help you move quickly and get your blood pumping.
To do the Skier Jack, start standing with your feet together and your arms down by your sides. Then jump one foot forward and the other foot back as you swing the opposite arm up and forward and the other hand back and down toward the ground.
Switch your split stance and jump the other foot forward as you swing your arms to bring the other arm up and forward.
Keep alternating sides, swinging your arms so that your opposite arm and leg are always forward and backward together.
These aren’t lunges, just simply jumping one foot back and the other forward into a split stance. Swing your arms to help you move more quickly.
Seal Jacks – The Seal Jack is a great Jumping Jack Variation to work your arms in a different way as you perform the basic jack movement. You can even use Seal Jacks to wake up your upper back if you really concentrate on using your back to open your arms out to the sides instead of simply swinging your arms out.
To do Seal Jacks, start standing with your feet together and your arms together out in front of you at shoulder height. Place your palms together.
Then jump your feet out wide and open your arms out to the side at shoulder height. Feel your back working to pull your arms open.
Quickly jump your feet back in and bring your palms back together. Keep your arms at about shoulder height
Repeat, jumping your feet back out as you open your arms out to the side. Move as quickly as possible.
Beginners may need to perform a step variation of this move.
Jump Rope Jack – Mix up the Jumping Jack and the Jump Rope by performing the Jump Rope Jack! This is a great move to test your coordination and work your legs and shoulders.
If you struggle to perform the basic Jump Rope movement, this may not be the Jumping Jack Variation for you. You can instead do this with a “fake” jump rope if you struggle to string together jumps with a real rope.
To do the Jump Rope Jack, begin by jumping rope with your feet together. Then as you jump rope, jump your feet out wide then back in. Keep hopping over the rope alternating jumps with your feet together and then your feet wide.
If you struggle to string jumps together, perform the same movement with a “fake” jump rope aka simply move your arms as if spinning a jump rope without the actual rope.
Oblique Jacks – These are a great cardio-core exercise, but not necessarily one you want to do in the middle of a crowded gym when you are alone as they can look pretty silly. Oblique Jacks are a great way to get your blood pumping as you work your obliques.
To do Oblique Jacks, start standing tall and place your hands either behind your head or up just to the sides of your head. Bend your right knee up and out to the side as you crunch your upper body to the side, dropping your right elbow toward your right knee.
Then jump and switch, bending your left knee up and out to the side as you crunch your left elbow down toward your left knee.
Quickly jump and switch to the other side. Go back and forth between the sides as quickly as you can, crunching your elbow down to your knee as you raise your knee up as high as you can.
Jack Burpee – If you thought Jumping Jacks weren’t good enough cardio for you, then you haven’t tried the Jack Burpee. This move combines a Burpee with a Plyo Jack and a Plank Jack.
To do the Jack Burpee, start standing with your feet together. Then bend over and place your hands on the ground as you jump your feet back into a high plank position with your feet together.
From that high plank position with your feet together, jump your feet out wide. Do not let your butt go up in the air as you jump your feet out. Jump your feet back together then jump your feet into your hands and come up back up to standing.
As you lift your hands and come back to standing, perform either a basic Jumping Jack or a Plyo Jumping Jack. If you do the Plyo Jack, you will jump up off the ground as you spread your legs wide and swing your arms up to the side and overhead.
To regress the movement, step back into a plank position instead of jumping back. You can also step your feet out to the side and back in when doing the Plank Jack.
And at the top, perform a Basic Jumping Jack or even no Jack at all. The quicker you do the movement and the bigger and higher your Plyo Jack is at the top, the harder the move will be.
Plank Jack – If you want to work your entire core, the Plank Jack is a great Jumping Jack Variation to include. It will work your shoulders, abs, glutes and legs while getting your blood pumping.
To do Plank Jacks, start in the high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your feet together. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Brace your abs then jump your feet out wide to each side so they are about shoulder-width apart. Then quickly jump them back in together. Repeat, jumping them back out.
Keep your core engaged as you jump your feet in and out and do not let your butt go up in the air. Also, do not let your hips sag or your hands creep out in front of your shoulders.
Beginners may need to start with a step variation, stepping one foot out to the side at a time.
Push Up Jack – The Push Up Jack is a combination of a Push Up and the Plank Jack and is a great way to make both moves more challenging. It is also a great explosive movement to work your chest, shoulders and triceps as well as your core.
And this move is a double whammy for your upper body because it combines both a close grip and a wide grip Push Up. It is a more advanced move so make sure your basic Push Up form is correct before attempting it.
To do the Push Up Jack, start in a high plank position with your hands close together and your feet close together. Perform a Push Up, dropping your chest down as close to the ground as you can. Keep your body in a nice straight line and your abs engaged. Press back up to the top of the Push Up, keeping your elbows from flaring way up by your shoulders.
As you press back up to the top of the Push Up, explode up off the ground and jump your feet and hands out to wider than shoulder width. Sink back down into a wide Push Up, dropping your chest as close to the ground as possible. Keep your body in a nice straight line as you lower.
Explode back up out of the Push Up and jump your feet and hands back in. Keep your core tight and your body in a nice straight line as you perform the Push Ups and jump from one to the other.
Repeat the move, doing a Push Up before jumping your feet and hands back out wide.
Jack Sit Ups – Work your abs with this fun Sit Up Jumping Jack Variation. This is a great move to toast the entire frontside of your core.
To do the Jack Sit Up, start seated on the ground. Then draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around your shins as you lean back and lift your feet off the ground so you are balanced on your butt.
Then relax open, opening your arms out wide overhead as you straighten your legs out wide. Try to open your legs out wide closer to the ground. The higher up your legs stay, the easier the move will be. You should look like a big X on the ground with arms and legs out and open.
Then sit back up, crunching everything back in so that you are balanced on your butt with your arms hugging your shins. Try to keep your feet off the ground the entire time.
Below are a few bonus Jumping Jack Variations that use a bit more equipment (and not necessarily equipment you’ll find at the traditional gym). These are great moves to work your entire body while getting your blood pumping.
Battle Rope Jacks – Battle Rope Jacks are a great full-body cardio exercise that work the upper body even more than the Basic Jumping Jack.
To do Battle Rope Jacks, hold a handle of the rope in each hand. Hang your arms down by your sides as you stand tall with your feet together. Then jump your feet out wide as you raise your arms and the ropes out to the side and up overhead.
Jump your feet back in and slam the ropes into the ground as you bring your arms back down to your sides. Repeat, quickly jumping your feet back out as you bring the ropes back overhead.
Beginners can do a Step Jack Variation.
Slider Jack – Slider Jacks are a great Plank Jack Variation that really work your glutes and adductors as well as your entire core. Because you have sliders (Gliders, Valslides or Towels) under your feet, your glutes and abductors have to work to slide your legs open and then pull them back closed.
To do Slider Jacks, place a slider under each foot and set up in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your feet together. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Then, keeping your core tight, slide your feet open to about shoulder-width apart or wider. Do not let your hips sag or your butt go up in the air as you slide your legs open.
Once your feet are wide apart, quickly pull your legs back together, sliding your feet on the sliders.
Repeat, sliding your legs open and then back closed. Try to keep your core tight and your hips still. Really open and close your legs using your glutes and abductors and adductors.
Slide Board Jack – The Slide Board Jack is a variation of the Slider Jack, except instead of using sliders, you slide open and closed on the Slide Board. It is just a fun way to mix up the Plank Jack, especially if you are using the Slide Board as part of your workout!
Using all of these Jumping Jack Variations, you can get in a great full-body cardio workout no matter where you are!