The jump squat is a great lower body exercise for developing powerful legs. As a body-weight exercise or with weights, they are perfect for sports training or any other activity that needs explosive leg movement.
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This is how to do a basic jump squat with just your body-weight. As well as developing explosive leg strength, it's an excellent plyometric exercise for increasing explosive muscle contraction in the legs.
Repeat as needed.
The first few times you do this, go slowly, and you should pause to stabilize yourself between squats. But after you get the hang of it, just keep going.
A weighted jump squat is just a harder version of the regular ones. If you want the plyometric benefits do them un-weighted, but if you just want more strength then add weights.
You can use a barbell held behind the shoulders like regular squats; hold dumbbells in each hand; wear a weight vest; or even hold on to a kettlebell. These are a great alternative for athletes who can't do Olympic lifts for leg strength.
Be especially careful to start slowly and make sure you absorb the impact well when you land. It's easy to hurt your knees by landing and not absorbing the impact.
Do this exercise with less weight than you would use for a normal squat. In Functional Training for Sports there's a handy equation for how much weight you should use for your squats. It's...
[(bodyweight + squat) x 0.4] - bodyweight = appropriate weight
This is the conservative end of the spectrum for weight, since you have to squat a lot to make that equation give you a non-negative number.
I personally use a rule of thumb that 15-20% of what I'm regularly squatting should be the weight that I do jump squats with.
I also listen to my body carefully. If I can't do it with good form, or if it hurts me, then I'll switch to less weight or none at all.
These puppies are perfect for building explosive leg strength. If you want a higher vertical jump or more power as you push off the starting blocks, work these into a weight training routine for really fantastic results.
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