Bodyweight jump squats have experienced quite a surge in popularity in recent years with the rise of explosive leg workouts in bootcamp-style and cross training fitness programs. However, they have long been used to help athletes develop and improve their maximum explosive power, so they’re really nothing new. That said, check out the tips below to benefit from bodyweight jump squats and explosive leg workouts in general.
There are several ways to do explosive leg workouts. Some coaches would say dynamic effort barbell squats are best, while others would have you do various plyometric and bounding drills. However, the bodyweight jump squat really trumps them all.
First of all, most lifters who do explosive leg workouts are want to be able to move their body more quickly and easily for the sake of being more athletic. Bodyweight jump squats are perfect for this as you’re literally not just moving your body around, but trying to be as fast and explosive with it as possible.
But maybe more importantly, bodyweight jump squats are really an exercise that you can’t get wrong. Squat down, squat back up as fast as you can and jump as high as you can. That’s all there is to it. No special technique or pre-loading the muscle or anything else like that is needed.
There are two main applications for explosive leg workouts. The first is how you probably see jumps done most often these days, and that’s for cardio and conditioning. Because you have to exert quite a bit of force to jump any appreciable height off the ground, jump squats can turn into a real lung-burner.
In this instance, you don’t want your jump to at all be maximal. Rather, 50-75% of your max jump height is a good idea. So if you can jump 24 inches off the ground, then jumping 12-18 inches high for reps should be your goal.
You’re dialing back the intensity because what you’re lacking in height, you’re making up for in total volume and reduced rest. Your goal here is to do as much work as you can in as short of a time period as you can. This means submaximal jumps done quickly are in order. Be sure to keep form on point, but minimize any rest between reps. Ideally, as you land from one jump, you’d immediately descend into your next one, making your reps as seamless as possible.
Sets and reps will vary, as it’ll depend on what the rest of your workout (and program) looks like. If your jumps are being done as a standalone exercise, then 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps (going as high as 15+) would work well. If circuited with other exercises such as push ups, burpees, or mountain climbers, then you can back the reps down to 8-10.
The other reason to do explosive leg workouts is to develop maximal lower body power. In this instance, you’re going to trade the volume and reduced rest breaks for maximum intensity. This means sets of no more than 5 reps are in order and you want to jump as high as you can every single time. Your sets can vary depending on your program layout, but 3-5 should suffice.
Because you’re working so intensely, you’ll want to give your nervous system adequate rest. Don’t be afraid to take 2-5 minutes between sets so as to be fully recuperated and to let your CNS recharge. It can also be a good idea instead of doing one rep immediately after another, to stop and reset after each rep. Jumping for power can also be done either in straight sets or with a set of jumps done immediately after a set of heavy squats so as to maximize CNS activation.
Bodyweight jump squats are perfect for explosive leg workouts because they’re highly versatile, super easy to learn, and can be done by pretty much anyone. Be sure to use proper form as demonstrated in the video, and keep your volume/intensity in check based on your goals, and you’ll find they add all new levels of fun to your workouts.