Jul27Try These 10 Variations of This Underrated Conditioning Exercise

Conditioning is like the laundry; you know you need to do it, but you just brush it off, until the day comes were the clothes are overflowing your hamper, turning your bedroom into a sea of dirty garments. Ugh, what a pain. Well, time to get to work, huh?

All jokes aside, conditioning/cardio is something that most of us need to work on more, and it doesn’t have to be a pain and it doesn’t have to be boring. Actually, we can have a really effective conditioning workout with a simple exercise that you’ve done as a kid. Can you guess what it is?

Reintroducing: The Jumping Jack

Do you remember doing jumping jacks in gym class? Maybe you don’t want to (let’s forget those awkward middle school years). Little did you know, you were performing one of the best conditioning exercises you can do!

I’m willing to bet that doing 50 vigorous jumping jacks right now will break a sweat, get your heart pumping, and lungs burning. And a big benefit of this so called “easy” movement is that you can perform it anywhere, anytime. You don’t need any equipment, and it doesn’t require much coordination either. It’s also much easier on the joints than most conditioning exercises, which is a life saver for people with bad knees, hips, and backs.

With that said, there are some more interesting variations out there that you probably haven’t heard of that can be just as effective, or even more so. While the regular jumping jack is great in it’s own right, these other variations will challenge and test weak links in your body. In this post, we are going to cover 10 jumping jack variations that you need to try in your next conditioning workout, or as a finisher to your dedicated strength workouts.

Want to see the short version, visually? watch the video below. If you want to read it, continue to the rest of the post below.

#1 Tap Jack

This variation is slightly different from a regular jack; instead of jumping, you step one leg out to the side, and lightly “tap” the floor. Much easier on the joints, so try this one out if you’re of the lower impact variety.

#2 Seal Jack

Named after Navy Seals? Or maybe just regular seals? In either case, the seal jack is just like the traditional version, but this time you start the arms straight out in front of you, and each time you jump the legs open you spread the arms open as well. This is great for opening up the chest and shoulders, and is easier on the shoulders because we aren’t moving overhead.

#3 X – Jack

This variation looks exactly how it sounds: making an “X” shape with the body. Starting from a standing position, simply initiate the movement like you would a regular jumping jack, but this time move the arms in front of you, instead of straight to the side. Your raise your arms and jump your legs to the side, making an “X” shape with the body. This one is good for getting the shoulders moving through a different range of motion.

#4 Predator Jack

Remember the alien from Predator? He must’ve had some good conditioning. This move is similar to the seal jack, but each time you jump out, you sink into a wide squat. Great for strengthening up those legs!

#5 Pull Apart Jack

Just like the seal jack, but now adding a band to the mix. Each time you separate the hands, you’re pulling a band apart. Great for getting a little more upper back work involved, something that we all need to give a bit more attention to.

#6 X Jack With Band

Now we are getting a bit more advanced; if you want to make the X jack harder, grab a band, twist it in the center, and take a good grip. Perform the same movement, but now with the added resistance of a band. Just make sure the band is firmly placed under the foot, as we wouldn’t want it slipping off and hitting something important.

#7 Plank Jack

Start in a plank position, and focus on keeping stability in the hips. Jump the legs out, and back in. The key is to not let the hips shake around, which gives the core a little wake-up call.

#8 Skier Jack

This one involves moving the arms and legs forward and backward, instead of side-to-side. It gets your body moving in a different direction, which is something it could probably use. Make sure you’re moving the opposite side limbs in unison, as that will feel the most natural.

#9 Jack With Press

If your shoulders are up to it, you could do a jumping jack with an overhead press tossed in the mix. Great for developing a bit more power (as each time you jump, you get more drive in the press) and athleticism. How to do it: As you jump the legs out, press a dumbbell, medball, or other lightly weighted item overhead. Take care not to hit the chin, so make sure the weight clears the head each rep.

#10 Plyo X Jacks

Probably the hardest variation on this list is the plyometric “x” jack. Just like a regular “x” jack, but this time bend the knees slightly, and explode up into a big jump. Spread the arms and legs to create a big human X in the middle of the air, and quickly catch yourself and land softly with the feet. Only recommended if you don’t have any knee issues and can handle the other variations on this list with ease.

 

How To Program It

Now you know the variations. But how do you put it in a workout? To make it simple, grab 3-4 of the variations above, and mingle them together with some core exercises for a quick and dirty core and conditioning workout.

Example:

  1. Seal jack x 20
  2. Russian twists x 15 each side
  3. Skier jacks x 15 each side
  4. Side plank with reach and tuck x 12 each side
  5. Predator jacks x 10
  6. V-ups x 10

Likewise, if you’re doing a strength training session, you could add a few of these movements at the end for a quick conditioning finisher. In either case, adding in this underrated but effective exercise into your routine may be just the thing you need to refresh your workouts! Try them out, and you’ll be guaranteed to sweat.