Jump squats are an excellent movement for improving overall explosive power, increasing your vertical jump, helping you sprint fast, adding muscle mass to your lower body, and much more!
A lot of people think that jump squats are only a necessary exercise for people who are training for sports. However, that is definitely not true. As a professional basketball player, I certainly have a specific reason for doing jump squats more often than other people, but that doesn’t mean I am the only type of person who they are useful for.
Jump squats are a great exercise for improving your conditioning and helping you build lean muscle mass on your lower body, while also helping you gain stronger and more functional legs.
If you want to check out a few of my favorite jump squat variations and learn some additional information about jump squats, check out this video:
Keep reading below to learn more about the benefits of jump squats and how to use jump squats in your workout routine the right way!
Benefits of the Jump Squat Exercise
Here are a few of the main benefits you can get from doing jump squats regularly:
Increase Explosive Power
For starters, jump squats are one of the best exercises for increasing explosive power. Having powerful legs isn’t just good for professional athletes though, it’s great for anyone working out consistently. Powerful legs help you to back squat or deadlift more weight as well, amongst other things.
If you want to hit new personal records on those major lifts, adding some jump squats to your routine is a great way to give yourself a boost and help you break through any weight lifting plateau!
Builds Lower Body Muscle Mass
Jump squats aren’t generally thought of as a muscle building exercise because they you usually don’t do “high rep” jump squats, where hypertrophy generally occurs, and they also don’t have a specific eccentric phase, which is where a lot of the muscle building process occurs. However, jump squats are great for building muscle throughout your lower body!
Jump squats can still help you with lower body muscle building because when you forcefully thrust yourself in the air, your leg muscles are forced to work at 100% capacity to squat jump as high as possible.
Not only that, when you do jump squats, you are less prone to using one leg more than the other. Even if you have muscular imbalances in your lower body, when you do jump squats, research shows that difference in force between your legs will be negligible.
If you are using jump squats to build muscle mass, you should use some amount of weight because it produces a larger eccentric phase of the movement. As I will talk about below, there is not a need to use big weights when doing jump squats. However, as stated by a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,
“The greater inertia accumulated within the landing phase in weighted jump-squat training (WJST) vs. body mass squat jump training (BMSJT) has increased the eccentric workload, leading to specific eccentric-like adaptations in muscle architecture. The selective improvements in change of direction (COD) in WJST may be related to the increased braking ability generated by the enhanced eccentric workload.”
Helps You Sprint Faster
Sprinting is a sport-specific activity, but if you have a need for sprinting faster, jump squats might be your new best friend! As stated by a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology,
“Concentric force development is critical to sprint start performance and accordingly maximal concentric jump power is related to sprint acceleration.”
Furthermore, according to a study published in Human Movement, the height and power produced during the squat jump is also the best predictor of sprinting speed!
Helps You Jump Higher
As you can imagine, doing jump squats helps you jump higher. If you want to increase your vertical jump, start doing more jump squats!
How to Do Jump Squats – How Much Weight Should You Use?
One of the lesser-known keys to properly doing jump squats is that you want to make sure you are not using too heavy of a weight!
Don’t worry about barbell jump squats or any version of this exercise that includes too much weight- you want to keep them light and fast!
For measuring power, a majority of studies recently have shifted their focus to the power exerted upon an external load, usually measured by reference to the displacement features of the body and the weight.
Individual joints also have their unique power outputs, which may or may not change in direct proportion to the external power output.
Personally, I have always thought of jump squats as more of a conditioning/power movement, even before I understood the actual research. I have always felt that using a lighter weight and more reps gave me more benefits.
After understanding the science, it became even more apparent!
The goal of many of the recent studies done on jump squats was to find out if the power output at the knee, hip and ankles were affected by changes in external load as the exercise was performed.
One study on the subject was published in Sports Biomechanics.
The research team recruited 12 resistance-trained males who had regularly participated in resistance training programs during the previous year.
They were also involved in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball (this is important as they all already played sports where power is a necessity, so they have already created certain instabilities in their bodies).
The researchers recorded different measurements from the subjects during two testing period.
During the first session, subjects performed a 1RM parallel back squat while they performed jump squats in the second session with loads that were equivalent to 0 percent, 12%, 27%, 42%, 56%, 71% and also 85% of their 1RM back squat with 2 to 3 minutes of rest between sets.
The researchers noticed that the average external power output significantly reduced as the load increased, as shown in previous studies. The results prove that regardless of the level of athleticism right now, it is better to load jump squats at a low, or minimum level.
Even performing jump squats only your bodyweight is extremely beneficial for all athletes, and you can challenge your body in many ways using them.
The MOST important take from this is that there will NEVER be a reason to load jump squats heavily on your back!
Jump squats do not need to be weighted heavily to improve your vertical jump, speed, or power! It is proven in science!
The research showed that movement at the ankle, knee, and hip joints witnesses a significant increase with the load, although they do not show significant differences in the increase of torque as the load increases.
If you are looking to work your joints more than your muscles (which is potentially useful in rehabilitation scenarios), adding more weight is possibly a good idea. However, this is not conclusive.
Considering the results of the research, power output of each of the lower-body joints does not change in proportion to external power output, and power output at the hip increased as the load increased to 42% 1RM.
Researchers also concluded that utilizing loads at a specific percentage of 1RM could lead to the preferential development of either hip or ankle joint power, depending on the load used.
For us, this means that we should never have a reason to load more than 42% of our 1rm at any time, and it is even advisable to move to a comfortable position closer to 0% weighted (bodyweight jump squats). Choosing a weight somewhere between 15% and 30% of your 1rm (back squat) will provide you with a comfortable load that is safe for your joints and also allowing for maximum results.
For a well-round lower body power development, it is more beneficial to train jump squats with a range of loads rather than a single- optimal load. The hip joint may not be fully trained using a single load, and power will leak in this gap. A minimum of two loads will be preferable such as 0% of 1 RM and also one with approximately 30% of 1 RM.
In my opinion, you can add jump squats into your routine one to two times per week for a quick shock to your body, and increase in vertical jump, strength, and power.
Since I am a professional basketball player, I prefer to do different variations of jump squats into my training routine two or three times per week. However, I rarely ever duplicate the same weight or repetition structure in the same week.
Concluding Thoughts – Jump Squats Benefits
As you can see, there are many advantages of adding jump squats to your current workout program.
Whether you want to jump higher, run faster, build stronger legs, or add lean muscle mass to your legs to help get an aesthetic body, jump squats are a great exercise for you!