The full body-conditioning move for anyone who's bored of burpees

·5 min read
Photo credit: dusanpetkovic - Getty Images
Photo credit: dusanpetkovic - Getty Images

The humble tuck jump comes with multiple benefits; it's great for improving your cardio fitness, shooting your heart rate up and working your lower body and core. However, there are some things to know if you want to perform the circuit-training move properly.

Which muscles does a tuck jump work?

  • Hamstring

  • Quads

  • Glutes

  • Calves

  • Core

From the muscles that run along the front and back of your lower body to your lower abdominal and core, you're set for a real full-body burn.

"As a compound movement, many muscle groups are working simultaneously during the movement from start to finish," says Laurence Marie, trainer at F45 Noak Hill.

"As you drop down into the quarter squat, think of your hamstrings as a loaded spring. When you shoot up again your quadriceps and glutes will fire up and the loaded energy will be released with the additional upward force generated by your calves."

Plus, as you bring your knees to your chest, your lower abs come into play – helping to draw your legs up with your core working overtime to keep your spine stable mid-movement, too.

What are the benefits of a tuck jump?

  • builds lower body and core strength

  • improves your cardio ability

  • pushes your body to fatigue quickly for improved metabolic health

  • doesn't need a lot of space

  • is easy to make harder or more simple

  • requires no equipment

"They are a great exercise for a full-body workout, as they increase power and athletic performance, strengthen the core and often push your body into the anaerobic training zone," says Lotti Maddox, head of movement at Blok.

"Anaerobic training" refers to exercise that doesn't use any oxygen. Now, that isn't to say you're not breathing, rather that your body is working so hard it can't supply your muscles with oxygen fast enough. Working out like this (HIIT, is a good example) forces your body to adapt and improve, leading to improved stamina and endurance.

How to do a tuck jump

Photo credit: rebecca jacobs
Photo credit: rebecca jacobs
  1. Start by standing with your feet a little less than shoulder-width apart.

  2. Drop down a little into a quarter squat then explode into the air.

  3. Keep your back straight throughout and tuck your knees up towards your chest as much as possible, before landing as softly as you can. Avoid landing with locked knees and be sure to maintain an upright neutral spine as you land.

"On landing, you can either pause before jumping again or, once you have become more in tune with the movement, go straight into another tuck jump," says Marie. "The latter is tough, and it is important to ensure you are not leaning in towards your knees rather than bringing them up to your chest. You can also swing your arms to increase your momentum."

3 signs you're not doing tuck jumps correctly

You’re locking your knees when you land

Land with rigid knees and you won’t be able to absorb the impact, and you’ll force unnecessary pressure through your joints, which can lead to breaks.

You’re arching your back

Keep your spine neutral – if you arch your back, you won’t engage your core properly, putting your hips and back at risk of injury.

You're not pushing through your heels

"It’s important when tuck jumping to sit your weight back in your heels and power through your glutes to jump. This will avoid putting too much pressure on your knees," says Maddox.

Are tuck jumps bad for your knees?

"Remember, as with most jumping explosive exercises, if you have a knee, ankle, back or hip injury, it's best to avoid tuck jumps altogether as it is these areas that absorb most of the impact during the exercise," says Marie. Try these cardio exercises for bad knees, instead.

What is a substitute for a tuck jump?

If tuck jumps aren't your thing, here are a couple of ways to make tuck jumps easier or harder, depending on your preference.

How to make a tuck jump easier: single-leg knee tucks

This exercise essentially breaks a full tuck jump into two separate parts, explains Marie. Here's how to perform the regression:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down towards the floor.

  2. As you return upwards lift a single knee up and drive it to the same side elbow.

  3. Squat back down and alternate the knee that you're lifting.

"This completely eliminates the impact but will also reduce the intensity, so be sure to add in some extra reps to challenge yourself," he says.

How to make a tuck jump more difficult: burpee tuck jumps

Ready for a challenge? Enter the burpee tuck jump. Designed to set your fitness tracker on fire, you'll bring your upper body (arms, back, chest and upper core) into the mix, too.

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, bracing your core.

  2. Place your hands on the floor and jump your feet back, landing in a high plank position.

  3. From there, jump your legs back towards your hands to land in a squat position and explode up into a jump, pulling your knees towards your chest in the air.

  4. When you land, make sure you keep your knees soft. Repeat.

"Adding a burpee in-between each repetition will massively change the game and push you to the next level," says Marie. "Remember, giving progressions a try is great for fitness and wellbeing development. If you cannot sustain a progression, simply regress mid-set back to a simpler variation to smash your goals."

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