Bodyweight Jump Squats: A Perfect Exercise That Builds Muscle And Burns Fat

When it comes to gaining muscle and burning fat one of the best bodyweight exercises are jump squats.  Although it is a rare exercise to see in any gym they are an extremely effective way of turning your next muscle-building program in to a cardio workout.

Although bodyweight workout routines are not very popular among typical gym goers, and anyone looking to lift weight, when these exercises are done right they can be a great complement to weight training or they can work independently and as effectively as any other strength training workout.

Benefits of A Jump Squat

  • Build Athleticism
  • Stimulates Fast Twitch Muscle Growth
  • Builds Explosiveness
  • Builds Strength and Speed
  • Builds Power
  • Is A Plyometric Exercise

Why Bodyweight Squat Jumps Burn Fat And Make You Lean

As you can see from the list above there are many benefits with this exercise.  When performing this exercise you are helping trigger muscle growth through explosive movements.  In order for the legs to adapt to explosive movements it has to adapt by creating lean muscle.

A simple bodyweight squat only forces the legs to carry the weight of the body through repetitive movements.  By adding a jump the legs have to carry the weight of the body plus get it to forcefully lift off the ground and land.  This exercise improves vertical jumping ability and helps increase speed as well.

When we add a jump to a squat it not only forces the muscles to work but also gets the heart rate elevated the same as any cardio workout.  When we combine both the muscle building and cardio benefits together the fat burning abilities increase greatly.

Make It Twitch For Strong Muscular Legs

You have probably looked at a football player, soccer player, basketball player or any other athlete who requires jumping in their sport.  Their legs are very muscular.  Due to the explosive nature of these sports their legs develop a higher degree of fast twitch muscle.  Fast twitch muscles are what give the body a leaner and muscular appearance.

Compare the legs of athletes who do movements and workouts in short bursts with those who train for endurance like a long distance or marathon runner.  Someone who exercises for endurance or distance has a thinner looking physique, as they do not require fast twitch muscles in order to be explosive.

In order to increase and stimulate fast twitch muscle growth the best way to do so is through burst training and plyometric exercises.

How To Perform A Jump Squat

If you have ever seen or performed a traditional squat using weights then you will know how to perform a bodyweight jump squat.

  • Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart
  • Lower your body at the hips into a seated position
  • Jump as high as you can
  • Do not land with feet straight but rather come down to the seated position on landing

Weighted Jump Squats vs. Bodyweight Jump Squats

Although many athletes perform a weighted version of this exercise using dumbbells or barbells this is not something I see necessary or ideal for the typical person.  Athletes use weights in order to increase the load and demand on their legs.  However, for the average person it can be risky on the lower back when adding additional weight.  Simply use a bodyweight version of this exercise and you will be fine.

At What Point In Your Workout Should You Perform This Exercise?

These exercises can be done before beginning your leg workout, also as a warm-up doing lower body plyometrics workouts or at the end of your weight training.  There really is no ideal or perfect method. If you are doing weight training for your legs it may be best to leave the jump variations until the end as you may find yourself taxing the muscles too early which could affect quality of your weight training.

A Workout That Combines Squat Jumping For Fat Loss And Muscle Growth

The following is a workout I began practicing several years ago that incorporates weight training for legs, jumping squats and interval cardio that develops strong legs and also burns fat very effectively.

Deadlifts- 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions; rest 1 minute between sets

Squats- 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions; rest 1 minute between sets

Leg Press (optional)- 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions; rest 1 minute between sets

Sprint running for 15 minutes in the following sequence

  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute

Jump Squats- 3 to 4 sets of 10 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds between sets

The above workout sequence has been a favorite of mine for quite some time.  It is challenging on the legs but forces the muscles to grow through a combination of explosiveness and bursts of activity.  This workout should only be done once a week in order to allow the legs to rest and recover.

For a strictly bodyweight version of this routine you can simply eliminate the weighted squats, deadlifts and leg press and only perform the sprints and bodyweight squat jumps twice a week.

Include jump squats regularly in your lower body workouts and you will find that it is not only a fun exercise but also great at building lean muscle, burning fat and building athleticism.

Feel free to comment below and join in on the conversation.

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  1. I did bodyweight box jumps when I did my Air Alert jumping program a few years a go. I remember when I did it that it I got a lot more from it than just an improved vertical. Definitely a great exercise to include in your routine.

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Box jumps rock as well. I do them at times as a warm up along with jump squats and jumping rope. Doing them in quick succession for 5 minutes gets me ready to attack my workouts.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Sam,

    Jump squats are a very underrated exercise. The key is incorporating them regulary into your routine. I agree that any explosive movement is great for burning fat and toning muscle. One of my favorite variations to this is the burpee.

    Alykhan – Fitness Breakout

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hey Alykhan,
      Burpees are excellent as well for burning fat. Adding the jump squat is definitely an excellent way of making it more challenging and adding explosiveness.


  3. ditto on the jump squats! I constantly had people ask me what I did for my legs. Did I run? Lol. When I ran marathons I had skinny chicken legs. I also found out I got not just great legs from doing the jump squats but a great butt! I’m half asian…the whole stereotype is asian woman having no butts. When a Puerto Rican girl asked me what I was doing for my butt and legs…I knew I was doing the right exercises lol. I’ve had to give up on the jump squats now that I am pregnant. But I shall be doing them again soon!

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hi April,
      Jump squats are definitely a great way to firm and tone the butt area along with the thighs. It has a combination of great factors in overrall fitness and if anyone is looking for an easier way, but challenging, to get an overrall benefit from one exercise I always recommend this one.

      By the way, guys also don’t mind having a better looking butt… lol


  4. Honestly, I have never used these in my workout routine. I usually perform burpies, so I maybe I should give them a shot. This is a great warm up exercise for my students. Thanks for the thorough explanation Sam.


    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hi Jordan,
      Give jump squats a try. Throw them in as a warmup or along with a legs workout. It works well. You can also add a jump in the burpee for an extra degree of difficulty. I am sure you will like them.


  5. Sounds good Sam !;-)

    I use these babies regular in my Body Weight Circuits, they sure kick butt!

    I think you’re right, that they can be quite effective even stand alone: it’s surprising how sore you can get from them!

    Keep up the good work, incredible value info here on this site, surely a lot of readers will appreciate your expertise.


    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hi Mark,
      Glad you have enjoyed the info I put out. Just adding my 2 cents to getting people out there in shape.
      Bodyweight exercises are underrated and there is so much that can be done. Jump squats or squat jumps as they are often called really get the lower body and the core involved.


  6. Jump squats are a great exercise to build power and strength. In fact, I think most plyometric exercises are. High reps are the enemy though. Much better to perform 10 explosive reps than 50 half reps.

    • Sam Munoz says:

      I agree with you on the reps count. I never go over 10. I see some trainers advocating high rep counts but having a target of 10 reps works best. One of the reasons why it works well is that at that range your fast twitch muscles really get activated. Once you move in to higher reps the explosive benefits decrease greatly.
      Thanks for stopping by.