How to Do Squat Jumps

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

woman on stairs doing squat jumps

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Also Known As: Jump squats

Targets: Butt, hips, legs, thighs

Level: Beginner

Squat jumps and plyometric jumps are basic drills that improve agility and power as well as help improve an athlete's vertical jump. This exercise is often used as the beginning movement to develop proficiency in the vertical jump, high jump, long jump, and box jumps. It can be done as a single exercise or as a combination that includes other movements before and/or after the jump. Some coaches use this drill to help improve an athlete's technique during the full squat lift. Squat jumps are a great exercise to include in home workouts since they can be done in a small space without any equipment. You can use them to add high-intensity intervals to cardio workouts.


This exercise uses your lower body muscles as well as your core: abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. The squat jump exercise ranks near the top of the list for developing explosive power using only an athlete's body weight. Anyone who participates in activities that require a lot of sprinting, like soccer, football, track, baseball, or track, should be doing plyometric exercises. Numerous research studies have found that exercises like the squat jump improve sprint performance since both need that explosive power from the muscles. It is also good for children as young as age 5, and will help them develop their running and kicking abilities, as well as balance and agility.

How to Do Squat Jumps

This exercise is an advanced dynamic power move that should be done only after a complete warm up.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width and knees slightly bent.
  2. Bend your knees and descend to a full squat position.
  3. Engage through the quads, glutes, and hamstrings and propel the body up and off the floor, extending through the legs. With the legs fully extended, the feet will be a few inches (or more) off the floor.
  4. Descend and control your landing by going through your foot (toes, ball, arches, heel) and descend into the squat again for another explosive jump.
  5. Upon landing immediately repeat the next jump.

The number of squat jumps per set will depend on your goals. You aim for higher and more explosive jumps if you are trying to develop power and improve your vertical jump. You might do only five reps for three to four sets. If you want general conditioning, you would do more jumps and do them faster.

Common Mistakes

Use these tips to avoid poor form and get the most benefit from this exercise.

No Warmup

Don't perform this exercise with cold muscles. Do a cardio warmup such as brisk walking, jogging, or easy jump roping so you have sent blood into your muscles.

Hard Surface

Consider your environment. Avoid doing these drills on concrete and use a soft, flat landing surface until you are comfortable with the exercise.

Overdoing It

When you find an exercise that is fun to do and is effective, there is a tendency to do it more often. In this case, fight the urge. Use these drills no more than once per week to avoid overuse or excessive impact on your joints.

Adding Extra Weight

Don't be lured into adding extra weight, according to a review of the scientific literature published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It turns out no extra benefits were found by adding extra weight to the exercise.

Modifications and Variations

This exercise can be modified to make it easier or more challenging.

Need a Modification?

Nail the jump, then tuck. Tucking your knees up is an advanced move. Get comfortable with the squat jump and gain some height before you start bringing your knees to your chest.

Decide what's more important: speed or height. Figure out what your goal is for this exercise. If it is speed, know that the height of your jumps will suffer. If it is height, which translates into more power, then slow down.

Squat jumps, without the tuck, can help kids as young as 5 years old. The current evidence suggests that a twice a week program for eight to 10 weeks beginning at 50 to 60 jumps a session will work. An alternative program for children who do not have the capability or tolerance for a twice a week program would be a low-intensity program for a longer duration. And since adults will garner the same benefits, squat jumps can be a family affair.

Up for a Challenge?

Once you have mastered stationary squat jumps, you can jump up onto a step or low bench no more than 6 inches tall. Jump up, pause, stand up straight, then step down. Repeat.

You can use squat jumps to add high-intensity intervals to a workout. Perform repeated jumps without resting between reps for the needed interval.

To develop lower body power, use an isometric version. In the squat, pause and squeeze your quadriceps (front of thighs) and gluteal muscles (buttock muscles) before you jump up.

Safety and Precautions

Discuss with your doctor or physical therapist whether squat jumps should be avoided if you have any condition of the knees, ankles, hips, back, or neck. If you have been told that you should only do low-impact activities, it is likely that you should avoid squat jumps. This is true for pregnancy as the hormones affect your joints and the change in your body center of mass will affect your balance.

If you are free of these conditions, be sure to only do squat jumps every 48 to 72 hours, giving your body plenty of time to recover and the exercise to be effective. Always be sure that the area where you are doing jumps is free of clutter and has a non-skid surface. Don't allow pets or small children in the area when you are doing squat jumps so they won't end up underfoot.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sáez de Villarreal E, Requena B, Cronin JB. The Effects of Plyometric Training on Sprint Performance: A Meta-Analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Feb;26(2):575-84. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318220fd03

  2. Johnson BA, Salzberg CL, Stevenson DA. A Systematic Review: Plyometric Training Programs for Young Children. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2623-33. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318204caa0

Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.