This Plyometric Move Will Kick Your Cardio Into Turbo Mode

·8 min read
Photo credit: LeoPatrizi - Getty Images
Photo credit: LeoPatrizi - Getty Images

If you’re ready to jump into a new workout that boasts strength, cardio, and mobility, let me introduce you to frog jumps. Perhaps the last time you hopped around like an amphibian, you were in elementary school but this seemingly silly move involves precise technique and is loaded with benefits.

Meet the experts: Kelly Froelich, CPT, is a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Balanced, a digital fitness platform promoting movement at all ages.

“Frog jumps are a plyometric movement going from a low squat position to propelling into the air,” says Kelly Froelich, CPT, co-founder of Balanced. “It’s a high-impact, high-energy movement that truly maximizes power and explosiveness.”

Frog jumps (aka frog squats) are guaranteed to light-up your entire lower-body (hello, quads, glutes, and hamstrings), stabilize your core, increase hip, knee, and ankle mobility, and spike your heart rate, she adds.

So, why are frog squats more effective than other plyo moves? “In comparison to other jumping moves, frog jumps have a unique focus on flexibility and mobility, specifically in the hips,” says Froelich. “Other plyo moves may focus on the explosive portion of the movement, but frog jumps have a set up that focuses on hip mobility and an upright, stable core that takes the exercise through a fuller range of motion,” she explains.

Ready to get a jump start? Here’s everything you need to know about frog squat jumps, including how to do the exercise with perfect form, the best way to incorporate them into your workout, and variations of the move from an expert trainer.

How To Do A Frog Jump With Perfect Form

Proper form is extra important when it comes to frog jumps due to the explosive nature of the exercise and wide range of motion, says Froelich. They require precision and coordination to maximize the benefits, so tune in to your body to master the positioning.

  1. Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward. (The light mini-band around your ankles, as shown above, is optional.)

  2. Inhale as you sit your hips back and down to lower into a deep squat position with your hands touching (or close to) the ground, keeping your back straight and chest tall.

  3. Exhale and push the ground away from you using your feet and jump into the air, extending legs.

  4. Gently land (think toe, ball, heel) back in the deep squat position with hands touching the ground. That’s one rep.

Pro tip: Be sure to keep a slight bend in your knees, chest upright, and core engaged while in the air.

Benefits Of Frog Jumps And Frog Squats

Whether you’re a squatting queen or just getting started, there’s a lot to love about frog jumps. Here are the major rewards you’ll see (and feel!) when adding them into your workout rotation.

  1. Build explosive movement and power. If you’re ready to supercharge your fitness and push your *entire* body, frog jumps are an excellent option. Because they work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core, you’ll gain explosive strength in your lower-body, per studies. “The quick movement to go from a squat position to a jump will build power so that you can react quicker and with more force,” says Froelich.

  2. Boost cardiovascular health. While the frog jump is primarily a strength and power movement, it has the added benefit of increasing aerobic capacity through the continual jumping motion, says Froelich. You can dial up the cardio, too. The faster you move, the more you challenge your cardiovascular system, she explains. “High rep means high aerobic activity.”

  3. Increase hip mobility and flexibility. “You need hip mobility in order to reach the full depth of the squat and not hunch over as you sink your hips low,” says Froelich. Because the deep squat “starting” position requires flexibility in the hips and continues to work your range of motion with each rep, the repetitive flexion and extension opens your hip flexors (and knee joints) to help increase mobility, she adds.

  4. Promote core stabilization. The core is clutch for maintaining form. “You’re keeping yourself upright as you go into the squat, and not hunching over, so you have to engage your core,” says Froelich. Frog jumps will definitely torch the lower-body, but your core also puts in major work as it activates and contracts with each rep to protect and stabilize your back, she explains.

How To Add Frog Jumps To Your Workout

The best way to work frog jumps in is at the beginning or end of your sweat session. “Frog jumps are great to add at the start of a workout and after an in-depth warm-up because they are a full-body movement,” says Froelich. “They are also a great way to end a workout with a cardio push." Just make sure that your core and lower-body are not too tired, because compromised form can lead to injury, she explains.

To maximize your efforts, Froelich suggests combining frog jumps with single-leg lunges, squats, and deadlifts to stabilize and strengthen the lower-body, planks and superhumans to fire up your abs, and hip circles and calf raises to promote hip and ankle mobility.

Your Frog Jump Workout
Beginners:
Start with 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 6 reps.
Intermediate:
Level up to 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Everyone:
Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
Work them in two to three times a week.

Sufficient recovery time from this explosive movement is also super important. “Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets and allow your body time to recover before starting the next,” stresses Froelich. “It all comes back to how many reps you can do without breaking form," she says. Focus on quality over quantity.

Frog Squat Modifications And Frog Jump Progressions

Frog jumps are challenging, so if you need to scale down while you perfect form and work on range of motion, go for it! Once you nail your form (chest up, booty back, hips down), then you’re ready to level-up. Here are trainer-recommended modifications and variations to try at all fitness levels.

  • Limit range of motion. If you don’t consistently work on hip mobility and flexibility, you might feel tension in your hip flexors as you squat, and lean your chest forward as compensation. To avoid this misalignment which can cause lower back injuries, Froelich says to limit your range of motion and only squat as deep as you can with your chest upright. “You don’t have to get your hips into that super low squat,” she says. “As long as your chest is upright, and your arms are reaching your fingertips towards the ground, that’s going to build up that hip mobility.”

  • Keep your feet on the ground. “If you’re building stability and balance, or just getting into high-impact exercises, coming up to your toes instead of jumping is a great option,” says Froelich. You can still do high reps and build explosive power, but you’ll also work on stability and balance by staying in contact with the floor at the top of the movement. When you feel comfortable and stable, you can then try to catch some air.

  • Move around as you jump. If you feel solid and are ready to progress, try traveling as you jump. “Jumping up and down is a great place to start, but moving forward, backward and especially side-to-side as you jump will add more difficulty because you’re moving across different planes,” says Froelich. Plus, training the side-to-side motion targets your gluteus medius, which is extra important for lower-body stability, she explains.

Frog Jump Safety Tips To Avoid Injury

Frog jumps are high-impact, so they may not be appropriate if you have joint probs. Knee or ankle injuries mean you probably should opt for other moves, per Froelich. “You want to make sure you have [knee and ankle] flexibility and stability so you can stay controlled and come back nicely on the descent into the squat position.” If you struggle with knee or ankle pain, modify the move as you build up muscle and rehab any injury.

Mobility is another major component of frog jumps. You need to be able to get into the deep squatting position to do them right. If you have hip pain or a limited range of motion, work on your hip mobility before conquering high reps or progressions, adds Froelich. Forcing yourself into a deep squat can cause injury, so don’t overdo it.

Finally, don’t forget you’re about to get in a sneaky core workout. “Frog jumps require an engaged core to properly do the exercise and may cause lower back pain if performed incorrectly, or by someone who is unable to stabilize the core though the full range of motion,” says Froelich. If you need to boost your core stabilization, add planks, glute bridges, bear holds, and bird dogs into your routine to help prevent injury and keep you moving (and jumping!) efficiently.

Bottom line: Once you nail the deep squat form, you can gain explosive power, lower-body and core strength, and better mobility by performing frog jumps a few times a week.

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