How to Do Pop Jack Properly

The pop jack is a variation of jumping jacks that focuses more on your hip flexors and core.

It is a great exercise for increasing flexibility, muscle tone, and strength, and fitness.

Doing the pop jack is similar to doing burpees except when you come from the plank position, instead of jumping, you complete the movement with a squat.

To do this exercise:

  • Start in a plank position. Extend your hands with your wrists under your shoulders. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes.
  • Jump both feet forward into a low squat where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • You can hold out your hands in a raised position for balance then quickly jump your feet back into the plank position.
  • Do as many as possible within 30s.

WHAT MUSCLES DO POP JACK WORK?

1.      CORE

The pop jack exercise helps strengthen your core.

The muscles targeted are the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques.

The rectus abdominis is the large muscle at the front of the abdominal wall. It is responsible for the six-pack. It starts from the sternum and extends to the top of the pubic bone.

The main role of the rectus abdominis is to enable you to bend forward.

The transverse abdominis (TVA) is a deep layer of muscle found behind the rectus abdominis along the walls of your abdomen.

The TVA helps secure your internal organs and stabilize your spine. They enable your lower legs to move.

The obliques are made up of internal and external obliques. Internal obliques are located above the transverse abdominis.

The internal obliques are thin and are one layer of the abdominal wall. They enable you to bend and rotate your torso. They also work with the external obliques to extend your torso.

The external obliques are the larger obliques. They are located laterally on the frontal region of the rectus abdominis and extend from the lower ribs to the pelvis. They help you rotate your torso.

2.      SHOULDERS

Due to the planking that happens during the starting position of the pop jack, the shoulder muscles will be worked on the pop jack.

The deltoids are large triangular located over the shoulder joint. They are made of three fibres: the anterior (front), the lateral (middle) and the posterior (back).

They originate from the clavicle and shoulder blade and insert into the humerus.

3.      ARMS

The biceps and triceps are engaged when you get into the starting position of this exercise.

They are located on the inner part of the upper arm. They help flex your arm at the elbow.

The triceps are located on the outer part of the upper arm. Triceps help extend your elbow.

They help support the weight of your upper body before you jump into the low squat.

4.      SERRATUS ANTERIOR

This is the chest muscle activated by the plank motion.

It is a large muscle shaped like a fan found on the upper part of the ribs.

The serratus anterior helps maintain upright stability for your torso.

POP JACK BENEFITS

1.      IMPROVED STABILITY

Pop jacks help increase strength in your core and lower back muscles.

This exercise activates the core muscles more than most core strengthening exercises such as crunches.

The exercise helps make mobility easier for day-to-day activities such as walking, running or climbing stairs.

Improved coordination helps reduce the risk of injury.

2.      IMPROVED HEALTH

Strengthening your lower back muscles helps reduce the risk of lower back pain. Having a strong core boosts the alignment of your spine.

This exercise can also help rehabilitate a back with existing lower back pain. It can help manage chronic lower back pain.

3.      WEIGHT LOSS

This is a cardio exercise. It burns a lot of calories to do it.

This will help you meet your weight loss goals. It burns fats and helps build lean muscle mass in your upper body.

4.      CONVENIENCE

This exercise can be done from the comfort of your own home or anywhere you have enough space to get into a plank position.

It doesn’t require any specialized equipment or trainers.

ALTERNATIVES TO POP JACK

1.      SIDE PLANKS

To do this exercise:

  • Lie on your left side with your legs fully extended and your feet stacked on each other.
  • Put your left elbow under your shoulder with the forearm angled away from you.
  • Tighten your core, exhale and lift your hips off the floor.
  • Ensure your body is in a straight line and hold the position for at least 60s.
  • Repeat as desired.

2.      JUMP SQUATS

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees partially bent.
  • Drop to a full squat.
  • Tighten your core and glutes and push through your heels to extend your legs into a jump.
  • Land on the balls of your feet in a controlled motion then drop into a squat for the next jump.
  • Repeat for the desired reps.

3.      BICYCLE CRUNCHES

To do this exercise:

  • Get into the starting position by lying on your back. Ensure your lower back is pressed to the floormat.
  • Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and your hands behind your head.
  • Engage your core. Pull your navel towards your back to stabilize your spine.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and raise your knees to a 90-degree angle towards your elbow. Twist your torso so they meet. If you raise your right knee, it should touch your left elbow.
  • This creates a bicycling motion as you swap knees. As you lower your right knee, extend the leg as your left knee touches your right elbow.
  • Repeat up to 20 times for three sets.

POP JACK MISTAKES TO AVOID

Avoid having your core loose when you’re doing pop jacks. If you don’t tighten your abs, you increase the risk of injury.

Try to warm up before starting. Doing this with your muscles cold can lead to seizing of your muscles.

This exercise can be hard on your ankles, hip flexors, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Ensure these joints are properly strengthened before you add pop jacks to your workout routine.

Don’t dip your hips when you get into starting position. This increases the risk of lower back pain.

Avoid pushing through the exercise if you are feeling overheated, tired or dizzy.

If you feel your joints creaking you should stop immediately.