The side straddle hop, commonly known as jumping jacks or star jump is a beginner-friendly cardiovascular exercise that is all-inclusive working both your upper and lower body muscles.
Chances are pretty high that you did this workout as a child but it retains relevance even among adults, and therefore can still provide value if incorporated in your workout regimen.
This is because they are simple to perform and require no equipment. That said, proper form is especially important when doing this workout in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
The side straddle hop is therefore a great place to start if you’re looking for a basic cardio exercise.
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HOW TO DO SIDE STRADDLE HOP
- With your feet together, stand straight and place your arms to your sides.
- Simultaneously, jump with both your feet outwards and raise your arms above you. Your feet should be on opposite sides.
- Then quickly jump back, bringing your feet together and your arms back to your side to form an inverted V shape with your body.
- Repeat this till your heart rate is increased and your muscles fully worked.
WHAT MUSCLES DO THE SIDE STRADDLE HOP WORK?
HIP ABDUCTORS AND ADDUCTORS
The movement of your feet in a side straddle hop helps work your inner thigh muscles also known as your hip adductors.
This translates into stability which also applies in your day-to-day physical activities.
The hip abductors are also activated every time you jump outward and inwards. Movements that are pretty common while doing the side straddle hop
The calf muscles are found at the back of your lower legs and play a huge role in providing stability and balance as you move your feet outwards and inwards.
These muscles also facilitate proper posture that in turn ensures you’re not directing excessive strain to your ankle or foot.
SHOUDER ADDUCTORS AND ABDUCTORS
These muscles are worked when you move your arms above up and down. Specifically, shoulder abductors are targeted when you move your arms away from your body and above you a process known as arm flexion.
Shoulder adductors on the other hand, are stimulated when you return your arms to your sides, near your body.
BENEFITS OF SIDE STRADDLE HOP
HELP S BURN CALORIES
The side straddle is technically a strength training as well as a cardiovascular exercise.
As such, it is much more likely to trigger weight loss as a result of the double-edged sword that comes in the form of increased heart rate and muscle engagement.
This shows that although this exercise is quite easy to do and can be performed anywhere, it is also very demanding since it is extremely engaging.
For those that are more experienced, you can increase the intensity by decreasing your rest time and increasing your intensity and the number of sets you do.
IT IS A FULL BODY WORKOUT
The side straddle hop involves lateral jumps springing the upper and lower body muscles into action. This, therefore, triggers the stimulation of muscles all over the body, making it a perfect full-body aerobic exercise.
Some of the engaged areas include the arm, abdominal, chest, back, and leg muscles. Universal muscle engagement is important as it ensures that there are no weak spots in your arsenal and enables you to do other exercises even more efficiently.
It also ensures that commonly ignored areas receive the necessary attention
IMPROVE BONE AND MUSCLE STRENGTH
Apart from shedding excess fat and keeping you fit, this exercise also boosts bone and muscle strength.
The weight that is exerted on the bones and muscles engaged in the exercise comes with a level of shock. It is this shock that forces the engaged areas to adapt in order to handle this force better.
As a result, this translates into stronger bones and muscles that can withstand the force of your own body weight.
ALTERNATIVES TO SIDE STRADDLE HOP
This exercise works both your upper and lower body and it requires no equipment.
- Start with an even distribution on your weight with your forearms and toes on the floor like in a plank. Keep your back straight and your hands shoulder-width apart.
- In this position engage your core by pulling your left knee as close to your chest as possible.
- Straighten your left knee then alternate to your right leg and pull it closer to your chest. Breathe in and out after every leg switch.
- Repeat this movement and increase your speed to fully engage your muscles.
You will need a bar for this exercise.
- Begin with your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar. Your arms will be overhead and your palms in front of you.
- Push your chest up to engage your chest muscles.
- Breathe in and pull yourself up to almost touch your chest then exhale.
- Gradually bring yourself slowly to your arms extended.
To perform this workout, you will need a rope.
- Take the ends of the rope or its handles and start with the rope behind you.
- Slightly bend your knees then slowly rotate your forearms forward and upward so that the rope goes above you.
- When the rope gets close to you jump then cross it over your heels and repeat
- You can choose to alternate hops or hop with both your feet on the floor. Timing when to jump is everything but don’t fret if you are struggling with that.
SIDE STRADDLE HOP MISTAKES TO AVOID
In order to engage your whole body, the side straddle hop requires that you take up certain positions. Failure to do so directs excessive force to the knees which buckle as a result of the excessive pressure.
Avoid this by engaging your glutes, tightening your core, and keeping your back straight as you carry out this exercise for the best results.
The correct technique while jumping is to ensure that your movements are coordinated.
This means that as you jump going out, your arms are overhead and as you come in, they are at your sides.
The side straddle hop can be a great addition to your workout schedule due to its versatility whether as a solo or warm-up exercise.
It is also extremely beneficial because apart from exercising your whole body, it also gets your heart rate up. Consequently, this ends up boosting your metabolism and burning calories in the long run