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November 27, 2021
If you are feeling froggy, then jump! In this article, we will go over what a frog jump is and everything you need to know about this incredible plyometric exercise, which includes how to do frog jumps correctly, common mistakes, the benefits and muscles worked, modifications and training variables, and other great plyometric exercise alternatives you can consider.
A frog jump is a plyometric exercises that involves squatting down until your hands are on the floor and then explosively jumping up into the air. It is called a frog jump because the type of squat you do resembles that of a frog, and of course, frogs jump.
As a plyometric exercise, the frog jump is a combination of strength and cardio rolled into one – and actually, your overall mobility and flexibility plays a role in the dynamics of this movement as well! As most of the power and work is coming from the lower body in a frog jump, you will end up reaping the benefits all over your body: from improved posture and weight loss to a stronger heart and lungs!
Frog jumps are a compound movement (meaning that multiple muscle groups are working together in order to do the movement properly). Multiple joints are working at the same time as well, including the hips, knees, and ankle joints. You might think that hopping like a frog isn’t going to be such a powerhouse movement…. but think again!
Frog jumps can be classified as a plyometric exercise, since you are building explosive power through increasing speed while jumping. Essentially, this exercise would be done at maximum effort over a shorter period of time, while integrating it with other movements into a training program. Plyometric movements are high impact, although intensity levels can vary, and for many movements, both feet come up off of the floor at the same time. Essentially, plyometric exercises such as the frog jump enable you to jump higher (or move more quickly) than before training, therefore improving performance within a sport or exercise.
There are several different ways that you can tweak the frog jump, based on your intended intensity level, fitness goals, and current injury status. However, we will break down the regular version of a frog jump, and then you can make changes as necessary (or as your training program advises!).
To begin, you want to ensure that you can get your body into a full, deep squat. This can be the first hinderance for this movement for some people, so having a thorough warmup and good range of mobility will go far in making sure a frog jump can be completed successfully. If the squat motion is difficult for you at the moment, step back and re-evaluate your training program before progressing to a frog jump.
Once you know you are able to get into a deep squat, make sure your back is straight with your shoulder blades down and back and core engaged. With feet about shoulder-width apart, sit your hips down and back while keeping your chest high. Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, keeping your arms extended straight down in front of you – essentially, with fingertips pointing toward the floor.
This will be a challenging position, especially for the core, since you want to keep your chest up high while fingers drop to the floor. If you can touch the ground with your fingers as you lower into your squat, that’s perfect! If not, that’s okay too – you just want to make sure you have correct form as you lower yourself down and back.
Once you are at the bottom of your squat, press through your heels to push yourself away and off of the floor, jumping vertically as high as you can. At the top of the movement, your body should be in full extension – specifically at the hips, knees, and ankles. From here (and with fingertips still pointed down toward the ground), land as lightly as you can and lower back into a squat while repeating the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
There are two different ways that you can modify a frog jump as far as arm placement and where you are jumping.
Option 1: While the exercise listed above has arms extended with fingertips pointing toward the ground during the entire movement, some people like to place their hands behind their head while performing a frog jump. If this is your preferred method, then you want to ensure that your fingertips are just barely interlaced, and your hands don’t actually end up pulling your head forward as you squat and jump. Also, think about someone standing behind you and pulling your elbows back toward them – this is helpful in keeping your elbows from falling forward toward your face, and therefore causing the upper body to possibly begin to round.
Option 2: Another option for your arms is to use them to help propel you up into the air – and in this case, they can start by your sides, with a bend in the elbow (so your arm is at a 90-degree angle). From here, the arms swing backwards as you descend into your squat, and then drive forward as you explode out of the bottom. If you are wanting to focus explicitly on the power and drive from the legs, then having arms extended straight down or placed behind your head will be most helpful.
Jumping in Place OR Jumping Across The Ground: Where you are jumping is another modification that can be made for frog jumps; if you are short on space, you can keep the jump in one place – just up and down. If you have some room to work with (such as a basketball court or a wider exercise room), then you can squat down, and as you explode up, you can also work on your distance, and slowly move your way forward across the floor. If this much space isn’t available in order to do a “walking” frog jump, you can also jump forward and then backward, which will give you slightly more movement than just doing the frog jump in place. Whatever works best for your space situation, you can adapt your frog jumps appropriately!
There are some common mistakes that can be made while performing a frog jump, but they can be rectified with proper form and technique – and while paying attention to your breathing as well! Let’s check out some of the most common mistakes that can be made, and how to fix them.
Breathing: One of the biggest things to think about, outside of form with a frog jump! The tendency can be to hold your breath as you progress through the movement, which can be a huge downfall – especially since the exercise is so powerful! You need all the oxygen to your lungs and body as you can get, so holding your breath during any part of the exercise can be a hinderance. Remember to exhale on the effort (so in this case, as you explode upwards out of the squat) and inhale as you sit down and back into the squat.
Injuries: As mentioned above, frog jumps are a high impact activity – which means they can pose some risk to those who have previously injured the knees, hips, ankles, or low back. The frog jump might not seem like it would pose a threat, but jumping into this movement too quickly (without first ensuring that a deep squat can be achieved correctly and without pain) can cause injuries to occur.
Improper Positioning: As you sit back and down into your deep squat, keeping the chest up is key. In a frog jump – especially as you get tired – it can be a tendency to break at the hips and get into a forward lean as you squat, which places pressure on the lower back and decreases the effectiveness of the core throughout the movement. Remember to keep your gaze forward, core engaged, and shoulder blades retracted throughout the entire exercise.
You wouldn’t necessarily think that jumping like a frog (whether in place or across a room) would be of much benefit – but in actuality, this high impact movement is perfect for torching some calories and improving cardiovascular functioning…. all with little to no space available, and no equipment needed! Let’s check out some other benefits of frog jumps!
Improved Conditioning: Because a frog jump is a compound movement, that means more muscle groups have to work together in order to complete the exercise – and that means more energy and oxygen needs to be available in order to do it! Heart rate increases quickly with a frog jump, meaning your heart and lungs get to work overtime with this high intensity movement. Depending on how many you do/how quickly you do them, frog jumps can be an excellent addition to a training program, especially something like HIIT or Tabata.
Calorie Burn: Frog jumps are going to burn a ton of calories, and fast. You will burn around 26-28 calories per minute with high intensity frog jumping. That's double what most people burn when jogging on the treadmill.
Improved Posture: Who would think that something like a frog jump could improve your overall posture? When done correctly, it can do just that. Because your core needs to stay engaged, as well as your upper back needing to keep your shoulder blades retracted, more is working in a frog jump than just the leg muscles! You might also notice that your lower back is getting stronger as well, which can also correlate with postural improvements over time (pending that the frog jump exercise is done with proper form).
Improved Leg Strength: With triple extension occurring in the lower body with a frog jump – at the hips, knees, and ankles – you can expect major power to occur….as well as major leg strengthening. Frog jumps are wonderful for building explosiveness, as well as toning and sculpting the leg muscles.
Increase Explosive Power: Not only will you improve leg strength but you will improve explosive power, which is not exactly the same, but the two work hand in hand with frog jumps. What this means is, you will be able to jump higher and with more force. Just because you are strong, doesn't mean you are explosive. With frog jumps, you get both.
In a squat, there are multiple muscle movements occurring – and even more so when the exercise changes to a frog jump, adding the explosiveness to it! We know that the lower body is doing the majority of the work in a frog jump…but just what muscles are contributing? Let’s take a look!
Primary muscles: The quads, hamstrings, and glutes are the main movers in this particular exercise – you can definitely feel the burn after just a few reps of frog jumps! The quads (along the front of the thighs) and the hamstrings (along the back of the thighs) work together to both extend your legs straight through the top of the jump, as well as flexing at the hip and knee on the descent. The glutes also play a major part in a frog jump, aiding with hip extension at the top of the frog jump, allowing you to reach up to max height!
Secondary muscles: The secondary muscles are just as important, but maybe aren’t in the spotlight as often when frog jumps are discussed. However, the calves play a role in the movement, allowing you to stabilize during both the squat and the jump as well as controlling the flexion and extension within the ankle joints. The calves are also activated as you jump upwards out of the squat, then engage again to control the descent on the way back down! The erector spinae (in your lower back) aids in supporting your core, while your abdominals stay engaged to help keep you upright during the movement.
Frog jumps are one of those exercises that can be incorporated into a workout program in a variety of ways; whether you do the movement slowly (and maybe even without the jump) as part of a dynamic warmup, include it in a HIIT session, or even wrap up a plyometric workout with frog jumps, the choices are almost endless! There are some things to keep in mind though, regarding training variables in general.
Since frog jumps are a quick, high powered bodyweight plyometric movement, you want to aim to keep reps high – that way, you’re getting the most bang for your buck! If this is a new exercise, then starting out with 10 reps at a time is a reasonable goal. However, as you build up endurance, reps and sets can look more like anywhere from 15 to 20 reps, even up to 30 at a time, for 2 to 4 sets, if you are building up your stamina appropriately! Resting 30 to 60 seconds in between sets gives you enough time to recover, but not enough to have your heart rate fully return to resting.
On the other hand, you can integrate frog jumps into a Tabata or HIIT program, and incorporate them with other high intensity movements. In this case, they would only be done for 20 to 30 seconds at a time (or however long your training program allows), and you can do as many as possible in that timeframe. Remember though, shorter time segments means that you can try and go at fairly high intensity, so knock out as many as you can while still maintaining good form and technique!
Thankfully, there isn’t a one size fits all standard of frog jumps; even though this is considered a high impact movement that is done at a high intensity, you can always modify if needed or desired. If you want to maintain the same sort of movement but remove the jump (and subsequently, the impact on your hips and knees) then your can work on getting into the full depth of the squat – still with arms extended and fingertips toward the floor – and just aim to sit a bit lower in your squat.
These could even turn into tempo squats: 3 second count on the way down, pause for a second at the bottom, then explode up to the start – all while removing the actual jump.
Other movements that you can use as an alternative to frog jumps include:
All of these exercises can aid in building strength and explosive power out of the bottom of a squat, and can strengthen the legs (and the lungs) at the same time.
Frog jumps are a complex, compound movement that falls into the plyometric category. While there are many modifications that can be made to make this exercise suitable for different training programs, the overall form and technique should not change – after all, you want to build a strong and powerful lower body, while reaping the cardiovascular benefits at the same time – so don’t sacrifice excellent movement in the process!
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