Fitness: The best exercise you can do to train your legs at home, revealed

The jump squat is a metabolic conditioning exercise that trains your legs as well as Olympic lifting

Squat jump
(Image credit: Megan Holmes/Unsplash)

Most experienced resistance training enthusiasts have tried big, compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. However, with many gyms closed as a result of the global health crisis, lots of us are left without big heavy barbells, leg presses and squat racks to exercise our legs.

However, you can get similar benefits at home with nothing except an elevated surface, like a box or a park bench. Introducing the squat jump. 

One 2016 study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine looked at the benefits of eight weeks of squat jump training. The study found consistent training of the move led to "significant improvements in countermovement jump, squat jump, maximum squat force and average force" in moderately trained young men.

Not only does it give your legs more raw power, it also makes you run faster. The study also found more improvements in 50 meter sprint time as a result of consistent squat jump training. 

Another study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, said: "the ability to express high levels of power and speed are essential components of athletic success in numerous sports" and recommended the jump squat be included in training for athletes to develop "peak power".

The reason why jump squats are so good at developing lower-body power is that unlike regular air squats, jump squats are a plyometric movement. Plyometric moves require explosive force to lift you off the ground, developing fast-twitch muscle fibres in your legs. 

These are the same muscle fibres that fire when you jump, sprint or perform any other explosive movement, which is why jump squat training helps you run faster over short distances and develop lower-body power.

If you're struggling to cope without heavy weights, or if you're just looking to develop lower-body power at home, the jump squat should be your go-to move. 

How to do a squat jump

Squat jump

(Image credit: Future)
  • Stand up tall, hands behind your head, your elbows drawn back to shoulder level and your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Squat down in the usual fashion and pause for five seconds. Get as low as you can
  • while squatting. Ideally, your thighs will be parallel to the floor.
  • Explosively jump as high as you can. Once you have landed, repeat the exercise for the set number of repetitions, or at least a minute.

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