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Pop Squats are plyometric bodyweight exercises that combine elements of a squat and a jumping jack.
Pop Squats – A brief explanation
Pop squats are similar to jumping squats or squat jumps, except that pop squats move from a narrow to a wide stance with each jump.
You perform by standing with your feet at shoulder-width and your hands by your sides or at your waist. You then jump your feet out to the sides while lowering your body into a squat. As you jump your feet back in and stand up, you clap your hands together above your head.
You repeat the movement continuously, intending to get your heart rate up and work multiple muscles together.
Pop squats are often included in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts or as a cardio exercise to add variety and challenge to your routine.
This article explains what pop start can do for you and why it should be part of your fitness regimen.
Pop Squat: Target Muscles
Pop squats are a compound exercise that works multiple muscles together, making them an efficient way to target several areas of your body.
Including them in your training regimen can help you target and work the following muscles:
- Quadriceps or Quads
The quadriceps, or quads, are muscles on the front of your thighs. They are the primary targeted muscles during the squatting motion of pop squats.
The hamstrings are muscles on the back of your thighs. You engage them during the squatting motion of pop squats to help stabilize and control the movement.
The glutes, or your butt muscles, are essential for hip extension and stabilization during squatting motion.
You engage the calf muscles in your lower legs during the jumping portion. That helps to propel you off the ground.
- Core Muscles
The core muscles, including your abs and back muscles, help to stabilize and control your body during the jumping and squatting motions of the squats.
Steps to follow for the pop squat exercises
- Stand with your feet at shoulder-width, arms by your sides or resting on your waist, and your toes pointing out. Keep your back straight and your neck neutral.
- Inhale, bend your knees, and push your hips back to lower your body into a squat. Keep your chest up and your weight on your heels.
- Continue the downward movement until your thighs are about parallel to the floor.
- Then, push through your feet, and with explosive force, jump upward with your feet outward to the sides. Ensure you spread your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Bring your feet inward toward each other as you descend such that you land on the floor with your feet a few inches apart. Ensure you land on your toes.
- As you land, immediately lower your body back into the squat position and repeat the movement.
- Continue the jump and squat motions for the desired repetitions or a set amount of time.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
- Land softly on the balls of your feet to reduce the impact on your joints.
- Newbies should start with a few repetitions at a slower pace to ensure proper form and avoid injury.
Pop squats benefits
Including pop squats in your training regimen can offer you many benefits.
Pop squats can help boost your cardiovascular health.
Pop squats are a high-intensity exercise that can help elevate your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health.
The exercises involve explosive movements that engage large muscle groups. The combination of squatting and jumping can quickly raise your heart rate. That can lead to increased calorie expenditure.
Burning calories can contribute to weight loss or maintenance, which can help improve your cardiovascular health.
The intense and continuous movements require higher oxygen consumption. That challenges your cardiovascular system, helping to improve its efficiency in delivering oxygen to your muscles.
Various studies show interval training can improve cardiovascular fitness more effectively than steady-state exercises. Thus, incorporating pop squats into your training regimen can help improve your overall cardiovascular endurance over time.
That can help your heart and lungs to become more efficient at supplying oxygen to your muscles during physical activity.
Improvement in your leg and glute strength
Pop squats can effectively target and improve leg and glute strength.
The squatting motion targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, which can help tone your muscles and improve lower body strength.
The movement involves a squatting motion, which targets the quadriceps muscles in the front of your thighs.
As you lower into the squat position and push back up, your quadriceps are engaged to support and control the movement.
The glutes play a significant role in pop squats. You activate your glutes when you lower into the squat position and explosively jump up. That helps to stabilize your hips and generate power.
While the primary emphasis is on the quads and glutes, pop squats also engage the hamstring muscles at the back of your thighs. The hamstrings maintain balance and control by acting as stabilizers during the squatting and jumping motions.
The repetitive pop squats movement promotes muscle endurance in your legs and glutes, allowing them to perform activities for longer durations before experiencing fatigue. That can improve your ability to perform daily tasks and sports-related activities more effectively.
Pop squats can help activate the core muscles.
Pop squats can activate the core muscles to provide stability and control during the exercise.
Going into the squat position requires you to engage your core muscles to help maintain stability and prevent excessive forward or backward leaning. That helps to maintain proper form and control throughout the exercise.
Your core muscles assist in generating the necessary force for the jump, helping you to propel upward efficiently.
Your core muscles also play a significant role in maintaining balance and stabilizing your body during the jumping and landing phases, helping to prevent unnecessary sway or imbalance.
Your core muscles help to stabilize your torso and maintain proper alignment during the rapid movements of the poa squats. That can enhance overall core strength and stability.
They are cost-effective and convenient to do
Pop squats require no equipment. That means you can do them anywhere and at your convenience. They are versatile and will cost you nothing apart from your time.
Pop squats can help enhance agility and coordination.
Pop squats can help improve agility and coordination due to their dynamic and fast-paced nature.
The movements involve rapid transitions between squatting and jumping. That requires quick changes in direction and challenges your body to adapt and respond swiftly. That can help improve your ability to change direction effectively in various activities or sports.
Plyometric exercises can enhance neuromuscular coordination (1) and improve the efficiency of muscular contractions, leading to improved agility and coordination.
Performing pop squats helps develop proprioceptive awareness, which is your body’s ability to sense its position and movement in space, helping to improve your overall body awareness and control.
Pop squats involve coordination between multiple joints and muscle groups, including the legs, hips, core, and upper body. That can help increase your overall motor coordination and synchronization.
Regularly practicing pop squats can enhance your sense of timing and rhythm as the movement requires coordination between multiple joints and muscle groups, including the legs, hips, core, and upper body. That can translate into improved coordination in other physical activities.
Pop squats work multiple muscle groups, including your legs, glutes, and core, which can help increase muscle strength and endurance.
Fun and engaging
The jumping motion of pop squats can make them a fun and engaging exercise, which may help you stay motivated and consistent with your workouts.
Some typical pop squats mistakes
Pop squats are not very challenging to master, but they can still demand a lot from your muscles.
Starting with proper form and maintaining that throughout the movement can help you achieve the most exercises.
Unfortunately, many exercisers don’t enjoy all or most of the benefits of pop squats due to various mistakes.
Below, we highlight some typical pop squats mistakes to help guide you.
- Doing the exercise in an improper form
Failing to maintain proper form during pop squats can lead to injury and decrease the effectiveness of the exercise. Some typical mistakes include leaning too far forward or arching your back, not keeping your knees in line with your toes, or not squatting low enough.
As with all exercises, start with proper form, gradually increase intensity and volume, and listen to your body to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise.
- Landing too hard
Landing too hard after jumping during pop squats can put undue pressure on your joints and increase the risk of injury.
Focus on landing softly and bend your knees and hips to help absorb the impact.
- Not engaging core muscles
Core muscles help to stabilize and control your body during pop squats. Not engaging your core can put unnecessary stress on your back and increase the risk of injury.
- Starting too quickly
Pop squats are a high-intensity exercise. Thus aim to start slow and gradually increase intensity and volume over time. That can help you to avoid injury and overexertion.
- Not breathing properly
Breathing well during pop squats can help you to maintain proper form and maximize the benefits of the exercise.
Ensure to inhale as you lower into the squat and exhale as you jump up.
Alternative exercises to pop squats
Some exercisers may struggle with pop squats due to various reasons.
- Poor strength
Effectively doing the pop squats movements requires a certain level of leg and core strength and cardiovascular endurance. Exercisers lacking in these may find pop squats challenging.
- Poor mobility or flexibility
Proper execution of pop squats requires adequate mobility and flexibility in the hips, knees, and ankles. Any exerciser with such issues as tightness or restricted range of motion may find it challenging to perform the exercise correctly.
- Lack of coordination or body awareness
Pop squats involve a combination of squatting and jumping motions. That requires coordination and body awareness. Lacking these will make pop squats more challenging.
- Joint or muscle issues
Previous injuries, joint pain, or muscle imbalances can affect a person’s ability to perform pop squats. Pain or limitations in the knees, hips, or ankles can make it challenging or uncomfortable to execute the exercise.
- Technique or form issues
Pop squats require proper form and technique for optimal performance and safety. Not mastering the correct form can lead to failure.
- Your fitness level
Newbies or those with lower fitness levels may find it challenging to do pop squats because of their high-intensity nature.
Gradually building strength, endurance, and coordination through appropriate progressions and modifications can help overcome the above challenges.
For those pop squats, we recommend they start with modifications or alternative exercises that target similar muscle groups and gradually progress as your strength, coordination, and fitness level improve.
Below are some alternative exercises to pop squat to consider
Jumping jacks are similar to the jumping motion of pop squats and may put less pressure on the lower body. Jumping jacks work the legs, core, and upper body and can be a great cardiovascular exercise.
Lunges are another great lower body exercise targeting the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The movement requires no equipment, but you can add free weights to make them more challenging.
Burpees are full-body exercises that combine squats, jumps, and push-ups. They are high-intensity exercises that can help improve cardiovascular health, build strength, and burn calories.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Poq squats can help you to work several muscles, including your legs, glutes, and core, at the same time. They are plyometric exercises that can help boost your fitness levels.
They are bodyweight exercises that require no equipment. Thus they will not set you back financially, but the benefits are enormous, making them worth considering as part of your training regimen.
You can include pop squats in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts or as a cardio exercise to add variety and challenge to your routine.
- Slimani M, Chamari K, Miarka B, Del Vecchio FB, Chéour F. Effects of plyometric training on physical fitness in team sport athletes: A systematic review. J Hum Kinet. 2016;53:231-247. doi:10.1515/hukin-2016-0026
- Sáez de Villarreal E, Requena B, Cronin JB. The Effects of Plyometric Training on Sprint Performance: A Meta-Analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Feb;26(2):575-84. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318220fd03