I did 50 squat jumps a day for a week — here’s what happened to my body

A photo of a woman doing a squat jump onto a box
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Cast your mind back to the lockdown days when bodyweight circuits in your living room were a common occurrence. For me, my main memory of these at-home workouts were sweaty High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions that involved an awful lot of squat jumps — so many, in fact, my neighbors probably hated me. This excellent bodyweight move gets your heart rate up and torches the muscles in your legs in record time, while also working on your explosive power.

Since lockdown ended, I don’t think I’ve done a single squat jump so to shake up my routine, I decided to do 50 squat jumps a day for a week to give my legs a bit of a challenge. Ready to find out what happened? Read on. 

What are the benefits of a squat jump?

If it’s lower body strength you’re after, then plyometric moves — that is, exercises that involve a jump, need to be one of your go-tos. Research has found that plyo moves such as squat jumps, significantly increase strength, so imagine the muscle mass you could develop from weight training and plyometric training combined.  

Plus, a squat jump is brilliant at working your heart and lungs, therefore improving your overall fitness. From bone strength to weight management to brain health and lowering the risk of disease, getting fit should be a priority at any age, and getting your heart rate up is important.

Squat jumps can also help to maintain good balance. Studies have found that plyometric exercises require strong postural control, which makes them useful for improving your overall balance.  

How to do a squat jump 

A squat jump is much like a squat, but as the name suggests, there’s a jump involved. Here’s how to do a squat jump with good form: 

an illo of a woman doing a squat jump

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • For a squat jump, start standing upright with arms down by your side and feet just wider than hip-width apart.
  • Squat down, pushing your hips back and down, maintaining a flat back.
  • Once you’re down in your squat, immediately explode upwards, extending your legs and using your arms to drive you as high as you can off the floor.
  • Then as you land back to the ground, land softly on your feet, bending the knees and dripping back down into a squat before immediately jumping right back up again.
  • Keep repeating this until you’ve completed your allotted amount, which in my case was 50.

Want to make it harder? You can do this with a barbell on your back or hold a dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands. However, do be aware that with a dumbbell, your body is more likely to lean forward, which is a big no-no, as it can lead to injury. 

To make the move easier, make your jump smaller or, rest between each jump for a second. 

I did 50 squat jumps a day for a week — here’s what happened 

My heart rate soared

Need a high-intensity exercise guaranteed to get your heart rate up and have you breathing heavily? Try squat jumps. My heart rate shot up during my 50 squat jumps and I was gassed by the end. After about 30 squat jumps I could feel my heart hammering in my chest.

I’m a personal trainer and marathon runner and thought I was pretty fit, but day one of this challenge humbled me. 

My quads were on fire

I’m always amazed at how such a seemingly simple move can cause so much pain. If my quads could talk, they’d have been cursing at me for putting them through 50 squat jumps a day.

So were my glutes

All these squats were bound to have an impact on my glutes, the biggest muscle in the body. After all, the glutes are activating as you squat down, and they’re also working when you jump upwards. Not feeling it in your glutes? Then try activating your glutes beforehand with some resistance band exercises and some bodyweight squats, placing a lot of emphasis on pushing up through the heels so that the glutes wake up.

I broke up my 50 squat jumps

If you can do 50 squat jumps straight off the bat then I applaud you. What with the quad burn and my heart and lungs hammering inside my chest, I found that most days I had to take a couple of breaks to give my legs a second of respite. 

If I did my 50 squat jumps after a leg workout then my breaks were more frequent, for obvious reasons. However, generally, I was doing 30 reps, taking a break, and then doing another 20 squat jumps.  

I learned to wear good shoes

On day four of the challenge, I did my squat jumps at home in just a pair of socks, and soon after I felt my ankles twinging a little. Perhaps my form wasn’t great without the mirror in the gym, however when I opted to do my squat jumps in supportive trainers, such as Nike Metcons, the ankle pain went away. The lesson here is to wear supportive shoes. 

I did 50 squat jumps a day for a week — here’s my verdict 

There’s a reason I love squat jumps and recommend them to my clients — they’re a high-energy, muscle-burning exercise you can do from anywhere. They work your heart and lungs to improve your fitness, and they help increase muscle strength and power in the lower body whilst also improving balance. Seriously, what's not to love? 

Aside from the fact they burn, throw these into a lower body workout, or a short ‘n’ sweet high-intensity session and you’ll give your legs a very good workout. In fact, I think I might up my challenge and go for 150 squat jumps a day next…watch this space! 

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Lucy Gornall

Lucy is a freelance health and fitness journalist as well as a pre and post-natal personal trainer. Although a sweaty gym session (skipping rope is a must) is her favorite way to ‘relax’, she’s also a fan of bingeing on The Office, snacking on chocolate-coated raisins, and fizz-filled brunches with friends.