I did 7 minutes of bunny hops every day for one week — here's what happened to my abs

Woman hopping with hands on floor during ab workout
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I’ve been doubling down on the animal-themed exercises this year, and I couldn’t resist giving bunny hops a try after they popped up during a recent hot yoga class. 

Bunny hops (not the famous BMX drill) might have a cute name, but this full-body exercise is anything but. To do the move, start with your hands on the mat and balance on the balls of your feet, then with your legs together, kick your legs up and hop to one side. Once you land, hop straight over to the other side.

And the best part? You don't need gym equipment like the best kettlebells or machines to do it. I put aside seven minutes in my schedule each day for one week to take the bunny by the ears and hop to it — here’s what happened.

How to do bunny hops

Here’s how to nail the bunny hops exercise:

  • Start with your hands placed on the mat in front of you and rest on the balls of your feet with knees bent and legs together
  • Engage your core, then push through your hands and feet and keep your weight over your shoulders as you jump both feet to one side
  • Land onto the balls of your feet with your knees bent, then immediately hop to the other side.

Try to land on either side of your mat each time, moving laterally. There are a few variations worth considering if you plan to give this a go. I pivoted to include two of my favorite bunny hops exercise variations throughout the week.

To do the forward traveling bunny hop (as below) start in the same position as above but with feet shoulder-width apart, then step both hands further in front of you and jump both feet to land in a deep squat on either side of your hands. Keep your back flat and abs engaged as you continue to make your way forward.

I did the 7-minute bunny hops exercise every day for a week — 5 things that happened 

It was hard work

The first physical sensation I noticed was how tough it felt on my muscles, which I wasn’t expecting. Bunny hops tap into quadrupedalism, which, despite the technical name, just means moving around and weight-bearing on four limbs. It’s a popular method used by animal flow instructors for building functional strength and improving mobility.

Any animal that uses four legs for locomotion is quadruped. As a human, I’m not primed to be moving around on all fours, so it undoubtedly took some getting used to. To start, I focused on lateral bunny hops, which involved sticking to my yoga mat and moving from side to side. I then progressed to “traditional” bunny hops, jumping forward as far as my apartment would allow.

I broke it down into 7 sets of 60 seconds, resting briefly between sets and counting my reps on the first round to stay consistent for the remaining sets. Just 30 seconds in, I was puffed out, and my shoulders and legs were on fire. 

My legs and shoulders fired up

Bunny hops are explosive and develop power in your lower body, which is why the bodyweight exercise can feel exhausting. The hopping move packs plenty of health benefits though, helping you build time in a squat position, increasing core stability and explosive leg strength and hitting most of the major muscle groups. 

During bunny hops, I felt my hip flexors, glutes, legs, lower back, various core muscles, shoulders, arms and chest switch on. Lateral bunny hops also engaged my obliques (core muscles that run down the waist) through a gentle side-to-side movement. Weight-bearing on my arms and shoulders fired these muscle groups up the most, and the repetitive and explosive pushing movement — known as plyometrics — generated by my legs got them working darn hard for seven minutes a day.

I found lateral hops the worst

Side-to-side movement feels more difficult for me than traveling forward, and because I have limited space in my apartment, the lateral bunny hops became my go-to during the week. I also experienced better 360-core activation this way, and my outer glutes (the gluteus medius) felt more switched on. I still included several rounds of traveling bunny hops to keep my muscles guessing and focus on squat depth, but they’re harder to navigate in a city space, complete with an excitable dog and my boyfriend. 

60 seconds feels like forever

60-second sets can be brutal. Whenever a workout format adopts a minute-long working set with minimal rest, I curse the exercise gods, then promptly forget my own personal hell and program them for clients. 

Bunny hops require full-body muscle activation and pace, forcing your mind and body to work together and testing coordination and agility. The hopping motion also ramps your heart rate, which could help burn calories. Compared with isolation exercises like leg curls, compound exercises that recruit more than one muscle group during movement require more energy, burn more calories and build functional strength. 

That said, bunny hops are best programmed alongside strength and conditioning exercises if your goal is to burn calories, as you’re highly unlikely to smash through hundreds of calories using them alone. But this experiment wasn’t about that, and calorie burn wasn’t on my radar. However, my heart rate soared after seven 60-second sets, and I felt out of breath after each round. After a week, I was glad it was over.

It helped open up my lower body

Bunny hops are brilliant additions to warm-ups for high-intensity exercise, sports-based activities, gymnastics and classes like CrossFit due to their capacity to increase your heart rate, warm the muscles and improve mobility. This experiment has inspired me to use them more often for personal workouts and working with others.

The maintained deep squat position helped open my hips and increase hamstring flexibility, and my lower body felt more open and mobile afterward. And not just straight after either, as I maintained some suppleness throughout the day, which helped me warm up more quickly going into an exercise session, further helped by continuing them every morning throughout the week.

Whenever a workout format adopts a minute-long working set with minimal rest, I curse the exercise gods, then promptly forget my own personal hell and program them for clients.

If you’re a runner or sprinter, the powerful jumping motion produced by the legs makes it a great option if you’re looking to try a new sport-specific exercise. Fancy more animal-themed exercises? We’ve got plenty more tried and tested fitness challenges below.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.