Jumping jacks put numerous muscles in your body to work, including your thighs. The simple yet effective move is a top choice for fitness coach and author Dan John. John recommends jumping jacks primarily as a form of cardiovascular exercise. This type of exercise will help your body burn fat. All that jumping will also improve the strength of several muscles, including your quadriceps and hip adductors.
Your thighs are made up of several different muscles. These include the quadriceps, hamstrings and hip adductors. The quadriceps muscles are located on the front of your thighs, while your hamstrings run along the back. Hip adductors are the muscles that run along your inner thighs.
Adding jumping jacks to your workout will benefit your body in several ways. The motion of bringing your legs together and apart targets your hip adductors. Pushing off the ground to jump engages your quadriceps. Along with toning these key thigh muscles, jumping jacks will also get your heart pumping and help your body burn more calories. As an added bonus, doing jumping jacks will also tone the muscles in your upper arms and shoulders.
Jumping Jacks Workout
You can do jumping jacks almost anywhere. You don't need special equipment or a lot of space. Start with your feet about 6 inches apart and your arms at your sides. As you jump up, spread your legs out to each side slightly wider than shoulder width. Simultaneously bring your arms straight up above your head. As you jump again, bring your legs back together and arms back down to your sides. John recommends doing jumping jacks in a pyramid-style workout. Do as many jumping jacks as you can in 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do as many as you can in 20 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds. Finally do as many as you can in 30 seconds. Then work your way back down from 30 to 10. Repeat this series three times.
For a more intense thigh workout, consider adding in other strength-training moves between each set of jumping jacks, such as squats or lunges. Do two or three sets of one strengthening move with up to 12 reps in each set. Then do a set of jumping jacks and move on to the next strengthening exercise. If the impact of jumping on your joints is a concern, take your jumping jacks to the pool. The water will reduce the impact, but it will also provide added resistance to make your leg muscles work harder. Consult your doctor before beginning any new workout routine.
Elizabeth Peterson has been a reporter since 2005, working in television, radio and online. Specializing in health and environmental coverage, she has contributed to MSNBC and several local affiliates. Peterson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.