While they may not have the same cachet as the box jump or the plyo push-up, the tuck jump — aka jumping knee tucks — can help you bust through a fitness plateau, dominate your next pick-up game, or just spice up your typical gym routine.
“The tuck jump is a plyometric exercise, so it can help you build explosive power,” says Trevor Thieme, Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content.
Incorporating a dynamic movement like the tuck jump into a circuit-training workout may help you improve your jump shot, tennis game, or even your 5K time.
And because the tuck jump exercise targets the body’s type II muscle fibers, tuck jumps can also fine-tune your agility and build butt- and leg-defining muscles.
But before getting started, learning how to do a tuck jump properly is important for maximizing the tuck jump’s benefits and minimizing your chance of injury.
How to Do a Tuck Jump
“The key to performing the tuck jump properly is to really drive your knees up when you jump,” says Thieme. “A lot of people only bring them to hip level. You want to tuck your knees as far toward your chest as possible.”
And, like with most plyo moves, to keep your knee, hip, and ankle joints safe, it’s crucial that you land softly.
“Don’t land with locked knees — land softly with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact,” says Thieme.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift your fully extended arms, palms down, to chest height.
Bend your knees in a quarter squat and, exploding off the balls of your feet, jump straight up in the air.
As you jump, pull your knees up toward your chest. Try to touch your knees to your palms.
Land softly with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
Tuck Jump Variations
Mastered the tuck jump and ready to take things up a notch? Luckily, there are plenty of tuck jump exercise variations. Here are a few to try:
Jump lunge with tuck
“My favorite variation on the tuck jump is the jump lunge with tuck,” says Thieme. “Jump up from a lunge position, bringing your knees to your chest before landing with your opposite leg forward.”
Burpee tuck jump
Perform a burpee as usual, but instead of doing a small hop and overhead clap, finish the movement with a tuck jump.
Plank tuck jump
Start in a plank position with your palms and the balls of your feet pressed against the ground.
Without moving your hands, jump your feet forward, driving your knees toward your chest.
Land on the balls of your feet (they should be directly underneath your butt). Jump back to plank position.
What Can I Do Instead of a Tuck Jump?
The tuck jump is a fairly simple movement, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Depending on your current level of fitness and injury history, tuck jumps and other plyometric exercises may not be the best exercise options for you.
“If you’re overweight or suffer from joint pain, injury, or stiffness, you should steer clear of plyometric exercises like the tuck jump, which are high impact, and thus can increase your risk of injury or exacerbate existing ones,” Thieme says.
After getting clearance from your doctor, work on building your core and lower-body strength with movements like squats, lunges, and step-ups.
“If you’re fit enough to perform plyometric exercises, but find the tuck jump too challenging, you can start with easier plyometric moves, such as the squat jump,” Thieme says. You can also try the plank tuck jump, jumping lunges, star jumps, and long jumps.
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