Pop quiz: what is a better exercise, jump squats or squats?
This depends on a lot of things. First, are we talking weighted or unweighted versions? Do you want to lose fat, build muscle, or increase power?
So let’s tackle each of these issues:
Weighted Jump Squats vs Weight Squats
Weighted squats are one of the best mass builder exercises around. The movement is also a staple amongst those looking to build pure strength. It can also be used as an effective conditioning and fat burning movement.
Finally, the exercise build up your core strength to be able to handle heavy weights.
Regular weighted squats carry many benefits, so clearly weighted squat jumps should carry the same benefits.
Weight squat jumps overall are quite dangerous. Think about it: the squat is a highly technical exercise. People screw up their back and knees with the basic squat due to bad form. Now add momentum to the mix and you’ve increased your chances of injury.
Final consensus: if you’re going to do jump squats, do the unweighted version. You can, however hold an object in your hand such as dumbbells or a medicine ball. These should be done relatively light.
Bodyweight Squats Jumps vs Bodyweight Squats
In the previous section, we concluded that the unweighted squat jump is safer then weighted squat jump. What about the unweighted squat jump vs bodyweight squat? Which is safer?
Generally, plyometric movements such as the squat jump carry with it some risk. You should have a basic level of strength before you even attempt squat jumps. In addition, if you’re obese then you should avoid plyometrics as they may put pressure on your knees and cause rapid wear and tear.
The following sections will help you determine the best variation based on your goals:
Squat Jumps for Fat Loss
Exercises with a high metabolic cost are the best for fat loss. Out of the three, squat jumps fit the bill. For pure fat loss, weighted squats may have have a decent metabolic cost, but will take time to learn how to perform properly.
Bodyweight squats have a decent metabolic cost, but only at high repetitions. Even the fittest athletes will start breathing heavy after 10-20 straight reps of squat jumps.
Squat Jumps for Power
Goes without saying that the squat jump is an amazing move for power. In addition, if you increase the power output of your muscles, you’ll improve on nearly every other exercise.
This makes the squat jump a great precursor for the weight squat. Any weighted movement will require a good set of fast-twitch muscle fibers to at least get the weight moving.
Bodyweight Squats for Muscle
Old-school Indian wrestlers were MASSIVE. Their two staple bodyweight exercises were the hindu pushup and hindu squat. I’ve personally removed hindu squats from my arsenal due to knee problems, but the regular bodyweight squat is still a crucial aspect of my muscle building workouts.
Although weighted squats are great for building muscle, I still prefer the bodyweight version for it’s convenience and short learning curve. The more repetitions you perform of the squat, the heavier your body will feel, hence you will, in some ways, doing a weighted squat.
Weighted Squats for Strength
If your goal is to build pure strength, then go with the weighted squat. Being a bodyweight training guy, I am biased towards calisthenics, but can’t deny the fact that you simply need to add weight if you want to get strong.
Now, there are other ways of increasing leg strength, such as the pistol squat. But the pistol squat requires much practice and is more of a “trick.” You need good balance, flexibility, and healthy knees to even attempt pistol squats.
Hope this clears up the debate between jump squats vs squats. Essentially, make sure to include both variations in your plan!