The jack press is like a two-in-one movement that helps to build up your cardio fitness, coordination, and maybe even your shoulder muscles a little too.
It combines the very popular jumping jack which is a calisthenics movement, with an overhead medicine ball press.
Learn how to do it with tips, variations, and more.
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: Total body
- Type: Cardio, overall fitness
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Medicine ball
- Difficulty: Beginner
Jack Press Muscles Worked
While this exercise isn’t the best muscle mass and strength builder, it still works several muscles.
If you want to build strong and muscular deltoids then you should be performing overhead press variations. Jack presses can utilize various levels of resistance to challenge primarily the anterior and lateral shoulder muscles that help to raise the arms up into an overhead press position.
A four bellied muscle group, the quadriceps are a squatting muscle which means the flexion of the hips and extension of the knees will activate these large anterior thigh muscles.
We said the quads are a squatting muscle group but so are hamstrings that reside just on the other side of the thigh. They have a responsibility to extend the hips and flex the knees.
Your booty muscles will get an intense workout from jack presses, stepping in to extend and externally rotate the thigh as you explode upward.
While it takes core strength to jack press, your abs and trunk muscles will get blasted by incorporating this movement into your training. Mainly, the deeper core muscles like the transverse abdominis engages to give yourself a solid base to perform the total body activity.
How To Do The Jack press
As with any exercise, there’s a right and wrong way to do it, especially if there’s a chance for injury. While the jack press is a rather simple exercise to perform, we’ve provided step-by-step instructions to ensure you do it correctly.
- Hold the medicine ball near your chest and place your feet close together.
- Simultaneously jump your feet out wider than shoulder-width and press the medicine ball directly overhead.
- Now, at the same time, jump your feet back to the starting position so they’re close together and bend your elbows to bring the medicine ball back down to chest level.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Here’s a video example…
Jack press tips
- Avoid jumping your feet too far apart from each other. There’s really no benefit to this and it can affect your ability to maintain good form.
- This may not be an ideal movement for those carrying extra weight due to the impact it has on the joints such as the knees and ankles.
- This isn’t a max lift exercise although you can use a heavier medicine ball to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
Benefits of The Jack Press
There are a few notable benefits to be had by doing this exercise.
Cardio is important for maintaining good health but it’s also a good way to burn calories which contributes to fat loss goals. Because you’re moving at a decent pace and using your entire body, this makes for a good calorie-burner and your heart will also benefit.
Maintain coordination, balance, and athleticism
There’s a lot of truth to the saying “use it or lose it” and this is certainly the case for your physical fitness and coordination. If able and your joints allow for it, movements that involve jumping and total-body motion help to maintain coordination, balance, and even athleticism.
Better muscle tone
Losing fat through cardio-focused activities helps to bring out more muscle tone especially if you do resistance training. Additionally, pressing a weighted medicine ball overhead will help to develop your shoulders, triceps, and core muscles.
Ever get bored with your workout routine? We all have at some point. Exercises such as the jack press using a medicine ball present a new challenge and offers all of the above benefits.
Jack Press Variations
While the jack press is a unique and beneficial exercise, there are a few variations that you can do to mix things up a little.
You could just do basic jumping jacks to get the cardio benefit without having to worry about pressing weight over your head.
Dumbbell jack press
If you don’t have a medicine ball, you can still use dumbbells or any similar weights that allow you to move freely.
This variation may be a little more challenging as you have to balance and maintain stability to press the dumbbells in each hand as you jump (unless you hold one dumbbell in two hands). But that’s why it’s a good idea to choose lighter weights to start with and then progress as needed.
Scissor jack and medicine ball press
Change things up with the scissor jack press. Rather than jumping your feet out laterally, you move them forward and backward past each other while pressing the medicine ball overhead.
How To Incorporate The Jack Press with a Medicine Ball Into Your Training Routine
There are many ways to include the jack press into your training routine. Here are a few that we think will work for you.
The jack press makes for an excellent exercise to include in supersets.
A superset is two exercises performed back to back for the purpose of keeping blood flowing, saving time, and more.
For example, you could do a set of push-ups and then hop (pun intended) right into the jack press. You’d rest a little and then do this again.
Circuit training is a great way to build muscle and improve your conditioning. You’ll choose a number of exercises and do them back to back with little to no rest in between.
Add the jack press in your circuit training regimes to mix things up and improve your fitness.
You could use the jack press to warm up your joints before getting into a workout. Do a few sets before a cardio or resistance training session.
Check out these useful warm-up movements.
The jack press makes for an excellent finisher regardless of the routine that came before it. You could set a timer and do it to help you improve your cardio and burn calories.
The jack press is a useful exercise that helps improve cardio, burn calories, enhance coordination and balance and maintain physical fitness.
It’s not a mass or strength builder but, like many exercises, has its place in a training routine. And as you can see, there are a few variations you can use to mix things up and there are different ways to incorporate it into your training regime.