Looking for a bodyweight movement that helps burn fat, stretch out tight muscles and support all-round cardiovascular health?
Seal jacks could be the answer…
You’ve likely heard of a jumping jack or star jump; where you jump your legs outward whilst simultaneously raising your hands vertically above your head. An exercise you’ve no doubt been familiar with from physical education classes at a young age!
A seal jack is a variation of this exercise where your arms are brought together in front of your chest, instead of over your head. As well as being a great way to warm-up for a bigger workout, the exercise builds strength and flexibility in key muscle groups in both the upper body and hips – more about this later!
First let’s get to grips with how to perform this great, fast-paced exercise to get your blood pumping.
How to do Seal Jacks
To perform the seal jacks exercise;
- Step 1. Begin with your legs together, aligned below your hips and your arms stretched out in front of chest, palms together.
- Step 2. Jump in an explosive movement, so that your legs spread wide, whilst simultaneously bringing your arms out wide to either side of your body.
- Step 3. Immediately jump back to the starting position. Allow your hands clap together as you return to the starting position- like a seal!
- Step 4. Repeat the jumping movement for 10 to 20 reps with a pause in between each set.
Seal Jacks Variations and Modification
The movement is easy to adapt and modify, depending on your fitness level and goals. Some ways you can add variation include;
Adapt the Pace
To slow the pace, try stepping one leg out to the side, rather than jumping with both legs, as you bring your arms out wide. Alternate each leg with each rep.
To quicken the pace, try counting how many seal jacks you can achieve within a given time interval (1minute is a great starting point), rather than counting repetitions.
Increase the challenge
Hold dumbbells in each hand as you perform the movement to increase the strength required from your muscles. Of course you won’t be able to clap like a seal but that’s okay!
Some prefer to perform this exercise by beginning with their legs aligned below the hips and arms out wide on either side of the body. As you jump, you spread your legs whilst bringing your arms in front of your chest (the difference being that your arms are together, when your legs are wide, rather than arms together when your legs are together, and vice versa).
Either starting position exercises the same muscle groups with the same benefits so try experimenting with each to see which your body naturally seems to prefer. Speaking of which, let’s discuss those all important benefits!
Benefits of Seal Jacks Exercise
Seal jacks pack a punch when it comes to benefits, including;
Seal jacks are a total body exercise, with fast-paced movements that raise your core body temperature and make it a great way to improve cardiovascular health. The movement can be incorporated in a HIIT workout, for example.
The explosive jumping movements ensures you are burning calories, which can contribute healthy weight loss.
Increase blood flow and heart rate
With the increased blood-flow round the entire body and raised heart rate, seal jacks are a perfect choice for a stand-alone exercise to limber up or as a warm-up for a longer and more intense work-out.
Opens-up upper body
Spreading your arms out wide and back together is a great way to open-up the muscles in your upper body building strength and flexibility in your chest and shoulders.
The jumping movement keeps your hips active and loose to help improve flexibility.
Activates core muscles
Maintaining your posture during the jumps puts your core to work too, building strength and balance.
Strengthens leg muscles
Your calves, hamstrings and quads are all put to work when performing a seal jack. Each of these muscles will strengthen as you begin to increase repetitions, sets or time.
Seal Jacks Vs Jumping Jacks
A seal jack is a variation of the more common jumping jack exercise. It involves bringing your arms together in front of your chest, instead of over your head. This movement helps to stretch out the chest and upper back/shoulders more than jumping jacks do, and also helps to improve shoulder range of motion.
Both seal jacks and jumping jacks involve a “jump” so provide similar benefits when it comes to cardiovascular health and the ability to burn fat.
There’s no reason why you couldn’t include both seal jacks and jumping jacks into the same workout, by bringing your arms out to the side first, followed by bringing them together in front of your chest.
Seal Jack Exercise Workout
With no equipment needed, you can be ready to try this fun, energetic exercise right-away. As always, take caution if this is your first try with a seal jack, so as not to lose your balance or over-do it. It’s always better to start small with repetitions and build up slowly. Whatever your pace, embrace those seal-like claps as you get that blood-pumping and enjoy it!
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