Okay, hear me out: I’m not attracted to frogs, but I have to give credit where credit is due — they have great legs. Much more than a delicacy to eat, frogs are basically jacked little Ninja Turtles who look better in shorts. More importantly, they’re great examples of what jumping can do for our bodies.
One way we can all get more of what frogs have is through jump-training, or plyometric exercises often referred to as plyos. Athletes specifically rely on plyos to help improve their speed and agility, and develop fast-twitch muscle fibers through jumps that rapidly stretch and contract muscles in a way other workouts can’t. On top of that, this move is just a great way to burn calories, increase the range of motion in your hip and tone the lower half of your body.
Ultimately, plyos are called explosive exercises for good reason, but this intensity can be intimidating for many people working out at home. Frog jumps are a solid place to start, since most of us have known how to imitate frogs since we were kids. “Frog jumps are great in that they’re a plyometric exercise that activates a lot of large muscles, like your quads and glutes, but add a bit of cardio with the jumping motion,” says U.K.-based physiotherapist Alastair Kennett. “You can get a fantastic workout with just this exercise, combining leg day with cardio in one simple workout.”
Similar to a squat jump, frog jumps work parts of the lower body like the calves, hamstrings and hips, in addition to the aforementioned quads and glutes. A stabilized core and flat back is also required for proper form, so these muscles would be engaged as well. Certified personal trainer Joey Thurman compares frog jumps to sumo squats or a plié squat in ballet, but “it has an explosive component where you’re focusing on the concentric acceleration through the movement to leave the ground and a soft landing,” Thurman says. “For most people, turning the feet out will open up the stance and make it easier to get lower in the movement.”
In addition to keeping your feet turned out, maintaining a wide stance and ensuring that your knees and toes are pointed in the same direction is key for proper form, as well as landing lightly toes first, instead of on flat feet or heels. And because plyos are particularly hard on the joints, both experts agree that it’s important not to overdo it. Kennett recommends three sets of 10 hops each and working up from there. Even for more advanced jumpers, Thurman says to cap it around 150 hops a day, at a maximum 10 hops per set to prevent unnecessary strain. “Remember, these are meant to be explosive movements with max effort each rep,” Thurman adds.
When I tried three short sets of 10 hops each, I felt it instantly in my legs. Initially, they felt comparable to ski jumps, but as I was warned, it required more core strength. Mainly, the wider stance, combined with lowering all the way to touch the ground (i.e., ass to grass), made me so focused on my legs that my spine started to flop around like a noodle. I looked more like a sick fish than a powerful frog at first, but by the third set, I started to get the hang of it. And after about a week of incorporating this into different HIIT workouts, I started to suspect that maybe frogs weren’t saying ribbit all this time, and were instead mumbling about how ripped they are.
Again, I’m not saying that frogs are hot. But with legs like that, I could see why, perhaps, the occasional princess is okay with kissing them.