Bench Exercises: Lateral Jump Overs

One of the most basic bench exercises is the lateral jump over. This simple exercise requires only your bench and can be performed without much instruction. However, you should only attempt the lateral jump over if you’ve got strong knees and you’ve successfully completed a series of the less-intensive barrier lateral jump overs. This is because the bench starts at a few inches higher off the ground than most barriers.

The Targeted Muscles

The lateral jump over is one of the bench exercises that primarily serves as an aerobic exercise instead of a strength-training or muscle-toning exercise. This means that the lateral jump over serves as an excellent way to get your heart rate pumping, get blood moving and increase the rate of oxygen to your muscles. Nevertheless, the muscles in your legs and potentially your arms will also get a workout.

The Exercise Basics

You should place your bench on a hard, sturdy surface, preferably with a bit of shock absorption, such as a gym mat or a smooth area of grass. You should begin these bench exercises with your bench set at its lowest height and work your way up to greater heights (assuming the bench is adjustable).

  1. Place the bench down vertically. You’ll be jumping over the shorter height, not the longer length, of the bench.
  2. Stand approximately three to five inches from the bench on one side. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet only about one to two inches apart. You should be standing parallel to the bench, not facing the bench.
  3. Jump over the bench, lifting both feet at once. Bend your knees as much as necessary and make sure your knees are comfortably bent as you land in order to absorb the impact.
  4. Repeat the process by jumping back to the other side. Do so as quickly as you can safely make the jump.
  5. Repeat this back and forth action for five to ten reps and one to two sets.

Safety Tips

Avoid performing these bench exercises on carpeted or slippery areas. Wearing high-impact athletic shoes will make the jumps less strenuous on your joints. You should jump quickly in order to get your heart rate going, but only go as quickly as you can without losing your balance. Start slowly in order to gauge the appropriate tempo at which you can safely jump back and forth.

Adding More Challenge to the Process

As with all bench exercises, you should start your lateral jump over routine simply with minimal height on the bench and minimal speed in order to get used to the routine and build endurance. Once you’ve gotten used to a tempo, you can make the exercise additionally challenging by moving at a faster tempo. You can also start adding more reps and sets to your routine, but be sure to make the addition gradually.

Another way to make the exercise more challenging is to work out your arms at the same time. Hold both hands in fists at your sides. With each jump, swing the arms up and down, up on the jump and down on the landing.


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