Dumbbell Squat Jump — How to, Muscles Worked, & Alternatives

dumbbell squat jump
Pump iron. Waist up of a strong man doing squats with dumbbells in his hands while training in the gym

Dumbbell squat jumps are an effective plyometric exercise for building explosive power in your legs. 

Strengthening your lower body is crucial, and squats are one of the most effective compound exercises for achieving this goal. They engage multiple leg muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads. Squats enhance your balance and movement and significantly improve the explosive force in your lower body (1).

A notably dynamic variation to try is the dumbbell squat jump. This exercise can be performed using barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or even your bodyweight, making it versatile. The addition of the jump introduces an explosive element, elevating the traditional squat’s intensity and effectiveness.

This article delves deep into the dumbbell squat jump, highlighting its significance for lower body strengthening and myriad benefits. Furthermore, it’ll offer intriguing alternatives for lower body enhancement and provide a step-by-step tutorial on executing the jump correctly.

Techniques & Muscles Worked

The dumbbell squat jump is a strength training exercise that works on the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads. It also strengthens core muscles, such as the abs and obliques, which act as stabilizers during performance.

Athletes can find the dumbbell squat jump effective for building, strengthening, and improving the explosive power of their lower body. This increases explosive power during workouts and improves stability and movement. The only equipment needed for this exercise is a pair of dumbbells and adequate space. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this exercise correctly.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold it in your arms side by side.
  2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, your back straight, chest out, and head forward. This is your starting position.
  3. Brace your core, and slowly lower yourself into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Ensure that you maintain stability with the dumbbells throughout. Pause for 3-4 seconds.
  4. Next, explode with straight hands as high as possible from the squat position by jumping upwards.
  5. Land on your feet, bending your knees to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat this motion for as many reps as you desire.


The dumbbell squat jump increases strength and explosive power through the lower body. This exercise also makes the movement of your body easier. Here are some benefits you get when you do the dumbbell squat jump.

Improves Athletic Performance

Performing the dumbbell squat jump builds and develops power in your lower body, which is critical for many athletes. These muscles assist with quick movements like running, sprinting, and jumping, so building them will enhance your athletic performance. This study shows how jumping squats improve athletic performance (2).

Builds Lower Body Muscle

Regularly performing the dumbbell squat jump builds and develops the lower body’s muscular strength. Putting your muscles under tension with the load from the dumbbell can also lead to increases in muscle hypertrophy. Your everyday movements and workouts will become more effective, too. 

Strengthens Your Core

Performing the dumbbell squat jump puts your core muscles, like the abs and obliques, under constant tension, strengthening them. Stronger core muscles lead to better body coordination and balance. This reduces your chance of injuries, making your training safer.

Carryover to Crossfit

CrossFit training requires speed and force to execute. The dumbbell squat jump improves and develops the explosive power of your legs, which is effective for CrossFit routines like power cleaning and power snatching

Improves Muscle Endurance

You can make this movement more endurance-based by using lighter weights and doing more reps. It’ll take your legs to complete exhaustion and improve your lower body muscle endurance.


The dumbbell squat jump is a plyometric exercise that, like other squats, is effective for building strength and power (3). However, to avoid hitting a plateau, not limiting yourself to this exercise is essential. Here are other lower-body muscle-building exercises you could use to get the most out of your workouts.

Box Jumps

The box jump is a plyometrics exercise targeting quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Performing box jumps also builds explosive power in your legs. All you need for this exercise is a sturdy box that can handle your weight.

Power Cleans

The power clean is an intensive, full-body movement that targets traps, glutes, core muscles, calves, back, shoulders, arms, and hamstrings. If you want to build strength and power in your body, the power clean is your exercise. All you require for this exercise is a barbell. However, it’s an advanced Olympic movement


Deadlifts are weight-training compound exercises that target the back, glutes, traps, core, and hamstrings. They effectively build muscle mass and strength. Different variations of this exercise offer multiple benefits, so check our exercise guides to find more.


Are dumbbell jump squats effective?

Yes, dumbbell squat jumps are effective for building lower body muscles. This improves power, strength, balance, and movement patterns. 

How to do a dumbbell squat jump?

Grab a pair of dumbbells in each hand and assume an athletic position with your knees slightly bent, back straight, and feet shoulder-width apart, then squat and jump explosively. For more extensive instructions, check the exercise guide above. 

What muscles do jump squats build?

Jump squats target your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads. During this routine, your core muscles, abs, and obliques also strengthen and act as stabilizing muscles. The only difference between jump squats and the dumbbell squat jump is using dumbbells.

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  1. Kubo, K., Ikebukuro, T., & Yata, H. (2019). Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes. European journal of applied physiology, 119(9), 1933–1942. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-019-04181-y
  2. Marián, V., Katarína, L., Dávid, O., Matúš, K., & Simon, W. (2016). Improved Maximum Strength, Vertical Jump and Sprint Performance after 8 Weeks of Jump Squat Training with Individualized Loads. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15(3), 492–500.
  3. Rhea, M. R., Kenn, J. G., & Dermody, B. M. (2009). Alterations in speed of squat movement and the use of accommodated resistance among college athletes training for power. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 23(9), 2645–2650. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b3e1b6
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.