Burpees vs. Jumping Jacks

Woman doing jumping jacks

Burpees and jumping jacks are both cardiovascular moves that can amp up any workout. Both are convenient in that all they require are a little bit of space and your body. Burpees and jumping jacks are both considered to be plyometric movements because they require bursts of muscle power while jumping.

Jumping Jacks

To perform a jumping jack, start with feet hip-width apart and hands by your side. Jump your legs out while bringing your hands out to the side and up above your head. Reverse the move to complete one repetition. Jumping jacks can be made harder by adding a squat before the jump, which are known as squat jacks.


To perform a burpee, begin in the same position as a jumping jack. Move into a squat position, with hands touching the floor by your feet. Punch your feet back into a plank position, with hands directly under your shoulders. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up to complete one rep. Variations of the burpee include adding a jump while in the squat position or a pushup in the plank position.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers both burpees and jumping jacks to be forms of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. Both moves can become terrific total-body strengtheners when the advanced version is performed. Most importantly, since both of these moves require only your body and no special equipment, both can be done almost anywhere at any time, making them the ideal travel workout.


Burpees are much harder than jumping jacks because of the amount of muscles used in a burpee. Jumping jacks require only your leg muscles to hold you, while in a burpee you are using your legs in the squat as well as your arms to hold you in plank position. Burpees are a better muscle strengthener because they engage both upper- and lower-body muscles. Since more muscles are engaged during burpees, they also cause a greater calorie burn than a jumping jack as well as provide better overall body conditioning. According to the FitClick website, a 150-pound person could burn 612 calories an hour doing burpees, compared to 204 doing jumping jacks.