If you think jumping rope is just for the playground, then you’ve never been a part of a hardcore double Dutch competition. With the fast footwork, core stability, arm movements and overall coordination, jumping rope is one of the most impressive workouts you can do. Not to mention it’s a whole lot of fun.
Why jumping rope is a great workout
You might be wondering how a rope with handles is such a great workout. But the fact is jumping rope is one of the best exercises for your body and mind. Fitness celebrity and personal trainer Jason Kozma says it’s actually hard to find another cardio exercise that burns more calories than jump rope. “Even if you’re jumping at a moderate rate, you burn 10 to 16 calories a minute,” he tells SheKnows.
And if you have any minor aches and pains in your joints, you’re in luck. Kozma says you still get the benefit of increasing bone density when you jump rope, but it is easier on your joints than running because both legs absorb the impact of each jump.
How to incorporate jumping rope into your workout
What makes a jump rope such a smart fitness tool is the fact that you can incorporate it into any workout. Certified personal trainer Lyuda Bouzinova of Mission Lean recommends using it as your cardio warm-up at the beginning of a workout as well as interspersing it into your high-intensity interval training to raise your heart rate.
For example, Bouzinova tells SheKnows that you can do one minute of jumping rope and then go into a plank (or any other move) for a minute, and you will burn more calories during the plank because your heart rate will now be elevated.
Another way to add in the rope is to make it part of your rest period. If you’re doing a strength-training workout and you typically rest for two minutes between sets, Bouzinova suggests grabbing a jump rope and busting out one minute of cardio. This allows you to get your heart rate up and still have one minute to rest, she explains.
Tips for a heart-pumping workout
There are some things to consider before you start pounding out those double jumps. For example, certified strength and conditioning specialist and Pilates instructor Patrea Aeschliman of 15 to FIT tells SheKnows that we should be conscious of the fact that jumping rope can make your calves debilitatingly sore if you overdo it in your first few sessions.
You also need to pay attention to the surface you’re jumping on. “If you have any kind of lower-extremity injuries or back problems, I would recommend either a low-impact activity or at the very least jumping on a suspended floor, such as an aerobics floor at a gym or hardwoods at your house,” Aeschliman explains. Additionally, she recommends covering the wood with a yoga mat or jumping on top of a rug so you don’t scratch your home floors.
Finally, Kozma says to consider jumping rope on your off days, which is fantastic for recovery. “It boosts your blood flow and helps repair broken-down tissue,” he says.
Sample jump rope exercises
You don’t have to mad skills like Rocky Balboa in order to get an amazing workout. In fact, starting with the basic moves may be your best option. Here, the experts share some of their favorite jump rope exercises and workouts that will make you forget you’re working out.
But before we jump into a few workouts, let’s go over some basic moves. Bouzinova likes to start with these four simple jumps.
- Regular jumps: Just skip how you normally would. “This is a great way to start out your jump rope workout and get the hang of skipping before moving on to more complex moves,” she says.
- Side-to-side jumps: Jump a few inches to your right and then a few inches to your left while keeping your feet glued together as though you have one leg, and keep repeating. “This takes the challenge level up a notch,” Bouzinova notes.
- Jumping jack jumps: Start with your feet together and then jump out with your feet as you would when performing a jumping jack. Bring your feet back together and repeat.
- Backward jump: This is the same as the regular jump, but move the jump rope in the opposite direction (backward).
Here are two of Kozma’s go-to jump rope tips that make a great workout:
- Try to get as many jumps as possible in 30 seconds, then rest 30 to 90 seconds, then repeat for five to 10 cycles. The rest period will depend on your fitness level, but Kozma recommends sticking with a specific amount of time (for example, 30 seconds of rest). The goal is to keep your heart rate high and feel the burn in your lungs, your shoulders and your core.
- For something light and fun, you can also pick a song that lasts three to five minutes and jump until it is over.
Aeschliman recommends starting with intervals. “Do your best to complete a full minute of jumping without breaks, then a little side-to-side weight shifting 'pony' for you '80s aerobics fans,” she explains. Here is an example of a jump rope interval workout:
- Do one minute of regular jumping, then switch to one minute of side-to-side.
- Repeat this interval series eight to 10 times.
“A full minute of jumping is not just strenuous but takes some coordination to keep the rope going,” she adds. Her tip: Keep it up, as you will improve rapidly in the first few weeks and possibly even in your first session.
So, the next time you're looking for some variety in your workout, pick up a jump rope and get hopping.