To me, a jump rope workout or skipping rope is one of the best types of aerobic exercise that you can do. It is a fantastic cardiovascular workout that also involves good coordination. The only equipment required is a jump rope and appropriate footwear. You can do it indoors or outdoors, rain or shine, winter or summer.
Why a Jump Rope Workout?
Jumping rope for 10 minutes is equivalent to running an eight-minute mile, swimming for 20 minutes or jogging for 30 minutes. What else other than a jump rope sells for under $20, tones muscles, improves cardiovascular fitness, can be used by the whole family and can even fit into a briefcase.
In my younger days, I would combine weight training with a jump rope workout. After I learned how to jump rope, I worked up to 30 minutes of rope skipping at a rate of about 120 jumps per minute. It would take me a little over an hour total for both aerobic and weight training and wow, what an incredible workout also with the many jump rope benefits.
Now in my old age, I have changed my routine a lot. I now use a combination of weight training with the Bowflex Home Gym and free weights. Then I do aerobic exercises alternating between my Elliptical machine, Treadmill, Indoor Cycle Trainer or Recumbent Exercise Bike and Stair Climber Machine. I still always leave time for at least 10 minutes of rope skipping. I still use the same rate, about 120 jumps per minute.
I have found that jumping rope is particularly effective when combined with other aerobic exercises. When combining weight training and aerobic exercises, always do the weight training first followed with your favorite types of aerobic exercises. Boxers use skipping rope exercises in their boxing training program to increase their stamina and coordination.
How many calories jumping rope? Calories burned jumping rope can be as much as 700 calories per hour. That is about 0.1 calories per jump. Some people use the jumping rope to lose weight. To achieve the best results with your jumping rope workout, you will need to be jumping at a rate of at least 90 to 110 jumps per minute.
You say What? How many jumps per minute? Well, don’t be alarmed. When I started, I got the rope tangled in my feet after 10 to 15 jumps. I was so happy when I could get up to 100 jumps without missing. It took a long time for me to get my rhythm and coordination down. However, I stuck with it and now I enjoy it and I don’t even think about what I am doing. Most people are more coordinated than I am.
The point is that the health benefits of jumping rope are so great that it is worth the effort to learn. Practice does make perfect.
Benefits of Jumping Rope
There are many jumping rope benefits, so I have listed the most important for your consideration;
- It is simple to learn as compared to many other athletic activities.
- Achieves a higher aerobic value is less time. Burns lots of calories in a short amount of time.
- Builds coordination and leg strength.
- Strengthens the arms and shoulders.
- Strengthens your core.
- Builds endurance.
- Works well combined with other forms of aerobic exercise.
- Can do indoors, rain or shine.
- Doesn’t require expensive equipment.
- You can watch TV while exercising.
Health Issues for your Jumping Rope Workout
As always, be sure to consult your doctor first to be sure you can withstand the impact and the high aerobic intensity of jumping rope. The jumping surface and a good pair of shoes are very important.
Knee damage is less likely with rope skipping as compared to running. The impact of each jump is absorbed by the balls of the feet instead of the heels as with running. Again, consult your doctor to be sure.
As always, be sure to warm up and stretch before and cool down after to avoid injuries.
With all of the types of aerobic exercise available today, rope skipping works best for me. I like running or jogging, however I have always had trouble with shin splints. I was concerned that shin splints would be a problem with jumping rope, but it never has. If you do have any problems with shin splints, stop and evaluate your technique. Always contact your doctor if any problem persists.
Required Equipment for your Jumping Rope Exercise Routine
Three things will be required to jump rope. First, the jump rope itself. Second is appropriate footwear. Third is the proper surface to jump on.
Over the years, I have tried many types of rope. This is what I have found;
- Cloth Jump Rope. These ropes work well in one way because they do not bounce on the floor as much as the beaded or speed
rope. In my experience, however, I have found cloth ropes too light for me to keep up the speed I like. These ropes do also wear out fast where the rope hits the floor. They are still very popular.
- Beaded Jump Rope. These consist of a nylon inner core covered with plastic or polyurethane 1.5 inch beads. These ropes spin very well and are very durable. With the beads, they do not tangle easily. This makes them good, especially for beginners. With the sound of the beads hitting the floor, it is easy to develop the rhythm required to jump continuously for a given period of time. This is my second choice in rope.
- Speed Jump Rope. These ropes are made from thin vinyl or ruber cord. I have used these and find them easy to spin. They do tangle easier than Beaded ropes. These ropes are very good for speed jumping and many boxers and other athletes use them because they allow much higher numbers of turns per minute. This is the kind of rope that I am currently using.
- Leather Jump Rope. These are made with leather rope usually with wooden handles. They are a little heavier than the beaded rope and a little thicker. They make less noise than the beaded rope however you will not be able to achieve the speed as with the Speed rope. I have used these with some success but they are not at the top of my list.
- Woven Jump Rope. These ropes are made of nylon, cotton or other fibers woven together. These ropes are for the beginner and I would not recommend for a regular jumping rope workout. These ropes are too light and spin slower that the other types of ropes.
- Kids Jump Rope. These ropes are designed for kids and are too short for adults. Even with kids, make sure the rope is long enough or they will miss too often and get discouraged.
The good news is that all jump ropes are inexpensive ranging from $5.00 up to $30.00. I am sure you can find more expensive ropes but that is just not necessary. $10.00 to $15.00 will get you a good beaded or speed rope.
The speed rope that I am using now has weighted handles. I am trying this weighted jump rope for the first time and I can tell that the weighted handles are strengthening my forearms much faster. This is working well for my short 10 minute sessions. I like but would not recommend starting with weighted handles.
Some Basic Guidelines for Jumping Rope
- The rope length is very important. Most ropes you will find are 9 foot long. You can buy longer if needed. The best way to determine your optimum rope length is to hold the handles and step on the rope in the middle. The handles should reach your armpits. If not, shorten the rope accordingly but only 1 inch at a time. I am 6 foot tall and a 9 foot rope works for me.
- You will need at least a 4 foot by 6 foot area to jump in.
- You will need at least 10 inches above your head for rope clearance.
- Do not jump on carpet, grass or concrete. Use an impact mat for exercising or jump on a wood floor or maybe a sheet of plywood. I jump on concrete but I use an impact mat.
- Jump just high enough to let the rope pass under your feet. Jumping only a few inches is all that is required.
- Don’t jump too high and land hard. This can be bad for the joints.
- Turn the rope with the wrists keeping the shoulders relaxed.
- Be sure to land on the balls of your feet. This will avoid knee injuries.
- Wear a quality pair of cross-training tennis shoes.
- Take your time and start slowly and increase slowly.
- When not in use, hang your rope from a hook. This will keep it from becoming tangled and kinked which could permanently damage it.
How to Start your Jump Rope Workout
If you have never jumped rope before, you will need to learn how and develop the necessary skill. At first your only goal will be to develop that skill, not to get any aerobic value from your session. Start slow, that is the goal.
For your first few sessions, try to go for just 10 to 20 seconds without tripping on the rope. Keep each interval short so you don’t become fatigued. Fatigue will cause you to miss even more. At first, keep your sessions to only about 10 minutes. Start with frequent, yet short jumping rope sessions.
As your skill level increases, you will soon be able to go 20 to 30 seconds without tripping. Then increase to 1 to 3 minute rounds. Rest for 1 minute between rounds.
Depending on your fitness level when you started, in just a few weeks (or maybe months as in my case) you will be able to settle into your regular jumping rope workout routine.
Take a look at this video I made showing you the proper basic jump rope technique:
Your Regular Jump Rope Workout Routine
As you settle into your regular jump rope workout routine, there are many ways you can incorporate it into your regular workout. You can combine it with other forms of aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, running or swimming. You can do weight training combined with your jump rope workouts.
Try different combinations and change it up frequently. This will keep exercising fun and exciting for you.
In my younger days, I would do weight training for 30 minutes using free weights or a weight machine. Then I would follow up with 30 minutes of jumping rope.
One reason for this was because I had not accumulated my various aerobic machines yet and this was a cheap way to keep fit. Over time, I accumulated various machines (Elliptical machine, Treadmill, Indoor Cycle Trainer or Upright Bike, Stair Climber Machine). As I did, I started to work these into my aerobic routine.
Now that I am older (senior citizen, uggg), I still do the 30 minutes of weight training. I now follow with 10 minutes of jumping rope along with 20 minutes of a mixture of my other aerobic machines. I do weight training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
On non-weight training nights, I have grown to really like using the recumbent exercise bike and jumping rope. I can still ride and watch TV.
Jumping Rope Styles
There are many styles of skipping rope that you can learn to do. For me, I mostly use the basic as described below. It is good however to change it up to keep it interesting and there are many different styles to choose from.
- Basic Jump – Feet slightly apart, jump with both feet at the same time, one jump per rope swing. This is the jump you should start with and become proficient at before trying others.
- Alternate Feet – Again, one jump per rope swing. Alternate feet with every rope swing. This is a more intense jump than the Basic.
- Basic Jump x 2 – Feet slightly apart, jump with both feet at the same time. This time, do two jumps per rope swing. You will have to slow down the rope speed to add the extra step. This will reduce the intensity from the Basic.
- Double Under – Feet slightly apart, jump with both feet at the same time. Jump higher and do one jump per every two rope swings. You will need to increase the rope speed. This increases the intensity. I like to add this for 15 seconds or so once or twice during my jumping session.
- Triple Under – Feet slightly apart, jump with both feet at the same time. Jump higher and do one jump per every three rope swings. You will need to increase the rope speed even more that with the double under. This is used often in competition.
- Criss-Cross – This is similar to the Basic except that while jumping you will move the left hand to the right part of the body and the right hand to the left part of the body. Your arms will be crossed in front of your body. On the next revolution, bring the hands back to the correct side of the body. This is kind of fun and really looks cool. You can work a few of these into your session.
- Side Swing – While doing the Basic style, let the rope pass the side of your body (either side). Then on the next swing, bring back to a normal jump. You can also alternate between sides.
- Running in Place – This is just running in place with the addition of a fast spinning rope. You will have to lift your knees higher and this one will have higher impact than the Basic jump. This jump is excellent for conditioning.
These are just a few of the many jump rope styles. You can combine styles in the same session to make it more challenging and interesting. You can also travel while jumping if you have enough room. You can move frontwards, then sideways (right), then backwards, then again sideways (left) to put you back where you started.
Mix it up to improve your coordination, agility and endurance.
Conclusion and Benefits of Skipping Rope
The health benefits of skipping rope are not to be denied. The calories burned jumping rope exceeds almost any other form of aerobic exercise. If you are healthy enough to try rope skipping as an addition to your exercise routine, you will be very satisfied with the results. For many years, I have enjoyed the health benefits I have received from jumping rope and you can too. You too can jump rope for heart health. Try it and I know you’ll like it. Learn how to jump rope now.