Of all the fitness equipment I own; medicine balls, kettlebells, suspension trainers, bands, battling ropes, and sandbags, my jump rope is my favorite.
It’s the least fancy of them all, the simplest to use, and the cheapest to own. For $8 I can get an incredible workout that involves most of the major muscle groups in my body. Here is the one I use personally.
I use it frequently with my clients as well and those who thought a jump rope workout was easy were proved wrong pretty damn quickly.
After almost 18 years as a fitness coach, I can tell you that if you aren’t already using a jump rope as part of your training, you’re missing out on one the best exercises you can do.
Why Jump Rope?
If you haven’t used a jump rope in decades (and many of you haven’t), the first thing that comes to mind might be something like this:
But after spending 5 minutes trying to do it, you realize it’s more like this:
A short jump rope workout is hard. Really fucking hard. So don’t be fooled by images of little girls double dutching and making it look like a kiddie game. Believe me, it will kick your ass! I use it 2-3 times per week in my own routine and it still wipes me out.
The reason is that is forces your mind and body to work together lest you miss and hit yourself with it. If you aren’t familiar with jump rope welts, you will be soon. It also places a high demand on your heart and cardiovascular function and takes concentration and focus.
Here are some other benefits, ALL of which you want:
- Great for endurance and stamina
- Helps burn fat
- Improves muscular endurance
- Improves speed, quickness, and agility
- Increases ankle stability
- Works multiple muscle groups
- Improves athleticism
- Help improve balance and coordination
- Make you focus on proper breathing
- Increases bone density
There are all HUGE benefits, especially for guys pushing 40 and beyond. Also, it burns upwards of 130 calories per 10 minutes, so it’s really efficient as well. It’s actually bout 3 times as efficient as jogging, so for all you guys who are time crunched, this is a great solution.
How To Jump Rope
Don’t feel like a fool if you have either forgotten or never learned how to jump rope. Like with anything, it’s a learned skill and for some, it’s really a challenge. The reason being is that it takes quite a bit of coordination, which many guys don’t possess.
But with some patience and willingness to mark up your shins and back (and the occasional head shot) with red welts, you can learn it. Just a few years ago, I sucked at jumping rope and although I am far from an expert, I can skip rope for upwards of 10 minutes straight and still have enough stamina to hit the weights.
It all comes down to a few basic rules:
- Find the right length rope. A 9 foot rope is good for guys 5’8-6’2.
- Practice bouncing on your toes. Coming down with your full weight each time will kill your knees, so try to be as light on your toes as you can. Easier said than done for many though.
- Keep your hands by your waist and don’t move them. Use small circles, it’s all in the wrists.
- Maintain a neutral posture.
- Just focus on the timing, rhythm, your breathing, and landing softly.
And forget all the fancy tricks until you learn the basics or you will end up looking like this:
So to get you started, here are 6 videos that will show you the progression to follow. Just practice each one until you are proficient at it (i.e. you aren’t hitting yourself constantly and you aren’t out of breath after 30 seconds).
1 Foot Alternating
Double Unders (yea I was tired by then…)
None of these are terribly difficult, but resist the urge to try some more advanced jumps. Remember, the rope hurts like a mf’er, so be warned.
How To Add a Jump Rope Workout To Your Current Program
First off, if you’re not doing some sort of HIIT/interval/circuit style training to supplement your weight training, you need to be. Weight training is critical to your fitness program, but so is cardio based exercise.
Secondly, using a jump rope workout is extremely time efficient and burns calories at a very high rate (if done properly). I suggest adding 1-2 sessions per week to get started and work up from there.
Just make sure you do some light stretching before hand, use a foam roller on your hamstrings and calves, and possibly even a general warm up first.
Here are a few sample workouts for you to try:
- 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. Do 6 rounds with a 60 second break between rounds.
- 60 seconds on/30 seconds off. Do 8 rounds with a 45 second break between rounds.
- 2 minutes on/30 seconds off. Do 5 rounds with a 45 second break between rounds.
- 100 consecutive jumps. Rest 20 seconds and repeat 10 times. To make this more fun, start over if you miss one…
Keep in mind that this can be a high impact exercise (depending on how hard you land) and can take a toll on your knees and ankles. Therefore, I don’t recommend jumping rope for those with past/present lower body/back injuries, severe imbalances, or anyone with heart conditions or issues.
And if you’re significantly overweight or obese, it’s best to stick to low impact/non weight bearing exercises for now. Things like the elliptical, rowing machine, swimming, or stationary bike will do just fine.
Also, try to avoid any non giving surfaces like concrete and instead try to use a hardwood floor, artificial turf, rubber flooring, or a track. You’ll thank me.
Beast Mode Jump Rope Workouts
But if you’re anything like me, you’ll get bored quickly and want to do some high flying, fancy trick shit that looks and sounds bad ass (that rope whipping around your head at 60 mph is a pretty cool sound)!
The following workouts are not for the faint of heart and will take a great deal of practice (among other things). At least they’re fun to watch..
This is a video I found a few years ago and Ross Enamait is a beast! I still watch it for motivation although I can’t even come close to the speed and ability he has. Actually, I’m not even sure he’s holding a rope as it’s moving too fast to see!!
And just for fun, watch this dude and prepare for your head to explode!!
One last thing: While jumping rope is an awesome tool for your health and fitness related goals, make sure you incorporate other types of cardio based training as well. Mix things up. Run hills, sprints, drag heavy tires, or push sleds.
And oh yes, have fun with it! If you hate jumping rope, don’t do it. There are plenty of other great exercises you can use instead!
Awesome! Wow…….. What is a good brand/type to buy…Im about 5’5″ so I think I will need an 8′ rope but there are many of them?
Yea, David, get an 8 foot rope. I prefer the inexpensive ones like this one, and don’t like rope ones, the segmented plastic ones, or the real speed ropes. The one I linked to is dirt cheap and has a good weight to it, so it’s fast.
Speaking of “Beast Mode” jump-rope workouts — last year at the elementary school where I work, where I am always on the lookout for more ways to challenge (some might say “hurt,” but that’s really not the goal; really, it’s not) the kids, we started jumping rope with the big, heavy tug-o-war rope. The rope was one of those 1-1/2 or 2-inch diameter ropes like we used to climb, or fail to climb, in gym class back in the day, and about fifteen feet long.
Just getting the rope to spin is a major workout for the people at each end of the rope. The rope moves fairly slowly, but it has a lot of momentum. The kind of momentum that can knock a kid, or and adult for that matter, flying! A head shot with the big rope is nothing to laugh at.
Unless you’re a kid! Needless to say, the students LOVED it! The rope would knock them down, and they’d get back up laughing! So yeah, the next time you’re working out with a couple of your buddies, grab the tow-rope out of the toolbox in the back of your Jeep and try jumping rope with it!
On the opposite end of the jump-rope spectrum, just today we tried jumping rope with a piece of string! We had taken apart an old, tattered baseball in class — it was a lesson designed to instill a sense of curiosity in the kids, or at least that’s my claim — and by recess time we had a big pile of thick gray string. As we stretched the string out along the sidewalk, in the rain, to see how long it was, one of the kids started jumping over it. Pretty soon we were trying to get it to spin, and #BOOM! Makeshift jumprope! Within minutes we had kids from two other classes joining us.
That’s the kind of stuff I’m going to miss about teaching.
I’m sure there a lot of great things about your job, but if it’s not your calling, then you have to find what is. Hopefully you’ll incorporate some jump rope into your routine when you get started again..