If you want to make your workouts more efficient, hop to it. Though pro fighters have been jumping rope for decades, CrossFit’s introduction of the ‘double-under’ has given jumping rope some new attention in recent years. Here’s why it’s worth doing—and how to add it to your own routine.
Why Jumping Rope Works
“People are always looking for training methods that will give them the most bang for their buck, and jumping rope does just that,” says Wyatt Krueger, CF-L2, CrossFit coach and box owner.
Jumping rope engages almost every major muscle in the body—something few other forms of cardiovascular exercises can boast. “It’s a true full-body exercise with numerous ways to vary the difficulty,” says L.A.-based trainer Seth Broadstreet.
Your quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves all light up to power every jump. Meanwhile, all of the muscles of your core provide stabilization, while your shoulders, arms, and wrists control the speed of the swing.
Because it gets so many muscles working at the same time, jumping rope puts a greater burden on your cardiovascular system. The result: You burn more calories per minute than you would, say, riding the stationary bike. According to Harvard Medical School, the average 155-pound person burns 372 calories in a half hour of jumping rope.
Plus, with every jump and swing of the rope, you’re also working on balance, coordination, and body awareness, says Krueger.
Another perk of jumping rope: It’s versatile and scalable. “It can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it,” says Broadstreet. Once you’ve mastered the basic approaches, you can move onto double-unders, high knees, or even jump rope burpees.
How To Add Jumping Rope to Your Routine
Whether you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school or have already mastered the infamous double-under, there are a number of ways it can level up your workouts.
1. Use It As A Warm-Up
Whether you’re about to push through a few heavy rounds of squats or breeze through a quick circuit, jump roping is a good way to get started. Doing five to 10 minutes of light, easy jumping gets your blood pumping and warms up your muscles before the real work begins,
2. Replace Your Run
“Studies have shown that jumping rope can provide the exact same cardiovascular benefits as jogging in less than half the time,” says Broadstreet.
Not to mention, jumping rope is kinder to your joints. “You’re using your knees and hips to jump, but it’s far less damaging to the joints than running,” adds Broadstreet.
Rather than pound the pavement (or the treadmill) for 45 minutes, you can reap the full benefits of jumping rope in 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re just starting out, stick to a slower pace and alternate between sets of 10 to 50 repetitions and 10 to 15 seconds of rest.
If you’re already a cardio pro and want to continue developing your aerobic fitness and endurance, jump for 15 to 20 minutes, alternating between two- to five-minute intervals of jumping and 10 to 15 seconds of rest, suggests Krueger. As you progress, add to the length of your jumping intervals and total jumping time.
3. HIIT It Up
According to research recently published in Physiology, just four 30-second sprints elicit the same response in the body as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio. And ‘sprinting’ doesn’t have to mean running down a track; jumping your heart out will do the trick, too.
For a HIIT-style jump rope workout, jump for 10, 20, or 30 seconds at a difficult speed, rest for 10 to 15 seconds, and repeat for 10 to 15 minutes suggests Krueger. Or, add 30 to 60 seconds of jumping rope in between exercises of a strength-training circuit.