“Is jumping rope a good exercise?” Hell yeah it is! I thought you’d never ask…
I started adding jump rope intervals into my exercise routine about 6 months ago. Jump ropes are cheap, lightweight, and easy to travel with. If the last time you did any skipping rope was during recess in grade school it might be a little tricky get started. But with a tiny bit of practice (I promise, it doesn’t take long) you’ll have a new technique to add to your exercise arsenal. You’ll also be getting a great cardiovascular and muscular workout.
I’ve outlined the basics for you in this article. At the end you’ll find a beginner jump rope workout. It’s not a “beginner” workout because it’s easy. (Beware: you’ll probably get your @$$ kicked any time you do a full jump rope routine.) It is a beginner jump rope workout in the sense that it only has 2 different types of jumping in easy-to-follow intervals. Once you master this one, the sky’s the limit!
What are the benefits of jumping rope?
- Like any cardiovascular exercise, jumping rope is good for your heart.
- It burns lots of calories. According to WebMD.com’s Fit-O-Meter, in 15 minutes I would burn 43 more calories jumping rope than I would jogging. If I were to jump rope for an hour (No freakin’ way would I do that…) I would burn approximately 577 calories. That’s a lot and it’s because jumping rope is really challenging.
- Jumping rope strengthens your butt, shoulders, arms, and legs.
- When done with proper form, jumping rope is lower-impact than running. (More on form later…)
But I don’t have a jump rope…
Well, you’re going to have to get one because they’re awesome! If you already have one, skip (hehehe) this section.
For a long time I used my dad’s leather and wood jump rope but it broke and I had to replace it. I’m pretty short, so I wanted to find a rope that I could adjust to my height. I found this adjustable version at a Big 5 in Seattle. It was cheap and easy to adjust. However, you can only adjust it once (by cutting the rope to the right length and tightening a metal crimp to hold it in place). If you’re going to be sharing this jump rope with your roommate or spouse or gym buddy, only having one length could be a problem.
If you are a complete beginner or are especially uncoordinated (no big deal!), you might want to start with a beaded version. They’re heavier which makes it easier to jump at a slower, rhythmic pace. Do you remember jumping rope in gym class or during recess? These types of rope are the same you were using way back then. Getting back into it will be much easier with this type of weighted plastic rope.
If you’ve already been practicing and are ready to refine your skills or if your goal is to skip rope with the skill and speed of a highly-caffeinated boxer, a speed rope is the way to go. Based on the description alone, you know this rope is for overachievers…
But it’s also really affordable. If you plan on getting better, faster, stronger (thanks, Kanye…) a speed rope should suit your needs just fine.
Once you’ve got your rope, you will need shoes and a nice firm surface. I’ve been doing my workouts barefoot and on carpet…woops! After researching for this article, I hereby solemnly swear to wear shoes and do my skipping in the kitchen instead of the living room. Shoes and a good, solid surface will keep you from rolling your ankle and keep the rope from getting snagged up and slowed down as it hits the ground. However, concrete may be a bit unforgiving. You’ll have to try it out and see how you feel.
You will also need about 10 inches of overhead space. If you’re working out outside, this shouldn’t be hard…
The jump rope you’re using should be the right length. Double check before you start. Stand on the rope and stretch the handles upward along each side of your body. The handles should come up to your chest/armpit height.
Get Skipping With Proper Form
The easiest way to start is to practice by trapping the rope under your feet. Begin with your hands together and in front of you and your feet in front of the rope. Separate your hands as you swing the rope overhead and in front of you. You should end up with the rope trapped under your toes and your hands in “ready position” – at about mid-thigh level, shoulders down, holding the handles with your fingers more than your palms (no death grip!).
One you get going, you should be staying high on your feet. Land on the ball of your feet first and keep a nice, straight posture. Landing flat-footed will be jarring to the rest of your body. The idea is to transfer the shock of jumping throughout all of your joints and muscles so that one area doesn’t endure most of the stress. By staying light on your feet and keeping everything more or less in line, this will be no problem.
You shoulders should be relaxed and you should be turning the rope with your wrists, not your entire arms. Adding a mini-jump in between each jump over the rope slows things down and continuous jumping (passing the rope beneath your feet each time they leave the floor) is much harder.