- 318 calories burned (brisk pace, based on a 140-pound woman)
- Your muscles—the gastrocnemius, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, forearms, and deltoids—get a workout.
- Your agility, hand-to-eye coordination, and balance will improve so that you'll feel more sure on your feet.
- Rope jumping is also second to none for building strong bones.
If you are concerned that you're too uncoordinated or worried about your knees, don't be. With the right technique, jumping rope is easy to master, actually strengthens your joints, and is pretty cool to do. There are even group jumping classes and video workouts that help make rope jumping fun and accessible no matter what your level of fitness or coordination. Or you can pick up a few pointers, hit play on your boom box, and jump-start your fitness right now.
The key piece of equipment is a good jump rope. For performance and quality, you can't beat a plastic beaded or segmented rope. This style of rope weighs about a half-pound, which is just enough weight to give it momentum as it swings around so you don't waste energy keeping the rope in motion.
And unlike very lightweight materials like leather, cotton, or nylon, beaded ropes hold a nice wide arc and are less likely to tangle in midair, which means you're less likely to end up catching your feet and feeling frustrated. To test for proper rope fit, step on the center of the rope. The handles should come up to your chest.
Because rope jumping is a bouncy workout, you'll need good shoes and a snug sports bra. A quality pair of aerobic or cross-training shoes are the best choice because they have added support at the ball of your foot, which is where you land. Help your breasts stay put with an encapsulation sports bra. Because this kind of bra holds each breast separately in a supportive cup, it's ideal for women with C-cup breasts or larger. You can find this kind of bra in any sporting goods store.
Once you start skipping, the key to success is taking your time. Even if you skipped from sunrise to sunset as a kid, it's going to take a few sessions to get back into a rhythm and to build your fitness. Rope jumping sends your heart rate skyward quickly, so don't be surprised if you have to stop after just 1 to 2 minutes the first time you try it. Just jog in place, catch your breath, and jump for another miniround when you're ready.
Aim to do your rope jumping 3 or 4 days a week. Beginners should try to complete one 5- to 15-minute session. More experienced jumpers can shoot for 20 to 40 minutes. Remember that you can alternate jumping styles if one becomes boring. Or you can jump in intervals lasting a few minutes each, then take a break to jog in place or do calisthenics like ab crunches or chair dips, so that your total exercise time is about 30 minutes and you're jumping rope about two-thirds of that time.
Tips and Techniques
The great thing about rope jumping is that you don't need a lot of special gear or detailed instructions. With a quick lesson, good form, and a few ideas to keep it fresh, you'll be on your way to toning up and dropping pounds. The following tips will get you started.
Use good form With good form, jumping is easier and more enjoyable no matter what your fitness level. The components of the jump look like this:
The twirl Keep your elbows close to your body, your shoulders down, and your upper body steady. Holding your hands level with your hips, turn the rope with your forearms and wrists.
The jump Rope jumping is not a super high impact activity. You should jump only as high as is necessary for the rope to clear the space between your feet and the ground--generally not more than an inch. Keep your knees slightly bent throughout the exercise.
Do a ropeless warmup Warm up with a few minutes of marching, walking, or calisthenics before you start skipping. Your muscles and joints will be more receptive to jumping, and your reflexes will be sharper.
Cushion your landing The sidewalk was fine when you were a kid. But your grown-up hips and knees prefer a more cushioned landing surface. Hardwood floors, low carpeting, a thin exercise mat, and even blacktop are safer surfaces.
Keep the beat Jumping rope to up-tempo music helps you find your rhythm and makes the exercise feel more like play. Turn up your favorite dance music and hop to the beat. With good music and a little imagination, rope jumping can be like free-form dancing.
Run, skip, jump The classic jump rope move is a single two-footed hop per twirl. So it's twirl, hop, twirl, hop. But you're not locked into this two-step jump. These moves not only add some variety, but also are easier on your body, so you can jump longer without needing a break:
Single-foot hops Alternate hopping with just one foot, then the other. Hop right then left for counts of one to three hops on a side.
Heel kicks With each jump, straighten one leg in front of you and touch down with your heel. Alternate back and forth.
Rope jacks Alternate landing with your feet in a wide or narrow stance, as you would during jumping jacks.
Rope run Lift your knees a little higher than you normally would and try jogging from foot to foot as you jump, so it looks like you're running through the rope.