Fitness trends come and go, but there’s one piece of fitness gear you can always count on: the jump rope.
From playgrounds to prizefighting gyms, the humble jump rope is a fitness-boosting staple. Jumping rope can help you increase coordination, balance, timing, speed, agility, and power.
Best of all? If you’re trying to burn fat, jumping rope might be your ace in the hole.
“If you are bored with your current cardio regimen, jumping rope can add a new skill to learn while elevating your heart rate for some good cardio work,” says Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun, CSCS.
Here’s what you need to know.
Should You Jump Rope for Weight Loss?
As long as you’re comfortable with high-impact exercise, jumping rope may help you reach your weight-loss goals.
Losing fat while maintaining muscle requires two major components:
- Nutrition — Follow a well-balanced diet that consists of lean protein, fruits and veggies, healthy fats, and complex carbs, and delivers fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis.
- Exercise — This ensures that your body burns fat, rather than lean tissue, for fuel, and burns additional calories beyond those you burn at rest.
The latter, of course, is where jumping rope comes in. If your joints can handle the impact of a high-impact workout, jumping rope can deliver a hefty caloric burn.
But if you have a history of painful knees, ankles, or wrists, you may be better off choosing a low-impact workout instead, such as yoga, swimming, or cycling.
How Jumping Rope Helps With Weight Loss
Putting your inner Rocky Balboa to work may be among the best things you can do for your waistline.
- It’s effective. “Jumping rope incorporates the whole body,” says Beachbody fitness expert Amanda Lopez, CPT. You swing the rope with your arms, jump with your legs, and stabilize with your torso. That makes it a great head-to-toe muscle toner and calorie burner. According to the online calculator at Calorie Control Council, a 150-pound person will burn about 180 calories in 20 minutes of jumping rope.
- It’s convenient. Ten bucks and a few square feet of floor space is about all you need to get started jumping rope. Toss your rope into your travel bag and you can turn any park, backyard, or hotel room into your own personal cardio studio.
- It’s scalable. Assuming you’re comfortable repeatedly jumping a quarter-inch into the air, jumping rope can be as easy — or as challenging — as you want. Go slower for an easy warm-up, faster for a high-intensity burst, and somewhere in between for a mid-level cardio challenge. Mix them up for a high-intensity interval blast.
- It’s fun. You can’t discount this one. Jumping rope — like boxing, dancing, and martial arts — is a skill you can refine and improve with practice, and you’ll actually have fun doing it. (It’s hard to say the same about the Elliptical machine.) Then there’s the cool factor: Once you’ve got the basics down, you can add in impressive variations like speed work, crossovers, high knees, and more.
7 Jump Rope Variations to Try
Take your rope-jumping up a notch with this progression.
1. Single hop
Stand holding the handles of the rope with the middle of the rope on the floor behind your heels. Swing the rope slowly over your head, and as the rope approaches your toes, jump over the rope with both feet.
2. Double hop
Same as above, but add in a small, two-footed hop as the rope goes overhead. (You’ll do two hops per revolution of the rope — one over the rope, and another as the rope goes overhead.)
3. High knee skip
Jog in place with high knees, turning the rope once per step.
4. Low skip
Same as above, but eliminate the high-knee action, hopping lightly from one foot to the other with each turn of the rope.
With each jump, alternate between crossing and uncrossing your arms.
Travel from side to side with each jump.
7. Double unders
This is similar to the single hop, but you’ll turn the rope twice on every jump (so it passes under your feet twice per jump).
Beginner Jump Rope Workout for Weight Loss
Just learning to jump rope? Here’s a workout that will build your coordination and jumping stamina. Any time you miss while jumping rope, simply reset and continue — don’t restart the clock.
If a variation is too difficult, substitute one you’re able to do.
Perform the following sequence of moves in order, taking minimal rest between exercises and a 60-second rest between rounds. Do 2 to 5 rounds.
- Jump rope double-hop (60 seconds)
- Squat thrusts (30 seconds)
- Jump rope single-hop ( 60 seconds)
- Mountain climbers (30 seconds)
- Jump rope high-knee skip (60 seconds)
- Bodyweight squat (30 seconds)
- Jump rope low-skip, crossover, or double under (60 seconds)
- Stir the pot (30 seconds)
How to do squat thrusts
- Assume an athletic stance: feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, back straight, arms relaxed by your sides.
- Bend your knees, fold at your hip joints, and place your hands on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
- Jump your feet back to a pushup position: hands stacked directly underneath your shoulders, feet still shoulder-width apart, and a straight line should run from the crown of your head to your feet.
- Keeping your back as flat as possible, reverse the movement, jumping your feet back to the bent position.
- Stand and repeat for 30 seconds.
How to do mountain climbers
- Starting in a push-up position, draw your right knee quickly toward your chest.
- Without raising your hips excessively, quickly switch the position of your feet.
- Alternate sides for 30 seconds.
How to do a bodyweight squat
- With your feet parallel and slightly wider than hip-width apart, bend your knees and lower your hips, sitting back until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping your weight in the heels of your feet and your lower back in a natural arch throughout the movement.
- Reverse the movement, exploding out of the low position and returning to the starting position.
- Repeat for 30 seconds.
How to “stir the pot”
- Assume a plank position with your forearms and hands resting on a stability ball, your body forming a straight line from your heels to the top of your head.
- Keeping your body rigid and your head in a neutral position relative to the floor, circle your elbows as widely and slowly as possible in a clockwise direction.
- After completing a full clockwise circle, perform the same movement counterclockwise.
- Continue alternating the direction of the circle on each rep for the entire 30-second work period.