When it comes to fitness, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine. You go to the same group classes, use the same machines at the gym, or run the same outdoor trails. And while that’s all well and good for establishing healthy habits, don’t confuse routine with progress. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself hitting a plateau or, worse yet, getting burnt out as your body begins to adapt to performing the same movements over and over again.
If you find yourself getting bored with your workouts, or if you are no longer seeing the changes you want, it might be time to jump-start your efforts with something new. How? With a jump rope! It turns out that one of your favorite childhood activities is one of the most effective, not to mention inexpensive, workouts you can do. No, we aren’t talking about the “Double Dutch” games of your youth (unless that’s what gets you going). We’re talking about cardio boosting, strength training intervals that work your entire body. Here are some of the benefits of jumping rope and some exercises to get you started.
If you think that once you are too old for recess, you are too old for jump ropes, think again! Once reserved for school playgrounds, jump ropes are popular among boxers, elite athletes, and celebrities like Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, both of whom are proof that a buff body has nothing to do with age. The reason is simple: it works! The benefits of jumping rope go way beyond torching calories, although it does that too, with the average 150-pound person burning as many as 750 calories per hour. But more than that, jumping rope is a full-body workout that improves your cardiovascular health while toning your muscles, increasing your bone density, and helping you develop better coordination and balance. Mentally, it engages your mind as it forces you to stay in the moment to avoid tripping on the rope. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
Health benefits aside, one of the biggest advantages of jumping rope is convenience. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment. All you need is a pair of athletic shoes, some space, and, of course, a jump rope. Before you jump online (pun intended) and order the same flimsy, plastic rope you once used in P.E. class, you should know that not all ropes are created equally. There are weighted ropes, ropes designed for speed, and even “smart” ropes that connect your smart device and track your data.
For the beginner, a sturdy rope of light to medium weight will do the trick. Remember, the heavier the rope’s weight, the more muscles you engage as you jump. For a list of some of the best jump rope options that are designed for everything from speed drills to strength training, click here. Once you’ve selected the type you want, make sure you’ve chosen the correct length for your body. Yes, size matters when it comes to jump ropes. A rope that is too long or too short will only make things harder by tripping you up. That can lead to frustration. Set yourself up for success by finding the length that’s perfect for you. How? By standing on the center of the rope and extending the handles. If they reach your armpits, you’re ready to hop to it!
If you start jumping and find that you are having trouble, check your form. There are two common mistakes many newbies make:
Here are a couple of jump rope workouts you won’t want to skip:
Tabatas make a great finisher for your strength training workout, revving up your heart rate so that you will continue to burn calories and fat for hours to come. The concept is simple: jump as fast as you can for 20 seconds and then slow it down for 10. Repeat for eight rounds. For a high-intensity 20-minute cardio workout, repeat five sets of this eight-round Tabata drill, slowing down for 60 seconds after each set.
Not only will this circuit get your heart pumping, but changing your footwork will keep the body guessing and improve your balance and coordination.
Repeat 3-5 rounds
Break up your strength training sets and burn more calories by adding in 60-second jump rope intervals like the ones in this bodyweight strength workout.
Repeat 3-5 rounds
Like any other form of cardio, jumping rope can be adjusted to accommodate any fitness level. Take your time, build up slowly, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to jump into a whole new level of fitness.
Once you find your rhythm, it’s plain to see why so many people, from professional athletes to fitness fanatics, incorporate jump ropes into their workout routines. Portable enough to use anywhere, anytime, it’s an easy way to hit your cardio goals or to warm up before your strength training sets. Experiment with speed intervals, timed drills, and double-unders to change things up. Done regularly, jumping rope is an easy and effective way to raise your heart rate, along with your endurance and stamina.