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Jump Rope Workout: Make your heart pump!

a shirtless, muscular white man performs a jump rope workout outdoors in front of a cream-colored wall
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Lisa studied journalism and is a certified fitness and health trainer, as well as a meditation coach! She spent many years working for different lifestyle and fitness magazines, and she writes articles for us on the topics of working out, fitness, lifestyle and mind.

Can a jump rope workout really help you lose weight and build muscle? Let’s talk about how effective jump roping is, what equipment you’ll need and how to do it properly. Plus: at-home exercises to get started and a workout plan!

What are the benefits of jumping rope?

Having long since lost its children’s recess association, jumping rope is a popular warm-up among martial artists, and is also used more and more often in fitness studios, at boot camps in the park, or a home gym. No wonder: jumping rope is an effective strength endurance workout that is demanding on the entire body.

In addition to your physical condition, it helps you improve your speed, power for explosive movement, sense of rhythm and coordination, as well as your cognitive abilities. You need an alert mind to execute these sequences without stumbling.

A group of athletes completes a jump rope workout indoors
©Cecilie_Arcurs

5 advantages of rope jumping

  1. You don’t need any previous experience for a jump rope workout: It is suitable for beginners who want to exercise or lose weight as well as for advanced athletes with higher aerobic goals.
  2. It’s varied: unlike jogging, you stay in one place, but there’s a variety of steps and jumps.
  3. Using the jump rope can be a fast cardio workout or a warm-up: Ten minutes can be just as effective as 30 minutes of jogging.
  4. It’s strength and endurance training for the whole body, which boosts fat burning, challenges the muscles, and trains reflexes and concentration skills –  all at the same time!
  5. A jump rope workout can increase your performance in other areas: These workouts train your speed and power in a targeted and effective way, which is especially beneficial in martial arts (such as boxing), sprinting, and acrobatic exercises.

Which muscles do jump rope workouts target?

Every jump rope workout uses different muscles depending on the exercise and intensity.

An illustrated muscle map of the muscles worked during a jump rope workout. The primary muscles are highlighted in dark blue, while the secondary muscles are in light blue. The muscles are listed in text after the image.

Primary muscles targeted:

  • Musculus triceps surae / calf muscle: The calf muscle is active during push off and landing. It causes flexion in the knee joint and and in the foot.
  • Musculus quadriceps femoris / anterior thigh muscle: The quads are responsible for straightening up from a squat. It also helps your landing.

Secondary muscles targeted:

  • Rectus abdominis / abdominal muscle: The abdominal muscles are important postural muscles. They help you keep your balance when jumping.
  • Erector spinae / Back extensor: The main function of the lower back muscles is to straighten the spine and keep the head upright.
  • Wrist musculature: The continuous rotational movement during rope skipping comes from the wrists. There are 16 different muscles involved in these movements.
  • Musculus brachialis and Musculus biceps brachii / upper arm flexor muscles: You have to bend and stabilize your upper arms when jumping rope, so these muscles are under constant tension.
  • Musculus deltoideus / deltoid muscle: The deltoid muscle is the largest shoulder muscle and is a part of the upper back. It’s also engaged during jump rope workouts to guarantee an upright posture.

Building muscle with jump rope workouts

You have to build up strength in order to increase your endurance. Although it targets many muscles at once, jump rope isn’t a substitute for classic strength training – it’s better suited for muscle definition than for muscle building.

A heavily muscled, shirtless white man swings a jump rope over his head in front of an outdoor industrial backdrop
©milan2099

Our tip: If you’re looking for muscle mass, you can increase the load during your workout, using ankle weights or special jump ropes with weighted grips. You can also supplement your workouts with strength exercises – for example, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, burpees, or pull-ups.

Is jump roping good for losing weight?

The simple rule for losing weight is: you have to burn more calories than you consume. Exercise is a crucial factor that increases your calorie consumption. Using a jump rope can definitely bring you closer to your feel-good figure. Some advantages of jumping rope are: it’s intensive, gets your whole body working, and raises your heartrate pretty quickly.

Importantly: If you want to burn fat effectively, don’t push it to the limit! Optimal fat metabolism takes place at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate this with the following formula:

Maximum heart rate (MHR) = 226 (for women) // 220 (for men) – age

It’s best to wear a sensor during your workout to keep an eye on your heart rate.

It’s been proven that the ideal sport for losing weight is strength training, because every kilogram of muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories your body consumes at rest. That’s why jump roping is ideal as a supplement to weight training if you want to accelerate your weight loss success.

A woman with medium skin tone crosses her arms during a jump rope workout in a white-walled gym with big windows behind her

©Cavan ImagesMovement is only half the battle, though: nutrition is the key to losing weight. Pay attention to a balanced and varied supply of nutrients.

Our Tip: Get high-quality protein with a portion of our Whey Protein in tasty varieties such as chocolate peanut, banana, or vanilla.

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Rope skipping calorie consumption

The actual calorie consumption during rope skipping depends on many factors, such as age, gender and weight as well as your speed and general fitness. So it’s difficult to generalize.

In general, though, one can assume 150 calories per 10 minutes of skipping. So half an hour of jumping rope can melt up to 500 calories. By comparison, jogging at a medium pace burns about 350 calories per 30 minutes.

Our tip: HIIT training is perfect for burning as many calories as possible in a short time. Jumping rope can be part of your workout and round it off perfectly.

How long do you have to jump rope?

That depends on your goals and your fitness level. In general, ten minutes every day is a good amount if you want to increase your general fitness.

If you want to get started with jump rope as a beginner, jump for ten 1-minute intervals, with 1-minute breaks in between. Try to jump once per second.

Advanced jumpers can fill the break times with exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, push-ups or squats. Alternatively, shorten the break to 30 seconds.

Which is better: running or jumping rope?

Running and jump rope have been competing with each other for several years. Strength athletes and martial artists have been living their best jump rope lives for a while because it’s so efficient. They use the jump rope as a short, intense warm-up. Jogging, on the other hand, is more typically associated with endurance training over longer periods of time.

A shirtless, muscular, bearded white man squats forward with a jump rope swinging in front of his body
©South_agency

We’ve compared the two exercises side by side:

Running Skipping rope
Kinds of Training primarily trains basic endurance primarily trains jumping and high-speed strength
Calorie Consumption ca. 700 kcal/h ca. 1,000 kcal/h
Flexibility depends on the weather (when running outdoors) depends on the living situation (for indoors)
Equipment and Surroundings running shoes, running path or treadmill cushioned shoes, jump rope, enough space, springy floor
Risk of Injury Damage to joints and cartilage possible; cushioned running shoes can reduce the risk Damage to joints and cartilage possible; a soft jumping surface and shoes with forefoot cushioning can reduce the risk

What do you have to keep in mind for your workouts?

As with any other sport, there are a few subtleties to consider in order to avoid injuries and get the most out of the exercise:

  • Put on sturdy shoes, preferably with forefoot cushioning and a high shaft
  • Warm up your wrists and ankles! Rise onto your tip-toes and slowly lower yourself back down. At the same time, circle your arms around. Repeat a few times.
  • Jumping on a springy surface, e.g. carpet, lawn, hall floor or tartan tracks (not on asphalt!)
  • Allow sufficient space to the front, back and above

The right technique

To find the best jump rope length: first, stand in the middle of the rope with your feet about shoulder width apart. The ends of the rope should reach just below your chest.

A woman of color completes a jump rope workout in a white-walled gym with large windows behind her
©Cavan Images

When you jump, the rotation of the rope comes from the wrists and not from the arms. Keep your arms close to your body and your shoulders and forearms still. Jump off from the ball of your foot and land softly without completely setting your heels down. You don’t have to jump high at all! A few centimeters is enough, as long as you clear the rope. Keep your legs slightly bent at all times.

Pick the right rope

Speed ropes are the most common. These light, thin ropes made of plastic are the best jump rope choice for beginners, while those more advanced can choose ropes made of steel, brass wire or leather. There are also ropes with integrated weights for when you’re really up for the challenge.

Beaded ropes are also an option. They are heavier, though, and are mainly used for partner exercises or in acrobatics.

For ropes with handles, you should pay attention to a smooth-running ball joint so that the rope rotates smoothly. Better to go for quality than just find a cheap rope at a discount store.

The ideal length for your rope should be your height minus 91.5 cm.

The best jump rope exercises

Frau springt draußen auf Beton mit ihrem Seil
©jacoblund

Now that you have your rope, you’re ready to start sweating. Here are some great exercises:

  • Easy Jump: Easy jumping on the spot
  • One-Legged Jump: Jump with one foot, bend the other knee slightly, change leg
  • Running Step: Alternate which leg lands on each jump, as if you were running in place
  • Double Under: Jump a bit higher and swing the rope twice as fast to get it around your body twice before landing the jump
  • Criss Cross Arms: Cross your arms in front of your body before the rope hits the floor under your feet. Cross as the rope passes above your head
  • Criss Cross Legs: Cross your feet as you land one jump. Uncross them for the next jump and alternate which leg goes in front. Advanced version: criss cross them without taking one jump to switch sides!
  • Jumping Jacks: Open and close your feet alternately on each jump, just like a jumping jack
  • Step Jump: Scissor your feet back and forth for each jump
  • Heel Taps: Alternate taping the heels forward

Workout with a jump rope – for all fitness levels

Here’s a highly effective 20-minute HIIT workout alternating jump rope and bodyweight exercises.

Depending on your fitness level, you can intensify the bodyweight exercises by adding jumps (e.g. squat jumps or jumping lunges) or adding weights or resistance bands.

Exercise Time
Jumping Jacks (without rope) 1 min
Arm circles forward 30 Sec
Arm circles backward 30 Sec
Easy Jumps 1 min
Squats 1 min
Easy Jumps 1 min
Push-Ups 1 min
Break 30 Sec
One-legged Jumps, right 30 Sec
One-legged Jumps, left 30 sec
Sidesteps 1 min
Easy Jumps 1 min
Burpees 1 min
Break 30 sec
One-legged Jumps, right 30 sec
One-legged Jumps, left 30 sec
Squats 1 min
Double Under 30 sec
Dips 1 min
Easy Jumps 1 min 30 sec
Side Lunges, right 30 sec
Side Lunges, left 30 sec
Double Under 30 sec
Easy Jumps 30 sec
Sit-Ups 1 min
Crunches 1 min
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Feeling motivated? Get even more exercises and free workouts to freshen your home or gym routine.

Summary

  • Jumping rope is an effective strength endurance training, which increases speed and jumping power as well as improves condition and coordination.
  • It not only trains endurance but also the leg muscles, abdomen, arms, chest and shoulders. It’s more suitable for muscle definition than for muscle building, though
  • It’s an ideal supplement to weight training or martial arts – for example as a fast, efficient warm-up.
  • It’s important to have a springy base, sturdy shoes and the right jump and rotation technique.
  • 10 minutes of jump rope daily is ideal for improving general fitness and accelerating weight loss.
Article sources
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