By Leigh Ann Thomas, Certified Personal Trainer 

If you are looking to add a little fun and nostalgia to your workout, consider reaching for your jump rope. In as little as ten minutes a day, jumping rope has proven to be one of the most efficient ways for improving cardiovascular fitness, cognitive function and bone strength. I’m not sure how long it’s been since you’ve jumped rope, but personally speaking, it’s not as easy as it looks. Jumping rope requires a lot of stamina, strength, endurance and coordination.

There’s a reason you see boxers include jump rope in their training routine because it’s incredibly effective at developing their footwork and endurance. In addition to all the physical benefits of this exercise, jumping rope is also convenient, requires very little space and you can practically do it anywhere!

What type of jump rope should you use?

If you do not own a jump rope, fear not, you can buy one here. Next thing you want to do is make sure the rope fits comfortably for your height. To measure, you will step on the middle of the rope and the handles should stop right at your arm pits. If too long, you can cut it and adjust it. There are two types of ropes that offer different benefits; a speed rope and a weighted rope. A speed rope (light weight, fast) helps you skip quicker, allowing for advanced moves such as, “double unders” (you may have heard someone mention these if they do Crossfit). A weighted rope is a little thicker in appearance with weighted handles (I recommend a two-pounder) that activates more of your upper body muscles and core (your arms are going to get so ripped using this). And while the heavy rope is more of a challenge in some ways, it’s actually great if you’re a little rusty at jumping rope because the added weight slows down the rotation, giving you more time to coordinate your timing.

4 Benefits of Jumping Rope

The benefits of jumping rope are plenty and here are a few you may or may not have known about:

1. Improves Bone Density - “One of the best ways to improve your bone strength is by jumping up and down.” According to Dr. Daniel Barry, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. Moreover, unlike running, jumping rope is much easier on your knees since the impact of each jump is absorbed by both legs.

2. Improves Brain Function – According to the Jump Rope Institute, “jumping rope helps develop the right and left hemispheres of the brain which improve concentration, muscle memory and mental alertness.”

3. Improves Cardiovascular Health – Jumping rope can challenge your body to move in a way it may not be used to. Therefore, when you recruit several new muscle groups to work at a fast pace, your heart rate elevates in order to keep up with the demand of the exercise. The longer and faster you move, the more energy you will expend, thus strengthening your heart as a result.

4. Improves Coordination – Forcing your mind and body to work together requires a lot of practice. Jumping rope is one of those examples. This cyclic activity provides a steady rhythm and cadence which forces your brain to think about timing and movement. Once your coordination improves, you will be able to incorporate more challenging rhythms and variations.

Jump Rope Interval Workout

Below, I have developed a metabolic workout that is going to include some skip intervals as well as functional, body weight exercises to increase your calorie burn and build more muscle.

Warm up: spend about 5-6 minutes finding a good rhythm with your rope.

Then to warm up your core, perform:
-20 crunches
-20 leg lifts –lying on your back, hands beneath your hips, straighten legs. Raise legs 90 degrees, then back to start stopping your feet about 6’’ above the ground.
-44 seconds high plank
-45 seconds low plank

Circuit 1: perform all moves, back to back without rest until you’ve completed the entire circuit. Rest 1 minute before starting again and repeat circuit 4x.

1. 3 minute basic jumps – as fast and controlled as you can.
2. 20 body weight squats with an alternating front kick (squat first, then upon standing- right leg kick, squat, left leg kick, repeat)– hands up behind head.
3. 3 minute basic jumps – fast and controlled
4. 20 Push ups
5. 3 minute basic jumps – fast and controlled
6. 20 walking lunges with hands up behind head

Circuit 2: perform all moves, back to back without rest until you’ve completed the entire circuit. Rest 1 minute before starting again and repeat circuit 4x.

1. 3 minute basic jump (for advanced option, perform high knee skips)
2. 10 burpees
3. 3 minute basic jump (for advanced option, perform high knee skips)
4. Plank with lateral toe taps – on forearms, swing one foot out to the side as wide as you can, return to start and repeat other leg. Perform 30x
5. 3 minute basic jump (for advanced option, perform high knee skips)
6. Alternating reverse lunges – 30x

A few pointers before you begin: Keep jumps as low to the ground as possible, landing gently on the balls of your feet, elbows pulled back and close to your rib cage. If you are using a speed rope, turn handles with your wrists, if you are using a weighted rope, engage your forearms to keep stress off the wrists. When you jump, your feet should barely feel like they’re leaving the ground, don’t overexert yourself by jumping too high and landing too hard.

I hope you enjoy this jump rope interval workout and remember, if you do not master the jump rope in the beginning, keep practicing! Start with one leg skips if you need to work your way up to jumping with both feet. This will be one of the best ways to improve your balance and coordination if you haven’t challenged yourself in a while. And of course, remember to always have fun!