Jump Rope 101
by Lisa Shaffer, RKC

Let’s start with the good stuff about jumping rope. You can burn more calories per minute than most cardio exercises combined. For example 10 minutes of jumping rope equals 30 minutes of jogging and it burns 135 calories. Jumping rope increases agility, balance, coordination and endurance all at the same time. It is a great activity to fight heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes and osteoporosis. It is very inexpensive, very portable and you can do it pretty much anywhere.

I’ve had many people tell me they would rather run miles than jump rope. Why? Because jumping rope is intense. Anything that actually works usually is intense. Jumping rope gets your heart rate up fast and keeps it there. It is constant upper and lower body movement. It works your legs, calves, abs, chest, shoulders, back and arms.

Are you ready to give it at try? Here’s how to get started.

What size rope?

The ropes are sold in 1 foot increments starting at 8 feet going up to 11. The best way to gage whether a rope is the right size for you is to stand in the middle of a rope and pull the handles up. If the handles reach your armpits it is a good fit. If you are ordering a jump rope and don’t have access to it then a good rule of thumb is the following based on your height.
  • 8 Ft. rope for up to 5’3” - 5’4”
  • 9 Ft. rope for 5’4” - 5’10”
  • 10 Ft. rope for 5’11 - 6’6”
  • 11 Ft. rope for over 6’6”


What kind of rope?

There are many different ropes made from many different things, from leather to plastic beads. There are weighted ropes, speed ropes, beaded ropes and long handle ropes. I have used a beaded rope, weighted rope and speed rope. Personally, I like the speed rope. It has ball bearings in the handles for a very smooth and fast rotation. To start, an inexpensive beaded rope will be just fine.

Surface for jumping



A wooden deck is great because it has some “give” to help absorb shock. The next best thing is to jump on gym mats. The gym mats provide a hard even surface but it still has some give to it.




How to jump rope

There actually is a technique to use for ease and effectiveness during the jumping. Hold the jump rope by the handles with the rope behind your feet. Keep your elbows with a 90 degree bend and close to your sides. Keep your shoulders relaxed and turn the rope with your wrists. Jump on the balls of your feet. Only jump high enough to let the rope pass under your feet. A couple of inches will do, for the standard double foot jump.

This is a very intense form of exercise so you need to build up slowly. There is no shame in starting with only 3-5 minutes at a time with breaks and jumping slowly. If you don’t have the coordination to jump with both feet at first, then start with at slow skip (just like when you were a kid). As your coordination and speed increases with the skip variation you will be able to go to a slower double foot jump. When you can consistently work out with a double foot jump; start working on increasing the speed.


Follow this simple plan to increase your conditioning and endurance

Jump rope at least 3-4 days a week.

Shoot for 5 minutes of jumping. Taking short breaks is ok. Just get in up to 5 minutes a day. Watch the clock and take note of how many minutes you can jump with out a break. When you are jumping for 5 minutes with no breaks then start adding one minute to your workout per week. You will be up to 10 minutes or more in no time.

Be sure to keep your breaks short; like 15-20 seconds. If you break too long and fully recover on a break you will not improve your conditioning. You need to train your body to be able continue to work even under stress. Your body will adapt and you will be able to jump for longer periods of time.

After just a few weeks of adding rope jumping to your routine you should start to see your shoulders and arms becoming more defined and your legs and calves will take on a long, sleek look. What I have come to learn about myself over the years is this, I love to exercise but I don’t like to spend a lot of time doing it. Jumping rope and kettlebell work is perfect for me. Both provide a great, intense workout in a short period of time and yield fast results. It just doesn’t get any better than that.







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