Remember being a kid? You could jump rope for hours. Singing songs, the gentle turn of the rope, jumping and hopping in and out while the rope swung and two friends swung the rope. Some of us jumped double dutch.
Flash to today – adulthood. There aren’t many workouts you can do that the equipment you need can literally fit into your purse, briefcase or glove box, and cost you less than $20 to get started.
Many runners wonder if our cross-training exercises can benefit us the same as running. Is jumping rope better than running? Should runners do it? Great questions. Ready for a deep dive?
Benefits of Jumping Rope
✓ Jumping rope is an excellent endurance activity. If you have not jumped rope in a while, give it a try.
According to the International Sports Conditioning Association, jumping rope “will improve your speed, agility, power, balance, and coordination.” (Livestrong)
✓ It is a great cardiovascular activity. Anytime you can get your heart rate up it is a good thing! There is a reason the words jump rope are often followed by for your heart.
✓ Jump ropes are inexpensive. You can get a very simple jump rope for kids, which can be purchased at any dollar store.
There are also wonderful ropes made specifically for fitness centers that are made a little sturdier, with comfortable handles contoured for adult hands.
✓ When doing this, you are working on different muscles than other activities. Sure, you can do calf raises in the weight room. However, jumping rope is a way to work your calves and Achilles.
Also, jump rope activities also increase ankle stability and help prevent shin splints. If you have ever had shin splints, you know how painful these are.
✓ Of course, it works more than the lower leg! Jumping rope also works quads and glutes, and that makes sense to all of us. But if you think a little deeper, you are also engaging your core. Your shoulders, neck, back, and triceps are being engaged as you turn the rope.
✓ There is a reason why boxers and other types of fighters jump rope. It builds speed and agility.
✓ It is a bone-strengthening workout. We have all heard that impact activities are good for us as we get older and need to be concerned about having and maintaining strong bones. Jumping rope is an excellent workout for this!
✓ An excellent way to burn calories! You can burn up to ten calories a minute, which is similar to what the average person burns while running.
✓ It is said to be a natural mood booster, and also engages both hemispheres of the brain!
Some Solid Workout Tips Using Your Jump Rope
For newbies to the world of jumping rope, you may need to start with simple jumping for short as five minutes. It takes a while to get re-acclimated to this type of activity. It is hard to believe that something you could easily do for your entire elementary recess now leaves you winded.
Once you get comfortable with the rope, try intervals. Think about a jump rope workout just like you would a fartlek.
Warm-up for three to five minutes, jumping at an easy pace. Then try sixty seconds of hard or fast jumping, followed by sixty seconds by easy jumping. Or, follow your fast jumping with complete rest to lower your heart rate quickly.
To add more challenge, try a pyramid of jumping. Warm-up for three to five minutes. Start with five minutes at a 75-85% perceived effort. If it feels 75% effort, in the beginning, it will feel harder by minute three or four even if you are jumping the same number of rotations per minute. Try to match the number of rotations for each minute of the interval. Rest following that. Then try to match the same effort you just did for four minutes. Rest. Then three minutes. Rest. Then two minutes. Rest. Then one minute. Rest. You’re done. This is fifteen minutes of “work.”
As you get better at jumping rope, you can try some new, more challenging moves. Instead of landing on both feet, alternate left then right. Try jumping by hopping on one foot. Try jumping side to side as the rope rotates.
There are many athletic moves while jumping rope. As your comfort increases, so should your sense of adventure!
Advice for Newbies
- For novice jump ropers, a beaded rope is recommended. These jump ropes hold their shape well. They are also easier to control than an actual rope.
- You should shorten your rope to match your height. How? The handles should reach your armpits.
- Make sure you allow for adequate head clearance. You need about ten inches above your head just to be safe.
- Although kids jump rope anywhere and everywhere, when using a jump rope for your workout, it is best to jump on either a wood floor or exercise mats.
- It’s not a bad idea to practice without a rope first. Feels ridiculous? Well, no-one is watching. Just try it without the rope first. I promise. You won’t regret it.
If the jury is still out for you, you have not been paying attention. Should runners jump rope? The answer is a resounding yes. Jumping rope is an inexpensive and easy cross-training tool that everyone should have in their workout arsenal.
It is also an exceptional cardiovascular activity. It improves your footwork, speed, and agility. It helps build bone density. A unique way to burn calories, a vigorous ten minutes of jumping rope burns as many calories as running for a mile or more, depending on the athlete.
It’s something everyone can easily tuck into a corner of their workout space or into a gym bag, and you can get a lot of “work” packed into very little time.
Is jump roping something runners should do? You betcha!