It may conjure up memories of elementary school recess, but jumping rope is no joke. We could go on and on about its benefits — from improving cardiovascular fitness to its low cost and portability — but we’ll focus on the mechanics of how to jump rope properly so you can maximize your results from this power and endurance-boosting exercise.
The Basics of Jumping Rope
If you want to get better at jumping rope, you’ll need to practice — and be prepared to get a little tangled. “It’s easy to get frustrated when you first start — especially if you think that jumping rope is easy,” says Erin Oprea, NESTA- and AFAA-certified trainer who has worked with the likes of Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini. “Put on some jams that work for you, find your rhythm, and expect to get caught up once in awhile.”
When you’re just learning how to jump rope, follow these basic steps:
- Hold the rope with your palms facing up and your wrists roughly halfway between your feet and the top of your head. Your wrists should be a few inches away from the sides of your body.
- Start with the rope behind your heels, and spin the rope up and over your head. (Once you’ve built up momentum, you should be able to continue spinning the rope by moving your wrists with minimal elbow and shoulder movement.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees, stay on your toes, and jump no more than a couple inches off the ground.
- Engage your core and keep your spine neutral (by keeping your chest up and looking straight ahead, not down).
Can Jumping Rope Help You Lose Weight?
Yes. Jumping rope can help you burn more calories, Oprea says — and calorie burn definitely plays a role in weight loss.
If a 150-pound person jumps rope at a moderate pace for 10 minutes, they’ll burn around 120 calories. (Of course, results may vary depending on factors like intensity, age, genetics, and body composition.)
How to Get Faster at Jumping Rope
Before you try to increase your speed, it’s important to master proper form. But once you do, you may want to check out a speed rope.
A speed rope is made of lightweight materials and is designed to help you spin faster. Just like when you’re learning to use a traditional jump rope, there may be a bit of a learning curve when you switch to a speed rope. “Go into the new system expecting it to feel and move a little differently than what you’re used to,” Oprea says. But the more often you use it, the quicker you’ll get the hang of it.
8 Jumping Rope Tricks to Try
Want to step up your workout (or just keep from getting bored)? Try one of these variations on the basic jump rope technique.
- Double unders: To do double unders, you’ll need to spin the rope quickly enough for it to pass under your feet twice per jump.
- Double dutch: You’ll need at least three people to try double dutch. Two people turn two long jump ropes in opposite directions while one or more people jump them.
- Skier: Skier jumps are similar to basic rope jumps, except you’ll hop from side to side with your feet together (like you’re navigating moguls on skis).
- Bell: This is similar to the skier, but you’ll jump forward and back with your feet held together.
- Straddle: Similar to jumping jacks, you’ll alternate between a feet-together position and a wide-leg position.
- Scissors: Start in a staggered stance (one foot in front of the other), and switch foot positions with each jump.
- Crossover: Alternate open arms and crossed arms with each spin of the rope. (This may take some practice!)
- Boxer skip: A boxer skip is similar to the basic jump, but with each jump, you’ll shift your weight from leg to leg. When your weight is on your left foot, your right knee should be slightly bent and your right toe should barely touch the floor (and vice versa).