The jump rope can be a great cardio exercise if you know how to jump rope properly. Not only does jumping rope help you burn a ton of calories and improve your speed and quickness, it’s also cheap and you can do it just about anywhere.
This video has 7 tips to ensure you learn how to jump rope like a pro, and I also have a crazy Youtube video of the “Best Jump Roper in the World” doing jump rope tricks.
Before getting into the tips, I’ve used many different types of jump ropes ranging from wooden handles with a leather rope, plastic handle with lightweight cotton , but I prefer rubber jump ropes with unweighted handles and a ball and socket inside. The Buddy Lee Aero Speed Jump Rope (affiliate link) is my favorite.
1) Jump on the Balls of your feet
When you jump rope, try to softly jump up and down on the balls on your feet. Your heels should never touch the ground, which is one reason why jumping rope is a serious calves workout!
2) Don’t Jump too High, Relax
Many people who try to jump rope jump so high it’s like they don’t realize the rope is an eighth of inch thick. If you’re trying to get in a rhythm and jump rope for more than 30 seconds without burning yourself out, keep your jumps as small as possible without tying up the jump rope. Just relax and don’t worry if you trip up the rope.
3) Don’t Swing your Arms/Shoulders too Much
Jumping rope is all in the wrists. Watching someone who doesn’t know how to jump rope reminds me of how some people will try to swim really hard, but barely go anywhere. Then you see another swimmer who is barely trying yet flies through the water. Just as swimming is all about the efficiency of your stroke, jumping rope effectively is all about the efficiency of the revolutions. If you are using your arms and shoulders while jumping very high, jumping rope becomes a VERY difficult cardio activity. Just use your wrists in a circular motion as I describe in the video.
4) Use the Correct Rope Length
How long should the jump rope be you ask? If you bisect the jump rope by putting it under your feet, the handles should reach your sternum. Much higher, or lower will affect the rhythm and make jumping rope much harder. The jump rope should tick the ground each revolution, which also makes it easier to count reps and get in a rhythm.
5) Hands Slightly Above Waistline
Hand position is important and this is also dependent on the length of the rope you have. Your arms should be comfortably bent, hands placed about a foot from your sides and about waist level.
6) Get in a Rhythm
You can really jump rope as fast as you want, but getting in a rhythm can make jump rope easier and more fun. It’s kind of like hitting your stride as you jog, so you can do the same thing jumping rope. I like to complete a certain number of revolutions, or reps in a certain amount of time, let’s say a pace of roughly 150 reps per 60 seconds. It’s really up to you what feels comfortable and what type of workout you are doing.
7) Practice, Practice, Practice
This is by far the most important tip of all! Most of my training clients do not know how to jump rope properly at their first session. But after their 4th, or 5th session ,they are jumping rope like a pro. How is that possible? First, start out with the rope behind you, then:
a) Do one jump rope rep then stop
b) Do two jump rope reps, then stop
c) Keep on going
This progressive strategy helps prevent, or unlearn the dreaded “double hop”, which is when you hop twice in between every revolution. In addition, the main reason I created the preceding video is so you can watch how I do it and just follow along. Then, it’s really just a matter of putting in maybe an hour, or two of practice, next thing you know, you’re jumping rope like a pro boxer and you’re burning fat like it’s going out of style.
But before you start learning how to jump rope, check out this video below. I used to think I was pretty good at jumping rope, but Buddy Lee puts me to shame! Buddy Lee is the self proclaimed “Best Jump Roper in the World” and founder of the Buddy Lee Jumping Rope Institute. You have to see this video. INSANE!
Buddy Lee CRAZY Jumping Rope Tricks!
For years I started out my workouts with 10 minutes of jumping rope without rest as a warm up, then hit the weights. I would also do it before, or after some interval training treadmill workouts to really burn out my calves and increase my speed and quickness.
Starting out, you can use some more basic interval training techniques, like 50-100 reps, then rest 30-90 seconds and do 5-10 cycles.
For more on jumping rope, you can check out these articles:
1) 7 Jump Rope Tricks to Challenge Your Fitness
2) 3 Jump Rope Workouts You Must Try
I hope these 7 tips make jumping rope easier for you to learn!
I really like your introduction of using a jump rope. Most people do not know that it is one of the best ways to burn calories. The only problem is it takes some learning and a lot of practice to get really good. After some good hard practice most people who learn will incorporate this into their workout. A good thing to point out is to try to use it on a cushion surface and flexible sneakers to avoid wear and tear on the knees.
@Jeff Toscano – Thanks for your input. I definitely agree proper footwear and jumping on a soft surface is a smart idea.
@Dave – I definitely love the jump rope as a warm up. It really helps get the blood flowing for a tough workout.
I like to start every workout with the jump rope because, especially in the mornings, it’s a fast paced warm-up to wake me up and set the tone for the rest of the workout
Jumping rope effectively gives you a measure of endurance that is difficult to equal. I swam competively in college and nothing was more daunting than our jump rope exercises.
I like to jump rope because there are MANY things I can do with it, with the Double Unders being my favorite. But every time I jump rope, my shoulders seem to hurt, even though I am only using my wrists to turn the rope. I don’t know what is wrong. Do you think you can help? It always stops me around 100, and it’s making me want to quit jumping rope, even if I like it a lot.
@Anthony – When you say your shoulders “hurt” I’m taking it to mean that you are experiencing muscle burn in your shoulders, which is preventing you from continuing to jump rope. When I get in great jumping rope shape, the part of my body that is the most fatigued are my shoulders. With that said, if you are using a light jump rope like a Valeo jump rope, that has the right length (your arms are comfortably bent at your sides with your wrists about waist level, or slightly above waist level, not too low) your shoulders should not hurt as much. Also, if you do jumping rope at the end of a tough weight training workout, that can effect your shoulders a lot. Finally, you should be holding on to the jump rope lightly. If you are holding the jump rope too firmly, that can tense up your upper arms and shoulders. Hope this helps!
Thanks Marc, I was actually talking about the burn in my shoulders. I realized that my grip on the jump rope was too tight. I loosened up a bit, and it felt all better. It burned just a little, but it’s not enough to stop me from jumping rope! Thanks again.
@Anthony – That’s awesome. Happy I could be helpful.
hey the crazy jump rope thing was the most COOL thing ever
Hey Marc, thanks to your article/video I finally learned how to jump rope and not look stupid, except when I tried to do it backwards and ended up with lash marks on my arms and legs. I never learned how to do it right when I was a kid and I always watched in awe at people doing it at the gym. I look forward to more jumproping tips/ tricks.
Jumping rope is fun but easy… really want a challenge? lol learn how to hula hoop! hahahaha!
I’m a girl and I’ve been doing jump rope as a cardio for half a year now. I noticed that after 25min of jump rope around 4x a week my stomach gets bigger, not smaller. It seems like the fat tissue gets smaller, but stomach muscles get bigger. Being a girl I want to have a slim waist I would like to do jump rope but time shows me it will not make me slimmer. Or maybe I am doing something wrong? I don’t eat before work out and drink around 1liter of water usually after jump rope. The stomach thing does not disappear until I change cardio into swimming/running/dancing,ect. Any suggestions what is happening or how to avoid having this problem?
@Natalie – I wish I could give you a definitive answer. A couple things that jump out at me are (1) you may not be contracting your abs when you are jumping rope (2) if you eat right before jumping rope, maybe it’s upsetting your stomach a bit, which is forcing it to distend. Finally, maybe it’s just your perception, which may or may not be accurate. Try measuring your waist to see if there is actually a change occurring. I’ve never heard of someone’s waist size increasing from jumping rope.
that is very cool. it did alot for me, thanx
hey marc it was really a very helpful guidance..thankz for that..but i have another problem…i can jump fast but at the same time i cant rotate the ropes faster,,,am unable to bring in the synchronisation between my jumps and my wrist movements…is any quick cool tip available for that!!!!it would be really helpful.
@Ck – I wish there was, other than to make sure you have a good jump rope. Jump ropes like some leather jump ropes I’ve found can be difficult to snap quickly if the band is too light. I would suggest using a valeo, or buddy lee aero jump rope. If that’s not the problem, only suggestion I can make is to practice and time yourself to try to do more and more reps for a given time period.
Great post! I hit the weights hard 6-days per week and always start with a 10-min continuous Jump Rope session. I find this completely warms your body up and will prevent injuries on the weight floor.
After years of running and cutting weight for Wrestling and Combat sports, I`m not into doing serious cardio, just enough to keep my heart in shape and cardio conditioning good. Trying to pack on muscle at this time.
Your posts are great, obviously from someone who takes training seriously and providing expert advice.
GREAT article on jumping rope (exactly what I needed to read!). I was looking for something to get me started because I read somewhere that one can burn over 700 calories per hour using this exercise.
Brilliant article on jumping rope Marc, got a rope coming in th post, but I have a question related to workouts in general. I am 17 and I was told that to gain muscle i need calories/carbs as well as extra protein. So if I was to try and do weights and jump rope, would I be losing too many calories by jumping rope, and therefore, gaining less muscle? Thanks, Lloyd.
@Lloyd – If you do 10 minutes of jump rope before/during your workout, that’s won’t have much of an impact on your ability to build muscle. Of course, you do still need to create a calorie surplus by eating more calories than you burn, so you may need to up your calories if you do jump rope, but my guess is it won’t make that much of an impact. the challenge is when someone like a runner who runs 10 miles per day wants to gain muscle, that type of aerobic activity can seriously affect muscle gain potential.
Marc, you said in your video that it is a lot better to use your wrists, but wouldn’t it build more muscle in your arms and upper body if you did it the other way? Thanks
@sam – I don’t view jumping rope as a muscle building exercise, but it could certainly help add a little muscle. In addition, just because the wrist action is emphasized does not mean you won’t feel the exercise intensely in your arms and shoulders. In fact, my shoulders often get tired before my lungs do when I jump rope. The idea is for your jump rope form to be efficient, so there is no wasted energy. This allows you to do it a bit longer so you can get the most out of it. If you use too much of your arms, you will get so tired you may not be able to enjoy the benefits of the exercise.
I’m sorry to keep you hopping with the Q’s, but I also researched on Wikipedia and found that there are some health risks, and I wanted to know if they knew what they were talking about. ‘In contrast to running, jumping rope is unlikely to lead to knee damage since the impact of each jump or step is absorbed by the balls of both feet rather than the heels. This decreases the ground reaction forces through the patella-femoral joint greatly.’ Thanks.
@sam – that is possible. Running is a complicated subject because of the footwear people use and the running form, so comparing jumping rope to running is like comparing apples to oranges.
i have just started jumping rope but i don’t know how many reps should i be doing to start with?
Can skipping increase height ? Can it increase lengh of shin bone or the calf muscles ?
The short answer is no – skipping can not increase height or bone length. At a certain age (usually between ages 18-21 for men), your bones stop growing and you reach your adult height. That said, one way to appear taller is to work on your posture. Standing with good posture can make you look taller and more confident. If you’re interested in improving your posture, you should try this workout to fix muscular imbalances while building total body strength. If you try the workout, let us know how it goes!
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
Can anyone give advice for calf muscle pain the following day after skipping?
Hi Lisa – if you still feel pain, see a doctor or physical therapist as they are qualified to work with someone in pain. It may be muscle soreness which may subside in a few days, but a doctor can give you a proper diagnosis.
Thank u, it was gone few days later. I had lazy calf muscles that probably never got a workout quite like they did that day haha!!