Benefits and Side Effects of Creatine Supplementation

creatine monohydrate supplementWhat is Creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is a naturally occurring nitrogenous organic acid found in vertebrates that helps supply energy to cells by increasing the formation of adenosine triphosphate. While creatine can be made in a lab, it can also found in high protein foods like fish, eggs and meat. Creatine is naturally produced from the amino acids glycine and arginine

Approximately 95% of the human body’s creatine is located in skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle can only contain a certain threshold before the creatine stops having an effect. Excess is removed via the kidneys. Due to its relative safety and legality, supplementation it is popular among athletes. It’s estimated that Americans in consume more than eight million pounds of creatine monohydrate every year.

What is Creatine Used For?

While creatine has a range of uses, it’s most commonly used by strength and power athletes to improve performance. It is also used by individuals afflicted by syndromes preventing them from metabolizing their own creatine.

The effects of creatine can vary. It is not particularly effective for enhancing endurance. Creatine is allowed by most athletic organizations, including the International Olympic Committee. It is difficult to test for since it’s naturally found in the body, making any hypothetical bans difficult to implement.

Creatine is an important component of energy production, which allows muscles to do their job more effectively. It’s for this reason that the effect of supplementation varies so much between users.

How to Take Creatine

Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most effective form for supplementation. Micronized creatine monohydrate dissolves in water more easily, which can be more practical. While creatine is not recommended for consumption by children or teenagers, it is generally considered safe for adults. Nevertheless, combining creatine with other medications is not recommended, nor is its use with caffeine or ephedra, both of which are diuretics.

The benefits are best realized when combined with a diet high in carbohydrates. Studies have shown that diets high in carbohydrates, combined with ingested creatine, can lead to up to 60% higher levels than simply ingesting creatine by itself.

When beginning supplementation, users typically start with a “loading dose.” The loading dose is twenty grams per day for a total of five days, followed by a dose of two grams per day to maintain creatine levels. When on a supplementation regimen, users are encouraged to also drink at least 64 ounces of water per day.

For those interested in creatine for non-performance related reasons, the number and size of the loading dose can vary substantially. For example, those that are suffering from heart failure should expect to maintain a loading dose of twenty grams for up to ten days instead of the usual five.

Creatine Benefits

Creatine is primarily used by athletes and people suffering from syndromes that make it difficult to naturally metabolize creatine. Research has established a strong correlation between creatine use and physical performance, as well as the presence of anticancer properties. Creatine has been shown in at least one study to protect DNA from oxidative damage from various sources, such as exercise.

Individuals suffering from diabetes might also benefit from supplementing.

There are studies showing high levels of triglycerides being reduced by creatine, and it has also been shown to increase muscular endurance. While there is certainly room for more research to fully understand all effects, it seems to have a very positive effect compared to placebos.

Factors such as the fitness level and age of the person, the type of sport, and the dose all influence the effects of taking creatine. Supplementation doesn’t not seem to enhance performance when it comes to aerobic exercise, not does it seem to benefit older people. Fitness level matters as well, as highly trained athletes typically see no benefits.

While there’s some evidence that loading may be more effective than continuous use, there’s still uncertainty about who can benefit from creatine and at what dose.

Creatine Side Effects

In rare cases, when a pre-existing condition is present, side effects can include damage to kidneys, especially when combined with other medications or ephedra. In the short term — and especially during the loading phase — effects can include stomach pain, diarrhea, muscle cramping, and nausea.

Creatine requires water, so drinking extra water to prevent dehydration is essential.

Sources:

  1. Creatine Supplementation Decreases Oxidative DNA Damage And Lipid Peroxidation Induced By A Single Bout Of Resistance Exercise
  2. Creatine But Not Betaine Supplementation Increases Muscle Phosphorylcreatine Content And Strength Performance
  3. The Effects Of Supplementation With Creatine And Protein On Muscle Strength Following A Traditional Resistance Training Program In Middle-aged And Older Men
  4. The Effects Of Pre Versus Post Workout Supplementation Of Creatine Monohydrate On Body Composition And Strength

Is Zac Efron Using Steroids?

is zac efron using steroidsA recent photograph of Zac Efron as he appears in the new Baywatch movie recently showed up in a thread on Reddit. The haters and naysayers immediately began shouting “steroids” — you can read the comments under this part of the aforementioned thread.

Here’s a few choice selections:

  • At least 1000 calories of trenbolone. (trenbolone is one of the most popular steroids used by bodybuilders)
  • I can only imagine the steroids he’s on. Others are saying he looks like he’s on gear. I don’t disagree.
  • Steroids, my man, steroids. Very unlikely hgh (human growth hormone) since his other proportions haven’t changed, that looks pure anabolic to me.
  • Eat CLEN! TEST yourself! And never give up. Unless you’re out of Anavar (clen is clenbuteral, a drug used for fat loss, test refers to testosterone, and anavar is the trademark name for oxandrolone,  an oral steroid)
  • Test/tren/mast brah (trenbolone, masteron, and testosterone)
  • don’t be jealous. he has a personal trainer, personal chef, and the best steroids man can buy.
  • If you think this dude is natty…… Don’t.

That’s just a sample of all the hate that runs along the same theme — that you can’t look like this without steroids. Yeah, a bunch of people, for most of whom typing is the only exercise they get, who don’t know much about resistance training or nutrition, have decided you can’t look like this without chemical assistance.

Despite this overwhelming opinion, there were a few voices of reason commenting as well:

  • You don’t need drugs to get that physique. If you hang around /r/fitness you’ll see people doing this naturally all the time. It looks amazing and unattainable to /r/movies, because most aren’t educated on fitness. Eat clean (“Oh I can’t be bothered”), train hard (“I’m tired. I want to play video games”), and count calories (“no way I’m doing that!”). That’s why you see so many steroid accusations. They don’t follow the plan and then accuse every lean and muscular person of taking steroids.
  • It’s been two years since Neighbors. He doesn’t have much to do when it comes to body fat. He was already there, for anyone that saw that film. On the body fat part, he just had to maintain and continue what he was doing. In the last two years, most people here look the same. For him, getting paid millions for a role where the shirt must come off in front of millions, he worked out. He’s not Mr. Universe big either. His results are possible after two years of busting ass and sweating hard in the gym.

But these comments promote hard work, knowledge, and dedication, so of course most people poo-poo them.

Now I’m not saying Zac did or did not use performance enhancing drugs, but his look here is achievable naturally, although one probably wouldn’t be able to maintain it indefinitely. While it isn’t easy and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and time in the gym, anyone can do it. Also consider that Zac is 28, which is still pretty young, and 5-feet 8 inches, a great size for bodybuilding.

frank zane at 5'8" 180 poundsThen there’s the whole practice of “peaking”. Peaking refers to the bodybuilding practice of getting into the best condition right at the time of the show. This “best condition” can only usually only be maintained for a few days and is uncomfortable. Despite how “huge” Zac looks, he probably only weighs in around 170 pounds or so.

The picture to the left is Frank Zane, one of the most popular bodybuilders of all time. Frank was 5-feet 8-inches tall and competed at 180 pounds — which is what he weighs in the photo here. Now there’s no doubt Zane used steroids (his nickname was “The Chemist” after all) but the point I’m making here is that a lean person with muscle looks a lot larger than his weight.

Chances are Zac peaked for a week or so, they filmed all the shirtless muscle scenes in that week, and then he went back to a more “normal” diet routine and likely smoothed out. From the thread:

When an actor needs to play someone especially ripped, they basically do the same thing bodybuilders do and cut food/water hard before each shoot. Brad Pitt did the same thing in Fight Club. He’s (Zac) basically like a bodybuilder in show form here, and they don’t stay that way for long because it’s unhealthy and kinda just unpleasant.

stallone in rocky balboa 2006

If you do a search, you can read about how Stallone did this for the film Rocky Balboa. He peaked, shot the fight scenes and workout scenes first, and then eased off and did the rest of the movie. That’s because it’s hard and uncomfortable to stay peaked.

Peaking generally includes restricting calories and fluid intake to maintain that dry, ripped look. Add in some lightweight resistance exercises before the scene, and you get a guy that looks a lot more pumped, veiny, and muscular than he does normally.

huge jacked man If you search for Hugh Jackman and his prep for shooting shirtless scenes for Wolverine, he talks about this too.

I want to add my opinion here that Jackman and Stallone most likely used performance enhancing drugs. Stallone has admitted to using testosterone and HGH. Although Jackman never has, for someone to be so lean and so muscular in his mid forties, there’s probably some chemical assistance. Maybe not, but unlikely. But, again, Zac is only 28.

So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at how Zac got that bod and why, despite his fame and busy schedule, it’s easier for him to do it that you or I. Which is not to say we can’t, of course, just that it’s harder for us since there’s so much involved.

Personal Assistant

No doubt Zac has a personal assistant, maybe even more than one. They handle his schedule, and part of that schedule is gym time, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Heck, it’s probably written into his contracts that a certain amount of time be set aside each day for him to workout.

Personal Trainer

Zac has a personal trainer. And not the personal trainer down at the gym who he meets up with when he shows up for a work out. He probably has a full-time personal trainer that travels with him. It’s this guy’s job to find a workout space that has all the equipment they need as soon as they hit the ground. He’s tracks everything Zac does in the gym, programs his routine, and makes sure the work gets done.

Personal Chef

I’d place money on Zac having a personal chef as well, maybe more than one. Like the trainer and assistant(s) this chef goes everywhere Zac goes. He (or she) and the trainer (and maybe a nutritionist) are joined at the brain to make sure Zac is getting the fuel he needs in perfect proportions to maintain the look he wants. This person spends all day cooking and packing delicious and perfectly proportioned meals for Zac to eat. And that’s all Zac eats. No snacks for Zac.

Nutritionist

The nutritionist might be the personal trainer, it might be the chef, or it might be a whole separate person. But someone is preciously  calculating the nutrients, including macros and calories, in Zac’s diet to keep him looking good. This person might even be taking caliper measurements for body fat, or even ordering and interpreting blood tests to gauge levels of nitrogen (indicating catabolic state) or cortisol (a stress hormone).

Personal Shopper

This one is optional. It might be that the chef does the shopping as well, but he might be busy enough cooking and packing meals for Zac that he has a dedicated shopper whose whole job is to buy the food on the lists he gives him.

Looking Like Zac

So if you want to look like Zac, all you need to to fill the roles of each of the positions above as well as put in the time under the iron and in the gym. If you can do this, you’ll look like Zac in 2 – 3 years. If you don’t have the funds, you can do do it all yourself, but most of us lack the time and knowledge to make that happen.

That’s not to say you can’t make vast improvements in your health and fitness, as well as your appearance. Put in the time, put in the effort, gain the knowledge, do the work, and you can radically change the way you look even if you don’t have the resources of a Hollywood movie star.

And you don’t need steroids to do it.

Bill Starr Rehab Protocol for Muscle Pulls

muscle-strain-rehabLet’s say you went a little too heavy on the bench. Maybe you were feeling strong, wanting to hit that new PR. Whatever the reason, you over-reached and hurt yourself. I’m not talking the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from a hard workout, I’m talking about a tweak to the muscle or tendon that indicates a real injury.

Now what?

First thing: take time off. Wait until the pain diminishes until it down to a 1 or 2 on the 10 scale.  You want to be able to move through a normal range of motion without any increase in pain. Once you’re to that point, you can start to look at rehabbing. It might take a week or even longer to reach that point.

You want to do an exercise that directly works the injury, in this case the bench press. Start with the empty bar and do 3 sets of 20 with perfect form and at a steady pace. Do NOT favor the injury. Pay attention to your level of pain. If pain increases, then it’s not ready to be rehabbed. If it stays the same or actually feels a little better as you keep going, it’s ready to work.

Do the same thing again the next day, only this time add a small amount of weight, like 5 pounds on each side. Same three sets for 20 reps. Keep up this routine, continuing to add a small amount of weight every day.

It will hurt, but it shouldn’t hurt too much. There’s a difference between rehab pain and re-injury. If you can’t tell the difference, you will soon enough if you keep going.

This purpose of this rehab method is to flush blood through the injury while forcing the tissue to reorganize in its normal pattern of contractile architecture and it’s normal range of motion.

After 10 days of this, go up in weight and down in reps to 15s, the 10s, then finally to fives. Same three sets. During this time do no other heavy work so that your resources can focus on the injury. You should be healed up and back at you original weight in about 2 – 3 weeks.

This method can prevent scar formation since the muscle is forced to heal in the context of work and normal contraction and through the movement pattern it normally uses. The important points are:

  • perfect form with light weights that can be handled for high reps
  • every day for two to three weeks
  • no other heavy work that will interfere with the system-wide processes of healing

It is important to use ice through the whole process, immediately after the workouts. Start with 20 minutes on/20 minutes off 5 times a day or more initially, slowly tapering to after the workout and before bed. Ice inhibits inflammation and swelling while at the same time increasing blood flow.

Scar Formation

Here’s an article in Medical News Today about scar formation:

  • When the body is injured it sends fibroblasts to the area.
  • Initially it grows within the clot to help stop the bleeding and connect the two sides of the tear
  • The fibroblasts grow stiffer over time, and eventually contract to pull the sides together

Referenced Paper: Pierre-Jean Wipff, Daniel B. Rifkin, Jean-Jacques Meister and Boris Hinz, “Myofibroblast contraction activates latent TGF-b from the extracellular matrix“, Journal of Cell Biology, December 17, 2007.

The Bill Star Rehab Protocol

Knowing that:

  • scar tissue is formed through natural healing processes using the fibroblasts
  • that full range of motion in the injured area helps the fibroblasts do its job more efficiently
  • blood flow though the area flushes out inflammation, fluids, and repair byproducts and
  • provides fresh oxygen, blood, etc. to the area

The combination of the mechanical motion of the light weight reps and increased blood flow provides favorable conditions for minimizing scar tissue.

The important aspect is to do the rehab protocol and no other work.

Scale the weight to match to your strength levels. You don’t have to go up every workout, but there should be a steady increase in resistance over time.

The best way to judge when you are ready for rehab is when there is no increase in pain when competing the motion/exercise that caused the injury.

Bill Starr Biography: How he Revolutionized Strength Training and Conditioning

bill starrCoach William A. Starr had an enormous influence on athletic training, and his workouts, in both their original and modified forms, still remain popular today. Coach Starr is credited with the creation of what has become the modern strength and conditioning industry. With nicknames ranging from Poppa to Starr-Man to Crazy, Bill Starr has earned the affectionate respect of his followers for his strong emphasis on effort. He taught athletes that hard work matters just as much – if not more – than native talent. Athletes everywhere have experienced a revolution in training because of his methods.

Bill Starr’s Career

Bill Starr began his life as an athlete, but later became a coach and writer. He was one of the original pioneers of York Barbell in the 1950s, and he was both a powerlifting competitor and an Olympic lifter. He went from being an Olympian to being a coach. He coached an Olympic team and also served as a coach and strength trainer for college athletes at SMU, the University of Hawaii, the University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University.

Coach Starr worked with the professionals, too. In fact, he became one of the very first strength and conditioning coaches in the National Football League. In 1970, he went to work for the Baltimore Colts in that capacity, and he also worked for the Houston Oilers.

In addition to being an athlete and a coach, Starr was also a writer. In fact, he helped kick off the idea of the training article in sports magazines.

He moved to York, Pennsylvania in 1966 to work as an assistant editor for Strength and Health magazine. He has also written for Iron Man, MILO and numerous other magazines. Starr is perhaps most famous for his 1976 book The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football. Another of his titles, Defying Gravity: How to Win at Weightlifting, is a book about the art of power lifting and how to prepare for contests. These two fitness books cover everything from reps, lifts, and sets to nutrition, injury, and sleep, and they have been the bible of many weightlifters and contact sports athletes.

Starr even took a foray into fiction writing, with a bulky 725-page tome called the Susquehanna River Hills Chronicles.

The 5X5

Coach Starr is perhaps best known for his invention of the 5X5 workout, which has been modified to suit beginners, intermediate lifters, and advanced lifters. The original workout is still used by many.

Under Bill Starr’s 5X5 routine, weightlifters start out on the first day (typically a Monday) with heavy lifting. The routine is as follows:

  • 5 sets of 5 power cleans
  • 5 sets of 5 bench (the lifter adds 10 rep sets after the first eight week on the program)
  • 5 sets of 5 squats

Bill-Starr 5x5 workoutThe lifter increases the weights from set to set by ten to twenty pounds. So, for example, he might start with 5 power cleans at 125, then 5 at 145, then 5 a 155, then five at 165, and then 5 at 185.

Each week, the lifter increases the power clean and bench by five pounds and the squat by ten pounds, but only if he has successfully completed the required number of reps the previous week.

This first heavy day is meant to set the pace for the entire week. The remainder of the week will depend upon what the lifter accomplishes on this day.

The second day is a rest day. The third day, which will be Wednesday assuming the routine is started on Monday, is a light lifting day. Lifters use the weight from the third set on day one as the top weight for day three. The lifter then engages in the following exercises:

  • 5 sets of 5 power cleans
  • 5 sets of 5 incline bench presses
  • 5 sets of 5 squats

The fourth day is another rest day. On day five, which will be Friday if the routine was started on Monday, the athlete pursues a medium lifting routine. This means using the weight from the fourth set on day one as the top weight and engaging in the following exercises:

  • 5 sets of 5 power cleans
  • 5 sets of 5 overhead presses
  • 5 sets of 5 squats

The Big III

Coach Starr also developed what is known as the Big III workout, which is a 3X3 power training routine. The “three” refers to three specific exercises – squat, bench, and dead lift – conducted on an eight week cycle in two phases. The goal of the first, high volume phase is to improve coordination, build muscle mass, and enhance technique. The second, competition phase is geared toward increasing power and strength and improving the lifter’s technique with the use of heavy weights.

Lifters first figure out what their maximum is in each exercise and then add 25 pounds to the squat, 15 pounds to the dead lift, and 10 pounds to the bench press for a projected maximum. Take that projected maximum (PM) figure and use the following formulas to calculate the weight for week one:

  • squat: 0.58 X PM
  • deadlift: 0.58 x PM
  • bench press: 0.58 x PM

Each week, the multiplier changes, so that it is 0.6 for week two, 0.62 for week three, and 0.64 for week four.

Phase II is a bit more complicated. The lifter will need to use different multipliers for different days and weeks, as outlined below:

Week 1

  • squat: day 1 and 2, 0.6 x PM; day 3, 0.8 x PM
  • deadlift: day 1, 0.8 x PM; day 2 and 3, 0.6 x PM
  • bench press: day 1, 0.6 x PM; day 2, 0.8 x PM; day 3, 0.6 x PM

Week 2

  • squat: day 1 and 2, 0.6 x PM; day 3, 0.85 x PM
  • deadlift: day 1, 0.85 x PM; day 2 and 3, 0.6 x PM
  • bench press: day 1, 0.6 x PM; day 2, 0.85 x PM; day 3, 0.6 x PM

Week 3

  • squat: day 1 and 2, 0.6 x PM; day 3, 0.9 x PM
  • deadlift: day 1, 0.9 x PM; day 2 and 3, 0.6 x PM
  • bench press: day 1, 0.6 x PM; day 2, 0.9 x PM; day 3, 0.6 x PM

Week 4

  • squat: day 1 and 2, 0.6 x PM; day 3, 0.95 x PM
  • deadlift: day 1, 0.95 x PM; day 2 and 3, 0.6 x PM
  • bench press: day 1, 0.6 x PM; day 2, 0.95 x PM; day 3, 0.6 x PM

For more details on Bill Starr’s workouts, including spreadsheets for calculating sets, reps, and cycles, see:

Jumping Rope for Exercise

jumping rope for exerciseJumping rope is a fantastic and easy-to-do exercise that provides a host of benefits, combining a cardiovascular workout with strength training, balance, and coordination.

In fact, jumping rope is nothing new to today’s exercise gurus; it actually dates back to Medieval times. Over the centuries different variations have been added, such as various skips and patterns. Getting started with jump roping is also easy to do since all you need is a jump rope and enough room to swing it.

History of Jumping Rope

Jumping is a natural, explosive movement that engages all the muscles of the body, especially the legs and core.

The first instances of jumping rope can be traced to the Medieval time period through a painting of children jumping rope on a cobblestone street in Europe. Jumping rope spread from Europe to the Netherlands and eventually to North America. Early Dutch settlers were the first Americans to jump rope. This is where we get the term, “Double Dutch.”

In the 1940’s and 1950s, jumping rope gained popularity due to the influx of people moving from the country to cities. With more time available, people had more time for play and leisure. Jumping rope was the perfect game: all that was needed was a rope — the streets and sidewalks provided the perfect platform. Children, especially girls, added patterns to the skips and rhymes to make jumping rope more fun.

In more recent years, with the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts both as a sport and a hobby, jumping rope has gained the attention of fitness advocates. It’s now a popular component of Pilates, kickboxing, yoga, boot camps, and many other workout routines.

Types of Jump Roping

There are many types of jump roping. Some include having two people turn the rope, while others are meant for just one person. Below describes 5 main types of jump roping:

Double Dutch

Double Dutch is where two people hold two ropes and swing them in an egg beater fashion. This is the type of jump roping where many rhymes are repeated during the jumps while a third person jumps in and out of the ropes. Double dutch jump ropes are longer than regular ropes.

Acro-Jumping

This an an artistic type of jump roping that is used by teams of jump ropers or individuals who come up with highly coordinated routines that emphasize expression and skills. Acro-jumping is mainly a sport in the rhythmic gymnastics part of the women’s Olympics.

Speed Jumping

Just as the name implies, the goal of speed jumping is to jump rope as fast as possible in a given length of time. A speed rope is lighter and stiffer than a regular rope and often has bearing or swivels at the handles to aid with spinning. The length of time can vary depending on if you’re an individual trying to increase your endurance, or a team of jump ropers are competing in a competition. Speed jump roping is better for developing coordination and conditioning.

Weighted Jump Roping

In weighted jump roping, you use a rope that weighs more than a normal rope. In using a weighted rope, you increase strength and burn more calories, thus increasing weight loss. Weighted jump ropes can range from one pound on up. Want a tough workout? Grab a five pound rope and jump it for a few minutes. Weighted ropes are especially popular with people training in martial arts.

Power Jumping

Power jumping can greatly increase your stamina because it adds in squats while jump roping. You start with your feet together, then you jump outwards so that your feet are wider than your hips. Here you add in a squat, then rise up and jump your feet together.

Health Benefits of Jumping Rope

Coordination: Because you have to jump at just the right time, you develop coordination. If you add in more complicated skips or patterns, you are adding to your coordination skills, making this an excellent mind-body exercise.

Cardiovascular Endurance: Jumping for a sustained amount of time is difficult. The more you do it, however, the more endurance your muscles and heart build.

Strength: It takes not only leg and calve muscles to jump, but also core body strength to balance while you’re jumping. Your hands, arms and shoulders also get a work out as you turn the rope.

Weight Loss: Jump roping burns a great number of calories — as many as running. Adding muscle tone to your body also increases the amount of calories burned while at rest. Thus, jumping rope is an excellent exercise to help you burn calories and lose weight.

Getting Started

If you think you’re ready to jump into the world of jumping rope and experience its health benefits, visit your local sporting goods store or shop online for a jump rope that fits your needs. There are jump ropes that are simple for beginners, as well as more advanced options for speed jumping and weighted jumping.

ring timer interval timer
Ring Timer

Start slow — it going to be more of a workout than you’re expecting. Any easy way to get going is to start by counting skips. Start with three sets of 50 skips with 1 minute of rest between and try to work your way up to 5 sets of 300. Once you have experience, a good rate is about 100 skips per minutes, so 5 sets would take about 20 minutes counting 1 minutes rest.

You can also get an inexpensive ring timer and jump rope like a boxer. Start with 1 round and try to work your way up to 5.

The Right Length

jumpsizeIt’s important to make sure the rope you’re using is the proper length. If it’s too long and it will slow you down and require more force to swing. Too short and you won’t be able to easily jump through it.

When you jump over the rope, the rope should make contact with the floor a few inches in front of your feet. If it doesn’t, the rope is too short. If the cord hits the floor to far in front of your feet, the rope is too long.

A good way to check rope length is to stand on the center of the rope while pulling the handles upwards. The handle tips should reach your armpits.

Here’s a handy chart that provides some average guidelines. Depending on the length of your legs and arms, you might have to adjust, but this chart is a good place to start.

Your Height Jump Rope Length
4’10” to 5’3″ 8ft
5’4″ to 5’10” 9ft
5’11” to 6’5″ 10ft
6’6″ + 11ft

Best Rope Materials

  • Licorice (flexible and light)
  • PVC/Vinyl Plastic (flexible and medium heavy)
  • Cable/Wire (lightest and most stiff)

The best basic material is either PVC plastic or vinyl. Either one is great for beginning and advanced jumpers. You can pick up a basic jump rope for about $10. If you’re a more advanced jumper or are interested in speed, wire or cable is your best option.

Jump Rope Materials to Avoid

Rope: tends to be too light, making it hard to get rhythm. Depending on your jump surface, it can also wear out and break.

Leather: leather tends to be heavy and tends to stretch. Like rope, it can also wear out and break.

Beads: Beaded ropes tend to be the heaviest (except for weights ropes). That makes them great for doing free style tricks, but they can be require too much effort for beginners. The beads also wear out over time as they rub against your jumping surface.

If you’re interested in a quick and easy way to get a great workout, jumping rope might be right for you.