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.


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.


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