It's pretty legit—even if you haven't picked up a jump rope in years.

By Mallory Creveling, ACE-CPT
April 17, 2020
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Gyms are closed across the country due to the spread of COVID-19, but experts still suggest you keep up a regular exercise routine. Countless benefits come from moving your body and breaking a sweat, including a mood boost, instant energy, and general health gains. One fun way to enhance those advantages: Try a jump rope workout, a form of physical activity even the World Health Organization suggests adding to your exercise line-up.

“Jumping rope is a total-body exercise,” says Tim Haft, ACE-CPT, founder of Punk Rope, an exercise studio that focuses specifically on jump rope classes. “It strengthens the calves, hamstrings, quads, pecs, delts, latissimus dorsi [back], biceps, and abs.” This form of exercise also increases your strength endurance, he says, meaning your muscles can maintain tension for a while, without losing efficiency—aka you can work harder, for longer. The payoffs don’t stop there. Jumping rope also tests your cardio system, challenging your heart and lungs, and it calls for improved coordination and agility, Haft adds.

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How to get started with a jump rope workout:

Before you even pick up a jump rope or start using it to jump, Haft and Shana Brady, NASM-CPT, Punk Rope's director of training, suggest two simple drills to get your body primed for jumping.

Shadow Jumping

Shadow jumping basically just means fake jumping rope. Start with your feet close together and weight on the balls of your feet. Bring your elbows in close to your ribs, head up, eyes gazing straight ahead, and your hands slightly in front of your hips. Then begin gently jumping up and down, leaving the ground by no more than an inch each time, Haft says. Keep the noise upon landing super soft, gently flexing hips, knees, and ankles.

"The goal here is to establish correct jump rope posture and to begin to establish rhythm and timing," says Haft, who suggests doing this drill while listening to a song that has a consistent tempo of 110 to 120 beats per minute. Some songs to jump around to: Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling," Drake and Rihanna's "Too Good," and The Weeknd's "A Lonely Night." (Or you can just search for a 110-120bpm playlist on Spotify.)

Windmill Swing

For this practice round, fold the jump rope in half and grab both handles in your dominant hand. Use your wrist to spin the rope out in front of you, making small circles. “The path of the rope should be consistently perpendicular to your body—the end of the rope should not slide toward or away from the midline of your body,” Haft says. This drill teaches you to use your wrists to turn the rope, rather than your shoulders. When you master the move with your dominant hand, switch to the other side.

8 tips for mastering jump rope technique:

Haft says people tend to make a few mistakes when they jump rope, which can up the risk of injury. Take note of these jump rope tips—both things to avoid and how to do the exercise properly—so you can get the best possible workout:

  1. Avoid jumping too high.
  2. Use your wrists to turn the rope, not your arms.
  3. Don’t jump too early; let the rope come to you.
  4. Don’t straighten your arms as the rope comes toward your feet—keep a bend in your elbows.
  5. Make sure your hands are in front of your hips to turn the rope.
  6. Distribute the weight of the rope between both hands. Try not to do all the turning with your dominant hand.
  7. Double check that the length of the rope isn’t too long or too short. It should reach from your armpits to the floor.
  8. Start slow and give your body a chance to get used to the movement before you turn up the speed and test your skills.

Your 20-minute jump rope workout:

Take five minutes to actively warm up (and don’t forget to cool down after the workout). You can take a few minutes to warm up and cool down with the rope, too, to get the rhythm down. Once you start the workout, you'll do 90 seconds of jump rope work, paired with rest intervals and bodyweight-only exercises, like push-ups, supermen, squats, and lunges. If you need to, feel free to increase the rest time throughout this workout, designed by Haft and Brady. You’ll get better each time you come back to it, so don’t worry if it feels extra tough on the first go around. Focus on technique, but remember to have fun with it, too.

Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong