A Complete Guide To Jumping Rope: How To, Benefits & Tips For Beginners
If the last time you picked up a jump rope was on the playground, you're missing out on the serious full-body benefits of jump roping in your adult years. The sport requires very little space, you can do it just about anywhere (think home, outdoors, or in the gym), and you only need two minutes to get started. And no, you don't need to do the fancy footwork you've seen on TikTok to get the benefits.
Does the mere idea of jump roping still exhaust you? Hang with us…it's much more accessible than it may seem (after all, kids can do it, right?). Here's exactly how to get started.
How to jump rope.
Whether you skipped rope as a kid or not, a refresher on form and equipment can help you maximize the results you get from jump roping and make it feel easier. To start, you'll want to get a quality jump rope that's sized for you. "If you find yourself tripping over your rope, it's either too long or too short for you," says Dan Witmer, co-founder of Jump Rope Dudes, a jump-roping community with over one million subscribers on YouTube.
"I highly recommend an adjustable rope, especially if you're ordering a rope without trying it in person," says Kelsey Stalter, NASM-certified personal trainer and Equinox AK! Rope instructor. "It allows you to play with different lengths and see what feels good. To check the length, step on the rope with both feet and pull the handles vertically, straight up to the sky. The tip tops of the handles should hit right above your armpit, right below your shoulder," she says.
Crossrope also sells high-quality ropes that you can purchase based on your height for the perfect fit.
Make sure you're wearing sneakers with a sturdy sole to protect your feet and ankles. Once you're set on equipment, practice proper form before trying a full workout.
Proper jump roping form:
- Start with your feet and knees together, elbows bent 90 degrees and pulled in at your waist, says Stalter. Your lower abdominals stay lifted to support your low back, and your knees and ankles should stay soft so they can absorb the impact.
- "The biggest secret is in your wrists," says Stalter. "Keep your forearms still and make little circles with your wrists. The rope will only go as fast as your hands."
- If you use your arms too much, the rope doesn't have a center point to rotate from, which can actually make it more challenging, explains Witmer.
Tips for beginners.
If you're just getting started, don't be discouraged if your first couple of tries aren't perfect. These tips will help you achieve Rocky Balboa vibes in no time.
Find your rhythm.
"Think 'hit, jump, hit, jump,'" suggests Stalter. Having this mantra run through your head as you jump can help you stay on track. "The 'hit' is the jump rope on the floor; the 'jump' is you landing." Jumping to music can also help you find the rhythm, she suggests. Currently on her playlist? "'Shiver' by Ed Sheeran has a really solid beat."
If you tell yourself you're about to do a 10-minute jump-rope workout, the mental hurdle alone may be enough to leave you already feeling defeated. Instead, use intervals to break things up. Start with 30 seconds and build up to jumping for an entire song, suggests Stalter. You can also focus on speed within those intervals. "How many jumps can you do in 30 seconds?"
Many people make the mistake of jumping too high, says Witmer. "Proper form is 1 to 2 inches off the ground. This will help prevent injury. If you're jumping too high, over time it can put too much pressure on your joints," he explains. Not to mention, it can make your jumps less efficient, leaving you spent from your workout early on.
Health benefits of jump rope:
It's low-impact cardio.
While you might think of traditional jumping movements as high-impact, actually "jump rope is great low-impact cardio," explains Stalter. "When using proper jump mechanics, you barely leave the ground. This makes it easier on your body than running."
It's adaptable for all fitness levels.
When you're just starting out, you'll want to try just two to five minutes every other day, making jump rope a super-accessible exercise. Ready for more? "Throw in some jacks and boxer shuffles to challenge your coordination," suggests Stalter.
You can also try out a weighted jump rope to build strength, says Witmer. Increasing and decreasing your speed and time also make jump roping a scalable workout for all levels.
It feels more like play.
If you're bored with your standard gym routine or just need more playfulness in your life, jump roping can make working out feel less serious. "It's a fun way to work out, especially if you're matching music to the beat of the rope. So for people looking for an alternative way to exercise outside of going to the gym, it's great," says Witmer. Plus, having fun can benefit your health, too.
It could improve your coordination.
You may be hesitant to try jump roping because of the coordination involved, but rest assured, jump roping can actually help you build this skill. One study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that when a group of volleyball players added jump roping to their training routines, they saw significant increases in measures of coordination1. The results were even more pronounced for those that used a weighted jump rope.
You'll get a serious full-body workout.
Jump roping is a total body workout that lights up muscles that probably don't get used in other areas of your life. You'll activate major muscle groups, like your glutes, quads, and core but also your calves, hamstrings, obliques, forearms, and shoulders.
It can make you a faster runner.
Runners can often get caught up in sticking to running as their only form of cardio, but venturing outside the box may actually help overall performance. A 2020 study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance2 found that when people included jump roping in their warm-up two to four times a week for a weekly total of just 10 to 20 minutes a week, they improved their 3K time after 10 weeks.
It supports your flexibility.
Sure, yoga may be a more traditional practice for getting flexible, but jump roping can help, too. In one study published in Children, a group of researchers found that adolescents significantly improved measures of flexibility3 after completing a 12-week jump-rope-based after-school program three times a week for 45 minutes. While you may not be able to join an after-school jump rope club (sigh), you can still get the benefits at home.
It could improve your bone density.
Weight-bearing exercise is the gold standard for building strong bones, but jump roping may be a contender: when a team of Olympic synchronized swimmers added jump roping to their training twice a week for 20 minutes, they increased bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, hips, and femoral neck. The researchers concluded jump roping may help support bone health4 in artistic swimmers, whose sport doesn't typically promote bone development.
It's a form of moving meditation.
If there's one thing you can't do while you jump rope, it's lose your focus. "Jump rope is a great mindful practice," says Stalter. "The balance and coordination of jump rope really challenge your focus. In order to build up longer periods of uninterrupted jumps, you need to stay fully present in the moment."
It's also an exercise for your brain.
And speaking of your mind, your brain will reap the benefits, too. When you learn a new skill, your brain actually creates new neural activity patterns, according to research in PNAS. "[Jump roping] is a skill that can evolve and grow with you. How often do we, as adults, take the opportunity to learn something new? Try some fancy footwork and keep practicing until you nail it," says Stalter.
For a full-body workout that challenges your body, brain, and idea of what exercise should be, jump rope packs it all in. Ready to get started? Grab a rope and try this five-minute jump rope routine.
Sara Angle is a writer, editor, and content strategist specializing in health and fitness. She is a graduate of Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Magna Cum Laude, and concentrated studies in Journalism. She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer. Her work has appeared in SHAPE, SELF, Outside Magazine, Well Good, Healthline, Men's Journal, and more.