Jumping Rope

While recovering from a nasty bout of tendonitis these days, I have been using a jump rope as my primary means of cardiovascular exercise. The benefits of jumping rope are seemingly endless.

One of the best things about it is that it requires a miniscule investment (perhaps about $20 if you really want to go fancy). The only thing better than an awesome workout is one that you basically do not have to pay for. Jump rope fits the bill on that level. You don't need a fancy gym or expensive equipment for a jump rope workout, you merely need a length of rope heavy enough to swing over your head repeatedly. It's great!

Also great is the fact that jumping rope takes up almost no space whatsoever. If you have high ceilings, you can do it in your home. Otherwise, you can do it in your front yard. If you live somewhere cold and snowy, you can clear the snow off a small patch of sidewalk and you're good to go. If you're travelling, a jump rope fits easily into a bag or suitcase of any size - it takes up about as much room as a tube of toothpaste or a can of shaving cream. Naturally, this also means that you won't have to waste precious storage space in your own home on a jump rope. It will fit in any closet or cupboard, no matter how small.

What I have yet to mention is how great a workout it is - perhaps one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise you can get. What's so great about a jump rope workout? Not only does it elevate your heart rate and get your lungs pumping, it also requires movement from your arms, legs, and abdominal muscles. It is truly a full-body cardiovascular workout. Not bad for $20.

Of course, like any form of cardio exercise, you'll need to put in the time. As great a workout as jumping rope can be, you still have to spend time doing it, and once you get comfortable with the basic motion, your body's quest for economy of motion will enable you to slack-off, sometimes without even knowing it. Luckily for you, Stationary Waves has you covered. I now present...

A Stationary Waves Guide To Jumping Rope - Beginners
If you're "new" to jumping rope (meaning, if you haven't tried it since grade school), you may find yourself badly uncoordinated. This justifies a slightly different initial approach to jumping rope.

First, accept that you will "trip up" a bit. You won't smoothly and flawlessly glide over your rope as it whizzes around your body. You won't be a pro. Come to terms with this early and don't feel bad when you trip. Just keep going. The purpose of what you're doing is to get a cardiovascular workout, so don't stop until you're done.

Second, prepare yourself for how difficult it is to learn a new form of cardio. When you attempt your first jump rope workout, you will be exhausted because you're not used to it.

Therefore, I recommend starting with 15-20 minutes of jumping rope. You may find this easy or you may find it difficult, but just get through it. That should be your initial goal. It doesn't matter how you do it, it doesn't have to look pretty, and you don't have to force yourself to go rapidly. Again, the goal is to just complete the workout any way you can.

Once you've done that a couple of times, you will probably start to feel more comfortable, and you can increase the length of your workout as needed.

A Stationary Waves Guide To Jumping Rope - Intermediate
Here's a great workout I do to keep myself interested for a full 45 minute jump roping session.

The four basic jump roping motions we are going to use in this workout are as follows:
  1. "Standard," single-jump, feet together jump-roping
  2. Same as #1 above, but slower - add a hop in between each major jump while the rope is travelling over your head.
  3. "Running-in-place," or jumping from one foot to the next each time you jump over the rope
  4. "Skipping rope:" Same as #3, but add a little hop on the same leg you just jumped on while the rope is travelling over your head.
The reader will note that there are two "fast" motions and two "slow" motions. This makes for a perfect interval-style workout.

Here's what you do: Set your timer for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or however long you plan on jumping rope. Begin with motion #1, and continue that way until you miss the rope. When you start again, perform motion #2 as a recovery of sorts. Continue that way until you miss the rope again, then move to motion #3 for as long as you can go, until you miss the rope. Then recover again with motion #4.

Repeat this process as many times as you need for the full workout. You will find that at the beginning of the workout, you will spend more time in the recovery phases because these motions are easier to perform. As your body tires, though, you will find yourself missing the rope even during the recovery motions, and sometimes only after a jump or two. This means that you will eventually reach a point where you are spending more time jumping quickly than jumping slowly.

It really works. It's a great workout.

A Stationary Waves Guide To Jumping Rope - Advanced
As you develop your jump-roping technique, you may find the above workouts insufficient. The way to approach an advanced jump rope session is much the same as you would approach any other form of cardiovascular exercise: either increase the time you spend jumping rope (do it for 60 minutes, as opposed to 30, for example) or increase the rate at which you jump.

In either case, a straight-ahead session of jumping rope or an elaborate interval will both suffice for you to get a great workout, provided you are actually challenging yourself.

In the end, it is only the process of challenging yourself that makes for a good workout, anyway.

Happy jumping!


  1. I used to jump rope a lot, but I could never get myself to do it for more than 20min. at a time. The problem is that I get bored easily. I mean, I was always in the "beginner" stage because I never did it consistently, but I'd jump rope for about 20min. a day maybe 3 to 4 times a day. I want to get back into it. It's not necessarily motivation; I can use the elliptical or treadmill for an hour or more. Is there any disadvantage to doing it my way (several short spurts)?

    1. Exercise is a lot like playing a musical instrument, in that the way you practice is the way you "perform." There's nothing wrong with short spurts per se, except that you probably won't get to the point where you can jump rope for an hour.

      If that's your goal, my recommendation is to start with something you know you can do - like 20 minutes - and then increase by 1 minute every day. After one month, you'll be up to 50 minutes. Small, imperceptible, but significant increases are the best way to build endurance, IMHO.

      But on the other hand, it's not as if 20 minutes of jumping rope is a bad workout! I'd say if you can work your way up to 30 minutes, then you're getting a great cardio workout. If you feel you need more, just try going faster/harder or using a weighted jumprope. :)

      I jump rope outside, so that the sights and sounds of the neighborhood keep me interested. I admit that it's very hard not to lose interest if you're staring at the wall. You can see if more variation helps: Swing the rope "backwards," try to swing it twice in one jump, side-to-side, etc. Try to come up with a pattern that demands a bit more attention from your mind. It still might not work, but it's worth a try... ;)