In muscle-building circles, the jump rope is almost as unpopular as the pull-up bar and for about the same reason—because you can look like a total tool if you never do it. That's too bad because the jump rope, like the pull-up, offers a host of benefits that people have chosen to ignore for fear of looking stupid. In addition to melting away bodyfat at record rates, the jump rope helps you build those stubborn calves while also putting a hurting on several other muscle groups.
"Yes, the main muscles that you're working are your calves but you activate a lot more muscle than you may think," says Brian Peeler, NASM-CPT and trainer on Bravo's hit reality show Workout. "But you're also using your shoulders—particularly your rear delts—as well as your abs, quads, hamstrings. Pretty much every muscle is firing when doing this exercise to keep your body stable."
Need more incentive for learning how to work the rope like Rocky and Apollo? Consider that jumping rope at a moderate pace will burn approximately 16 calories per minute for a 200-pound man. Work that into 10 three-minute rounds and you're looking at 480 calories during your session. The one-minute rest periods characteristic of boxing routines provide somewhat of an interval effect, giving you an even greater calorie burn long after your final skip.