Everyone wants to be leaner, so everyone does (or at least should do) cardio. But the treadmill gets old, the bike can get a little chafe-y and the stepmills are all taken. When traditional cardio methodologies fail you – or bore you – just grab your jump rope out of your bag, find some open space and go to town. This simple piece of equipment is one of the most versatile yet effective tools in your quest to get leaner, only the benefits don’t stop there.

We may never convince you to completely abandon your other forms of cardio but here, we make a strong case for why you should be mixing this type of training into your normal routine.


Traditionally, jumping rope falls under the category of cardiovascular exercise.  When jump ropes are used for longer duration sessions, you can burn a lot calories. The great thing about varying your jump rope training to include shorter, high-intensity interval sets (especially with a weighted rope) is that you are getting much higher muscle activation and recruiting more muscle fibers for both upper and lower body. This will actually help you build muscle over time, which can make your body more efficient at burning calories. Think of the difference between a distance runner’s physique and a sprinter’s physique and that will give you a good analogy of the different results you can get from varied jump rope training routines.



The jump rope is an excellent tool for enhancing athletic performance and is one of the main reasons the rope is so popular. Anyone that competes in a sport that involves coordination, footwork, quickness, hand speed, agility, rhythm, and even power – whether competitively or recreationally – will definitely benefit from training with a jump rope. If you take a look back at video archives of the best boxers in history – Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather – you will find that they are amazing with a jump rope. Jamaican gold medal-winning sprinter Usain Bolt smuggled a jump rope into the stadium (for some reason they weren’t allowed) for use prior to his races in past Olympics. The top athletes are using jump ropes because there are so many performance benefits.

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There are definitely some other great considerations to take into account with the jump rope. They are very portable. If you are traveling or have limited space in your gym bag, it’s a convenient tool to have. If you look at the expense of typical cardio machines – treadmills, ellipticals, or stationary bikes – those can cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. You can get a decent jump rope for a few bucks.


One of the main perks of the rope is the satisfaction and enjoyment that comes with it. The initial difficulty of learning to jump is often a barrier for people. It takes time and effort to learn to jump rope and learn a variety of skills and that’s why you might not see a whole lot of individuals jumping at the gym. Anyone can hop on a machine. Learning to jump is a very satisfying feeling. It keeps people engaged and challenge and helps to avoid the monotony inherent in many other types of cardiovascular exercises that lead to disinterest.

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A random jump roping session might not do much to increase VO2 Max.  But within the context of a high-intensity interval routine – say, Tabata routine – jumping rope can be easily integrated to achieve great results. You can also jump rope between sets of other exercises, go for time or total skips, etc., to suit your needs for that workout.


With the amount of jump rope options out there it can be tough for someone new to jumping to choose a good starting rope. It may seem a little counterintuitive but lighter ropes are actually much more difficult for beginners to learn on than heavier ropes. Avoid really thin speed ropes and avoid those tacky cotton ropes, which are really difficult to use. What I would recommend is a PVC rope – something that has a little weight so new jumpers can feel exactly where the rope is as it rotates around and they can time their jump to learn proper rhythm.  These ropes are usually in the $10-$20 range.

Dave Hunt is a former Navy pilot, competitive track athlete and the owner and creator of CrossRope (www.crossrope.com), which offers progressively heavier cables to vary the speed and intensity of your rope training. For workouts, tips and to find out how to get your hands on a CrossRope kit, visit www.crossrope.com

Get more features like this for free in the web version of the Muscle & Fitness 2014 Training Trends Special Digital Issue.