I was curious, what could a week of jumping rope do to my body? As a writer, I sit for long periods at my desk throughout the day. Exercise aside, it can sometimes be hard to prioritize movement. One lunchtime, I dived into my car boot (home to random assortments of weird and wonderful workout gear) in search of something new to get me moving during 10-minute work breaks.
I stumbled across my jump rope. Hastily bought during the first lockdown and since stowed away at the bottom of my gym bag, it’s the perfect lunchtime pick-me-up. Rope under the arm, I started researching the benefits of jumping rope.
Research has shown that this glorified piece of string can increase cardio fitness, build strength, blitz calories, and improve agility and coordination. Surprisingly, short bouts of jumping rope can still offer remarkable results. I like a challenge, so in the name of fitness, I tried jumping rope for 10 minutes every day for a week to see if I noticed any fitness changes. Grab one of the best jump ropes, or read on for my results.
Does jumping rope burn fat?
So, is jumping rope good cardio? The current research has shown that jumping rope is an effective cardio workout that supports calorie burn and weight loss. Regardless of how effective your workout is, lifestyle factors like adequate sleep, stress management, and diet also play pivotal roles in fat loss. We cover more on how to calculate your body fat percentage and why it matters here.
Cardio is one of the most effective ways to burn fat, but sifting research by Atkinson and Reilly (1996), it’s also suggested that timing your workout around hormonal status and time of day could play a role in fat loss.
In the morning, cortisol (the stress hormone) and testosterone peak, while glucose drops and insulin increases. If you plan to do cardio exercise early, it could favor (and encourage) fat metabolism, especially when performed fasted. Interesting! Stressed out? This expert says it could be your workout.
Is jumping rope better than running?
Jumping rope and running are cardio exercises that can burn fat, build stronger bones, get your heart and lungs pumping, and more. But the benefits vary, and it depends on what your fitness goals are. You can discover more about how to lose weight by running and does running build muscle here.
Cardio aside, weighted jump ropes are great additions for increasing intensity and resistance, incorporating well into a strength program. What’s more, jump ropes are becoming increasingly tech-driven, and digital models are becoming effective at tracking your metrics. Find the best weighted jump ropes if your goal is to build strength.
We also spoke to an expert to find out if jumping rope burns more calories than running.
I jumped rope for 10 minutes each day for a week. Here’s what happened
Here’s what happened when I took on a jumping rope fitness challenge for a week.
1. I had a lot of fun
There are lots of jump rope apps flying about, but the Crossrope app for jump rope training is my favorite. Rather than staring down the timer, the workouts combine jump rope drills with bodyweight and core exercises and add Tabata, interval training and endurance work.
I chose a different jumping rope workout and had so much fun each day. My top pick is the sweaty ‘Thankful Tabata’ for strength, which includes three jump rope techniques — basic, ski, and scissor — with push-ups, extended plank, plank shoulder taps and elbow plank. I added a light dumbbell on some moves, but you could easily catch a decent sweat without any weights.
I was wiped after only 10 minutes without weights, and the workouts always flew by and kept me on my toes (literally).
2. I improved my jump rope skills
By the end of the week, I felt far more comfortable with some of the jump rope techniques I usually avoid. Double-unders have always evaded me, but not anymore (I can now do 10 in a row), and I’m nearly there with consistent crisscrosses.
Although I did nearly take an eye out along with two plants and the dog — she was subsequently moved to another room — it turns out learning a new mind-body skill keeps you healthy. According to Piedmont, engaging in a new skill thickens the brain’s prefrontal cortex, and as you develop it, you can expect boosted confidence and reduced fear and anxiety. The physical brain is malleable, and learning new skills can result in a more positive mindset.
One harsh lesson I did learn is that trying out jump rope techniques in a small city apartment is bold, so if you intend to try it out, clear some room first!
3. I could do it wherever
Jump rope workouts can be done anywhere, anytime. If I found myself short on time, I took my jump rope on dog walks, slipped in a pair of the best wireless headphones, and got to work. I could also pop it into my gym bag and use it as a warm-up before CrossFit classes.
Jump ropes are intelligent additions to home gym equipment, and most of the best apps are free to use, so if you’re looking for ways to save money on your fitness, this could be one of them.
4. My shins hurt
One outcome I was unprepared for was the impact on my shins. After the third day, I noticed my shins hurt as I jumped due to the vertical loading on my lower body. It turns out it was down to poor technique.
Research has shown that vertical loading (like jumping) impacts your joints more than regular daily activity. But according to Crossrope, jumping rope is a relatively low-impact exercise if performed with the correct technique. To avoid developing injuries like shin splints, you should jump with a soft bend in your knees and land on the midsoles of your feet so that the impact strikes evenly through your foot.
In hindsight, I should have done more research and also opted for a weighted rope. For anyone not used to jumping rope every day, weighted jump ropes make it easier to time your jumps, slowing down the rotation to help you keep pace and cadence.
5. I burned more calories than expected
Calorie burn ranges from person to person. According to the Omni calculator — which uses the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities — calorie burn comes down to factors like your weight, minutes jumped and jump rate (jumps per minute). You can expect to burn roughly 170 calories per 10 minutes of jumping rope and up to 300 calories per 15 minutes.
I used my Yuccer jump rope — a digital cordless skipping rope complete with a calorie counter and timer. I never burned less than 150 calories and could expect to blitz between 170 and 300 calories per workout. On average, I burned around 200kcal but always collapsed into a sweaty heap regardless.