HEALTHY LIVING

7 Jump Rope Workouts To Blast Fat And Get Fit

02/18/2015 08:14 am ET | Updated Feb 18, 2015

By A.C. Shilton for Men's Journal

Forget any association you had with jump ropes and gym class. The jump rope is a powerful workout tool. It builds cardio fitness, balance, agility and bone strength. It's also one of the best go-anywhere fitness accessories, fitting easily into even a crammed carry-on.

"It requires a lot of coordination and really works your cardiovascular system," says Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, the women's 2014 CrossFit Games winner. She likes to train with double unders, a common CrossFit move that requires you to jump explosively and spin the rope faster to pass it beneath your feet twice. This works your muscles harder and pushes your cardiovascular system towards its upper limit.

To get the most from your workout, make sure your rope is the right size. CrossFit HQ trainer Dave Lipson says that when you hold the rope under one foot, the handles should just reach your armpits. To maximize results, practice good form. "Hold your hands at 10 and 2 o'clock and at waist height. Revolve the rope from the wrists, not the shoulders," says Lipson.

And if you're shooting for double unders, we recommend buying a speed rope with bearings. Speed ropes start around $20 and spin faster than inexpensive licorice and beaded ropes.

Now here are seven jump rope workouts -- most of which can be completed in a half hour or less -- that will have you burning calories and building strength.

High-Speed Circuit
Fitness competitor, former ballerina and coach Dom Spain teaches outdoor bootcamp classes in Miami. She calls jump rope workouts the "no excuses" workout because, "if I have clients that say they don't have time or don't have the money for a gym membership, they can always do this."

This workout is designed to give you just enough rest to keep pushing through all of the exercises, but not enough to let things get easy. It can be done in 30 minutes and requires only a jump rope.

  • Warm up by doing 30 seconds of jumping rope, 30 seconds of air squats, then a 1 minute plank hold. Repeat four times.
  • 1 minute of jumping and 30 seconds of push-ups.
  • 1 minute of backward jumping and 30 seconds of tricep bench dips.
  • 1 minute of side to side jumping (imagine your feet are bound together, and jump rope while hopping from side to side) and 30 seconds of lunges.
  • 1 minute of skipping rope (one foot lands as the other takes off) and 30 seconds of jumping squats.
  • 1 minute of single leg jumping (30 seconds on one leg, then switch), and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.
  • 1 minute of alternating high knee jumps (like the skipping rope move, but pull your knees up as high as you can), and 30 seconds of flutter kicks.
Take one minute of rest, then repeat the entire circuit. Cool down and stretch after two rounds.

jump rope workouts

CrossFit Annie
Many essential CrossFit workouts have names and this one is called Annie, but it's okay if you just want to call it hard.
"It's a great way to test your double unders and core stamina. You are breathing hard, your abs are worked to the point of cramping, and your shoulders will burn," says Leblanc-Bazinet.

You'll do five sets total, each time doing 10 fewer reps than the previous set. There's no rest between sets, just hammer through.

Start with 50 double unders. If you can't do multiple double unders, do two normal jumps (100 instead of 50) until you're comfortable with double unders. Next, do 50 sit-ups. Then repeat until you've reached sets of 10.

Here's what that looks like:

  • 50 double unders
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 40 double unders
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 30 double unders
  • 30 sit-ups
  • 20 double unders
  • 20 sit-ups
  • 10 double unders
  • 10 sit-ups

Core Strength Builder
Jumping rope burns calories, but when you add in movements that challenge your balance -- like single footed jumping -- you engage your core to stay upright.

This abs-focused jump rope workout is courtesy of Molly Metz, a competitive jump rope athlete and coach at JumpNRope, a jump rope gym in Louisville, Colorado. She says she likes this workout because it challenges a wide range of muscle groups at once. For this workout you will need the following exercises:
Mountain Climbers: Start in a high plank, on your hands, not your forearms. Jump your right foot to the outside of your right hand. As you bring your right foot back, simultaneously jump your left foot to your left hand. Count every time your right foot jumps forward.
Jump Rope Speed Steps: This is almost a skipping motion over the rope -- you pass one leg at a time over the rope as it comes beneath you. Try to move as quickly as you can and count only every time your right leg hits the ground.
Air Squats: Perform this body-weight squat like you're lowering into a chair. Your hips should drop just below your knees; keep your shoulder back and chest up.
Bicycles: Lie on your back with your knees up and your shins parallel to the ground. Extend your right leg out as you crunch towards your left knee with your upper body. Repeat on the left side. Count every time you complete a rep on the right side.
Walking Lunges: There should be 90-degree angles in both legs at the bottom of your movement. Your back knee should barely touch the ground.
Jump Rope Backwards Jumps: This takes some practice. Instead of turning the rope forwards, turn it backwards, jumping right before it hits the back of your feet.
Jump Rope Single Leg Jumps: Jump repeatedly on either the right or the left leg.
Burpees: Plant your hands on floor, jump your feet back, and lower your chest all the way to floor. Then jump up and clap your hands overhead. Repeat.

Warm up for a few minutes with easy jumping or light jogging. Try to do the workout straight through without resting.

  • 100 mountain climbers
  • 100 speed steps
  • 80 mountain climbers
  • 80 double unders
  • 80 air squats
  • 60 mountain climbers
  • 60 air squats
  • 60 bicycles
  • 60 speed steps
  • 40 mountain climbers
  • 40 air squats
  • 40 bicycles
  • 40 walking lunges
  • 40 backwards jumps
  • 20 jumps on one foot, then the other
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 20 air squats
  • 20 bicycles
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 20 burpees

jump rope workouts

Jump Rope For Runners
Florida-based running and triathlon coach Matthew Reedy uses jump ropes to teach good posture and help runners learn to pick up their feet. "Jumping rope makes you focus on picking up your feet, which makes you a more efficient runner," he says. In this workout he uses the jump rope to elevate the heart before having athletes do a build-up run -- gradually accelerate to top speed, hold for a few steps, then slow down, all over 100 meters.

Warm up with a few easy laps around a track. Reedy recommends you also run backwards for a few meters to stretch out your calves before taxing them with speed work.

Do 30 seconds of jumping rope. Then put down your rope and run a 100-meter build-up, being careful to keep your stride short as you accelerate up to top speed. Return to your jump rope as quickly as possible. Begin jumping for another 30 seconds. Do 10 sets of 30 seconds of jump rope followed by 100 meters of running.

Do the sets with minimal rest, which will train you to run at fast pace with an elevated heart rate. The jump rope also acts as an active recovery tool, teaching you to recover while still moving.

The Do-Anywhere, Total-Body Workout
By mixing jump rope exercises with bodyweight movements you can get a full body workout without a gym. Christy Johnson, a Portland, Oregon-based certified personal trainer says she often recommends jump rope-based workouts for time-crunched clients. "You don't have to do it for very long to get a benefit," she says.

Set a timer for three minutes. For the first three minutes, cycle through doing 20 two-footed jumps, 20 jumps on the right foot, then 20 jumps on the left foot. When the three minutes is up, do one minute of air squats.

Repeat this 3-to-1 routine five times, subbing in push-ups, plyo-lunges (jump from one leg to the other), tricep dips, and planks for the squats. With a few minutes of warm up and cool down, you've worked every major muscle group and burned hundreds of calories in less than 30 minutes.

The MMA Workout
Chris Reilly was a pro MMA fighter for more than a decade. Today, he coaches athletes at his Southern California gym, Legends MMA. Jumping rope, he says, is almost always involved in daily workouts. "Jump rope is essential to fight training as it incorporates so many of the elements fighters are attempting to master: conditioning, timing, hand-eye-foot coordination, and the mental focus to access these elements at the same time," Reilly says.

He likes this particular workout because it includes form and strength work, but finishes with several hard rounds of jumping to challenges muscles when the body is already fatigued. And be warned, this hour-long workout will leave you spent.

Warm up with three rounds of three minutes of jumping, one minute easy jumping. Also, Reilly gives this hint: "The rope is very thin, don't jump any higher than you need to in order to clear the rope as it passes under your feet."

Next, do three rounds of shadow boxing, three minutes on, then one minute easy. Reilly suggests using a mirror so you can check your form while practicing and he says to focus on rhythm, timing, and your biomechanics, not power. If you haven't shadow boxed before, watch this quick introduction.

Now do three rounds of three minutes hard, one minute easy with a heavy punching bag. Alternate between punching, kicking, kneeing, and elbow striking the bag. Reilly says to add in combos, which challenge both the mind and major and minor muscle groups.

Now follow the heavy bag with this strength progression:

  • 3 sets of 10-20 pushups, varying your arm position to work different muscle groups on each set.
  • 3 of your max pull-up reps.
  • 3 sets of your max bar or ring dips.

Finish with five rounds of jumping rope, again going three minutes hard, one minute easy. This time, focus on speed, timing, and footwork. Really push yourself here, and if you want to add in tricks, now is the time to do it. If you're not sure where to start, spin the rope faster, jump higher and throw in double unders.

Cool down with a few minutes of easy recovery work and stretching.

jump rope closeup

Strength Ladder
Rob Sulaver, the certified nutritionist and coach behind Bandana Training, says that he loves giving members of his Bandana Army workouts that include jump rope work because, "no matter what, you always end up feeling like Rocky. What's not to love?"

This workout has an inverted pyramid format. Start with 500 reps, drop down to 400 and 300, then climb out with sets of 400 and 500 again. That last set will burn, but that's the point. You need either two kettlebells or dumbbells, and to know the following exercises:
Goblet Squat: This is a deep squat, but you hold the kettlebell in front of and close to your chest. Your feet are slightly wider than normal so that, at the bottom, your elbows are inside your knees.
Renegade Rows: Get into a high plank position with your hands on top of the kettlebells. Do a full push-up, then keeping your core engaged, pick up the right kettlebell, pulling your elbow straight up to bring the bell level with your right ribcage. Set the right one down and repeat with the left. That's one rep.
Plyo Pushups: From the floor, push upward hard enough to take your hands off the ground for a second. Ideally, you should be able to clap in the moment your upper body is airborne, but if you can't quite do it, just try to get some air between the floor and your hands. Land softly and immediately begin your next pushup.

  • Jump rope 500 times
  • 12 goblet squats
  • 12 plyometric pushups
  • 12 renegade rows
  • Jump rope 400 times
  • 12 goblet squats
  • 12 plyometric pushups
  • 12 renegade rows
  • Jump rope 300 times
  • 12 goblet squats
  • 12 plyometric pushups
  • 12 renegade rows
  • Jump rope 400 times
  • 12 goblet squats
  • 12 plyometric pushups
  • 12 renegade rows
  • Jump rope 500 times
  • 12 goblet squats
  • 12 plyometric pushups
  • 12 renegade rows

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