Jump rope is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness in a fairly short space of time. It tones the body all over, while improving your balance, reflexes, and coordination. You really can get a whole-package workout in just twenty minutes—or go for gold and do a full hour if you’re up to it. It’s an ideal cross training regime to add to your program to improve your running.
The key to a good jump rope workout is to have some fun with it. You need to master the basics of your posture and form so that you can advance to doing some cool tricks. That way, you’ll get a good workout and get to challenge yourself by learning new techniques. Each trick—while looking cool—works out a slightly different part of your body, giving you a more well-rounded training session.
Once you have the basics down, here are some tricks to try out:
1. The Run-In-Place
We’ll start off with one of the easiest tricks to master in jump rope. For the run-in-place, you are simply alternating your weight from one foot to the other as you jump—almost as if you’re hopping from your left foot to your right foot and back again with each swing of the rope.
Make sure to stay on the balls of your feet and keep a steady rhythm going. If you want to change things up a bit, you can lift your knees up in front of you with each jump, or kick back on alternate sides.
2. The Side Straddle
Now you can go one step further and keep your feet together but jump left to right, and back again. The side straddle technique uses the basic jump position, but you don’t stay on the same spot, simply going up and down with each swing of the rope.
Start by imagining a line running front to back next to your feet. Then, you need to jump sideways over that line each time you jump over the rope.
3. The Boxer Skip
This one will seem very similar to the run-in-place. But it’s more about shifting your weight from one side of your body to the other, rather than stepping onto each foot completely with each swing of the rope.
The idea is to get a good rhythm going where you’re shifting one foot in front of the other with each jump and sliding the other foot back—all the while staying on the balls of your feet. This is the technique that boxers use because it allows them to practice staying agile and strong while building up plenty of cardiovascular stamina.
4. The Side Swipe
With this technique, you’re not actually jumping over the rope, so a lot of people use it as a transition method between tricks or techniques. However, the side swipe is a good lesson in coordination.
Plus, you can maintain your jumping motion while performing it, which keeps your cardio going.
While staying in the basic jump or the boxer skip, bring the rope out in front of you and swing it in a full rotation to one side, and then the other. It’s almost like you’re making a figure of eight with the rope, but each loop is swinging around the side of you, and the crossover is happening in front.
5. The Criss Cross
This is a fun variation on the basic jump technique. It requires a bit of concentration and very good form. Essentially, while you’re jumping and swinging the rope, you cross one hand over the other so that they are now next to the opposite hip.
You need to do this motion without interrupting the flow of the swing and the rhythm of your jumping. Alternating which hand goes on top adds a mental challenge too.
6. The Double Under
For a more explosive jump rope workout, add in this technique. As the name suggests, the double under requires you to jump high enough for the rope to spin around you twice in one jump.
Yet it isn’t about spinning the rope twice with each jump. It’s about spinning the rope hard and fast once with each jump. You let the momentum carry the rope around for a second time, while you’re still in the air.
This technique is good to mix into your workout for that extra boost of cardio. Try alternating between the regular rhythm of the boxer skip or the run-in-place and the double under for a low-intensity to high-intensity mix.
7. The Double Under Criss-Cross
For those who want a real challenge of both mental and physical proportions, this is a great technique. It combines the explosive cardio of the double under jump with the concentration required to get the Criss Cross technique right.
Before you try this one, it’s important to get the basic technique of the individual jumps right and ensure you’re comfortable with them. A key to getting it right is to focus more on the double under technique first. You need to start with the explosive jump, otherwise none of it will work out. Then, let your muscle memory to perform the Criss Cross take over when you’re in the air.
Get The Right Gear
As with any exercise, having the correct gear is essential to help you get the most out of your training and prevent injury. Jump rope is fairly high impact, so you want shoes that have plenty of cushioning and support. If you have sensitive feet or are prone to injuries, you need to get shoes with the right supportive structure for your feet.
You also need to invest in the right kind of rope. Not all jump ropes are the same, and the length and weights vary. Make sure that rope is the right length for your height and that the weight is manageable. If you’re starting out, begin with a lighter rope, and work towards a heavier one as your skills and stamina improve.
From here, you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump to being fitter.