Jumping Rope for Cardio

It might be a lot of fun, but jumping rope is not just for kids. The jump rope is a fantastic device for building stamina and athleticism, plus it’s also a great method for burning fat.

In fact, a jump rope is one of the best cardiovascular conditioning tools out there–way better than a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Plus you can take it with you anywhere!

Jumping rope can also have a huge impact on improving your coordination and agility. You can probably expect to get winded and feel uncoordinated the first time you try jumping rope for cardio, but after a few sessions you will start to get the hang of it.

Basic Jump Rope Techniques

The first thing to learn is the standard two-foot jump. Start with the rope behind your heels, then whip in over your head and jump over it with both feet at the same time. If you are brand new to this, it might be best to just practice single jumps, resetting your rope after each rep. Eventually the aim is to transition from jump to jump as smoothly as possible.

Once you get that move down, you can try alternating feet like you are jogging in place while the rope passes beneath you on each step.

Crossovers and Double Unders

After you’re comfortable with the basics, you can start to play around with crossover jumps. This entails switching the position of your hands in mid air, so your left hand winds up outside your right hip and your right hand is outside your left hip. On the next jump, you’ll then switch them back. It takes focus and coordination to get the timing right for this one, so be prepared to put in some practice before you will be able to perform them consistently. Also be prepared that you may need to jump a bit higher in order to stay in the air long enough to cross your hands back and forth between jumps.

A double under refers to a jump in which the rope goes underneath the feet of the jumper twice during a single leap. In order to perform a successful double under, you’ll need to whip the rope extremely quickly and jump higher than normal to make room for the rope to pass beneath you twice before you land.

Programming Your Jump Rope Workout

In the beginning, I suggest simply practicing the basic techniques before you worry about any specific programming. You can practice for a few minutes at the start of your workout as a warm-up, or do it at the end. You can also do it on a separate day entirely. As long as you get it in, when you do it is up to you.

Once can comfortably jump continuously for at least 60 seconds, you can try doing intervals where you alternate between one minute of jumping and one minute or rest. Keeping that pace up for 20 minutes can be surprisingly tough at first! As your technique and conditioning improve, you can aim to make your jumping intervals longer and your breaks shorter. You can also increase the length of your sessions.

For variety’s sake, I recommend practicing some crossovers and double unders, particularly during longer sessions. Be aware that these moves will be more tiring, however, so you may need to adjust your work-to-rest ratio to account for this. 

One of my favorite ways to practice crossovers and double unders is simply to pick a total number to aim for in a single session, then hit that target in as many sets as it takes, with as many breaks as needed. At first, you might aim to perform just 10 of each in a given session, as you will miss many of your early attempts and expend a lot of energy doing so. As you get more proficient, you can increase that number to 100 or more.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your Xero Shoes and let’s jump around! 

-Al Kavaldo