Jump Rope Cardio Workout

Add some air time to your routine with a heart-pumping jump rope workout.

This jump rope routine “delivers a fat-burning workout as well as cardiovascular benefits, strength and conditioning coach and exercise physiologist.

It will also test your jump rope skills. These exercises start with regular jumping and progressively get more challenging until you burn it out at the end with a sprint in place.

One essential for this workout? The right rope, of course. Choose a speed rope that is approximately three feet longer than your height. To check if it’s the correct length, start by stepping on the middle of the rope. Then, pull the rope up toward your shoulders. The cables, not the handles, should hit right around your armpits.

You can also adjust the rope to accommodate your height.

PROPER FORM

When jumping, slightly point the handles down, “like you’re handing someone a pen,” Shields says. Keep your hands at hip level, an inch or two in front of you. Maintain a light grip.

Keep your neck long, your posture tall and your gaze forward while you jump. It’s OK to look down at your feet if you need to.

Stay on the balls of your feet and “explode off the ground,” taking short, rapid hops. During this sequence, “Your muscles are going through the stretch-shortening cycle, and you’re really working your ankles. This is a calf workout, as well as a total-body cardio workout.”

THE WORKOUT

Set aside about 15 minutes. Perform each exercise below for 20 seconds. Each round will be a total of two minutes and 20 seconds.

Repeat this sequence three to four times, resting for 60 to 90 seconds between each round.

REGULAR JUMPS

Set the foundation for the rest of the exercises by perfecting your regular jumps.

  • Spring as you hop, staying on the balls of your feet.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Make small contained arm movements, flicking your wrists quickly to avoid tiring your shoulders.
  • Gaze straight ahead.
  • Stay upright with shoulders back and down and your chest high.
  • Maintain a light grip on the rope.
SWITCH-FOOT BOUNCES

  • Set up with your feet six to 12 inches apart, one in front of the other.
  • Very quickly, and in alternating fashion, hop with one foot forward, one foot back, then switch the other foot forward, other foot back, passing the rope underneath your feet each time.
  • Switch feet with every hop.
  • Maintain proper form.
LATERAL HOPS

  • Use a visual cue for this exercise. “Find a line, whether it’s a parking space or a crack in [your driveway], and use that as your line to hop over,” Shields says. Or you can always grab some sidewalk chalk.
  • Hop both feet at the same time, back and forth over the line, as you swing the rope.
  • Maintain proper form.
SINGLE-LEG HOPS

  • Alternate your supporting foot every two hops.
  • You can repeat “left, left, right, right” as you jump to stay on track.
  • Maintain proper form.
DOUBLE UNDER

  • Rotate the rope two times around in a single jump.
  • To successfully pass the rope under your feet twice in a single hop, jump higher and rotate your wrists more quickly than a typical jump.
  • Add a “double under” every third hop.
  • Maintain proper form.

Modification: If you find that you’re getting tangled, add the “double under” every tenth jump.

CRISS CROSS

  • Cross your hands as the rope goes under your body, then straighten your arms out on the return, then recommence regular jumps.
  • To successfully complete the cross, jump slightly higher than a regular hop.
  • Add a crisscross every third hop.
  • Maintain proper form.
  • You can repeat “tap, tap, tap, cross” as you jump to stay on track.

Modification: Add a crisscross every 10 skips “so you have a little more time to recover” in between.

SPRINT IN PLACE

  • As you swing the rope, sprint in place with high knees.
  • Pass the rope under your feet each time you switch your supporting foot.
  • For more intensity, increase the speed of the rope.

Take on this full workout or try adding any of these jump rope exercises to your next circuit for a fun and challenging cardio boost.