Looking for an Effective Cardio Home Workout? Try Rope Jumping! | Hummingbird A Person Skipping Rope - Image by Sparky from Pixabay.

Looking for an Effective Cardio Home Workout? Try Rope Jumping!

Doing cardio at home can be challenging sometimes. Not everyone has the luxury to get a treadmill for their home gym. Have bad coordination? Dancing or something of that nature may not be suitable for you. Plus, if you are working at home, you probably want a quick and effective exercise that doesn’t take over an hour to burn extra calories. If you belong to any of the situations mentioned above, and are looking for an alternative, look no further. Because we have the answer for you – jump roping. 

Benefits of Rope Skipping

For some of you, a jump rope is nothing more than a reminder of your middle school gym class nightmares years ago. It’s ok, I get it. I feel the same when I first saw it years later. However, part of the purpose of this article is to let you know how cool this piece of fitness equipment is, and how middle school gym class sucked. Just kidding :P

But it did.

Anyway, first of all, rope skipping is an effective fat burning exercise at home. A study showed that a 5-minute moderate to fast skipping (125 – 145 skips/min) resulted in average MET values ranging from 11.7 to 12.5[1]. MET stands for metabolic equivalent. For reference, resting is rated 1 MET, walking at 4 mph (6.4 km/h) is rated 5 MET, and jogging at 8 mph (12.9 km/h) is rated 11.8 MET. When it comes to calorie consumption, here’s what I found. For a 121-lb (55 kg) person, a 5-minute slow, moderate and fast rope jumping will burn 37 kcal, 46 kcal, and 55 kcal respectively, while 5-minute moderate, vigorous jumping jacks and jogging will burn 10 kcal, 37 kcal, and 32 kcal respectively[2]. Therefore, it’s not surprising that rope skipping improves BMI (Body Mass Index) and cardiovascular fitness in the long run[3][4]. Integrating rope skipping into HIIT is also another great and effective aerobic exercise at home.

Rope skipping strengthens upper and lower body. Studies have shown that there is significant improvement in lower body strength. In one study, the participants’ leg press 1RM increased by 12.37 kg after a 48-week power exercise, which included jumping rope, skipping and hopping. Same study has also shown that compared to resistance training, jumping rope has a similar effect on maintaining bone density in premenopausal women[5]. Upper body, especially shoulder strength also improved from rope skipping. Muscle strength improvement was even more obvious with a weighted jump rope[6][7]. Your back and chest muscles are exercised as well.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, rope jumping also improves coordination. Next time you may find yourself more confident in dancing than you used to! Furthermore, jump rope is a convenient and portable piece of equipment, with which you can burn fat and tone your body anytime anywhere you want! I am sure there are far more benefits than the ones that have been listed. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below.

Concerns about Rope Skipping

There have been concerns about rope skipping.

Some are afraid that continuous bounding is not good for female breasts. Now this is why wearing a medium to high impact sports bra is crucial. Skipping correctly is also important, which will be mentioned later in the article.

Others are concerned that it will harm their knee and ankle joints. Again, all the benefits mentioned above are built on the premise that rope skipping is done in a proper manner. Wearing sports shoes reduces the impact on your joints. If it’s possible, using a mat not only further absorbs the impact, but also protects your jump rope from fraying.

Important note – if you have any pre-existing conditions or if you are pregnant, please consult a doctor beforehand.

How to Determine the Length of a Jump Rope 

When you receive a jump rope, first thing is to adjust the cable length, if the cable is adjustable. One way to determine a length that’s suitable for you is the “foot-axilla” method. Stand straight, step one foot in the middle of the cable. Hold the two handles together and pull them up to your armpit on the same side of your foot. The length from the foot to your armpit, excluding the handles, is the suitable length. Cut the excessive rope or tie a knot on the length you just determined.

How to Adjust a Jump Rope. How to Adjust a Skipping Rope. Looking for an Effective Cardio Home Workout? Try Rope Jumping! | Hummingbird

How to Skip Rope

When talking about jumping rope, the scenes where people are jumping very high, bending the knees, tucking the feet behind, arms flying all over the place, or “double hops” may come to you mind. However, that’s not a proper way to do it. The problem with these movements is too much pressure is put on your joints, which can cause injury and joint problems. Plus, it’s not an economy of effort - less energy, more skips.

To jump rope correctly, the starting position is to keep your head and back in an upright position. Eyes look straight ahead. Lower and pull back your shoulders. Elbows slightly bent and maintain a certain space between your hands and your waist to create a suitable cable arch for your feet to pass. Keep your feet close to each other. When jumping, make sure to use your distal upper limbs instead of shoulders to rotate the rope. Put your thumbs along the direction of the handles to facilitate the rotation. Knees slightly bent to absorb bound upon landing to reduce impact on your lower body joints. Jump just high enough (1-2” or 2-5 cm) to let the cable pass your feet. Land softly on the balls of your feet.

Rope jumping is indeed a perfect full body workout at home. After all these benefits, cautions and instructions, now it’s time for you to try out. Remember practice makes perfect. An experienced jumper? Time to challenge double under or triple under, and bring your fitness skipping workout to the next level!

Fun fact: It is said that the history of jump rope (single jump) can be traced back to Han dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.), or even earlier in China[8], while the western version of jump rope - Double Dutch was originated in the Netherlands in the 1600s. What a great invention!

Part of a Mural from Chinese Han Dynasty Depicting the Activity of Rope Skipping. Looking for an Effective Cardio Home Workout? Try Rope Jumping! | Hummingbird

Part of a Mural from Chinese Han Dynasty Depicting the Activity of Rope Skipping[8].


[1] G P Town, N Sol, W E Sinning, “The Effect of Rope Skipping Rate on Energy Expenditure of Males and Females”, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1980;12(4):295-8. PMID: 7421480. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7421480/

[2] WebMD Fit-O-Meter. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/healthtool-exercise-calculator

[3] Fateme Ghorbani, Rashid Heidarimoghadam, Manoochehr Karami, Kamelia Fathi, Vazgen Minasian, Mohammad Ebrahim Bahram, “The Effect of Six-Week Aerobic Training Program on Cardiovascular Fitness, Body Composition and Mental Health Among Female Students”, J Res Health Sci. Autumn 2014;14(4):264-7. PMID: 25503280. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25503280/

[4] KyoChul Seo, “The Effects of Dance Music Jump Rope Exercise on Pulmonary Function and Body Mass Index After Music Jump Rope Exercise in Overweight Adults in 20's”, J Phys Ther Sci. 2017 Aug;29(8):1348-1351. doi: 10.1589/jpts.29.1348. Epub 2017 Aug 10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28878460/

[5] M Gray, R Di Brezzo, I L Fort, “The Effects of Power and Strength Training on Bone Mineral Density in Premenopausal Women”, J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013 Aug;53(4):428-36. PMID: 23828291. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23828291/

[6] Irem Duzgun, Gul Baltaci, Filiz Colakoglu, Volga Bayrakci Tunay, Derya Ozer, “The Effects of Jump-Rope Training on Shoulder Isokinetic Strength in Adolescent Volleyball Players”, J Sport Rehabil. 2010 May;19(2):184-99. doi: 10.1123/jsr.19.2.184. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20543219/

[7] D Ozer, I Duzgun, G Baltaci, S Karacan, F Colakoglu, “The Effects of Rope or Weighted Rope Jump Training on Strength, Coordination and Proprioception in Adolescent Female Volleyball Players”, J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2011 Jun;51(2):211-9. PMID: 21681154. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21681154/

[8] 乐陶, 汉画上的中国古代体育”, 《中华文化画报》, 2008 Aug. http://www.guoxue.com/wk/000137.htm

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