Does Jumping Rope Count as Cardio or Strength Training?
Does Jumping Rope Count as Cardio or Strenght Training?
For most people, jumping rope also know as skipping , evokes tender images of childhood games. However, jumping rope can also be used by people of all ages to get and stay in shape. If you don’t believe this, then consider that boxers, some of the toughest athletes on planet earth, consistently include jumping ropes in their routines as a way to develop speed, improve leg coordination, burn calories, and even gain strength.
Are you ready to get in shape in a fun and unconventional way? Then keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about skipping rope.
Benefits of Jumping Rope
Jumping ropes are cheap and easy to carry around. For less than $20 you can use this light piece of equipment to work out wherever you want, whether you’re at work, on a family trip, or watching TV in the middle of your living room. We could go on and on about the benefits of jumping rope, but, for the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on just two: cardio and strength.
According to Peter Schulman, MD and associate professor at the University of Connecticut, skipping rope is a complete exercise which burns a lot of calories in a short time. Plus, compared to jogging, jumping rope is considered a low-impact activity because your feet are never too far from the ground. This helps to keep direct stress on your hips, knees, and ankles to a minimum, making it an excellent way to supplement your running routine.
While there isn’t enough evidence to believe that jumping rope can help you gain muscle, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that skipping rope is a good way to keep muscle. According to Brandon Epstein, from the Jump Rope Dudes, regularly skipping rope has helped many members of his community to maintain muscle, especially if they’re using a heavy rope. The benefits are also proportional to the way you work out, because the heavier the rope and the faster you spin it the more your muscles will be engaged to resist the torque of the rope.
Muscles Used When Jumping Rope
Do not underestimate the power of a jump rope. skipping rope is a complete workout which engages all of your body, although some muscles are more engaged than others. Obviously, your lower body plays the biggest role in pushing you off the ground, with the muscles in your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings exerting the most energy. Skipping rope also works your glutes, as these are used to stabilize the body and absorb some of the shock of the landing.
Jumping up and down activates both your core muscles, especially your abdominals, and the latissimus dorsi muscles. These two muscle groups are responsible for keeping a good posture, that’s why it’s important that you pull your scapula together to make the most benefits out of it.
Since most people associate jumping rope with leg work, they forget that the upper body is the one who’s controlling the rope. Anybody who’s skipped a rope before has probably felt the burn in the arms after swinging the rope for a few minutes. Jumping rope requires the use of the pectoral muscles to stabilize your upper body while your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms turn the rope over your head. These muscles are engaged even more when you do advance tricks such as the criss cross.
Don’t forget to stretch your lower body, especially your calf, after warming up the muscles.
Types of jumping ropes
These days you can find all kinds of jumping ropes going from the ones you used when you were a kid to cheap fabric types for the budget-conscious, abrasion-resistant ropes for outdoor use, light ropes for speed work, or heavy ropes to strengthen the muscles. Some of the most commonly used jumping ropes include:
1. Fabric jump ropes
Cheap and easy to make, these are the ones most people played with when they were children. Most are made using low-quality materials, like plastic handles and fabric or nylon rope, so they’re pretty heavy and slow, especially if they get wet.
2. Beaded Jump Ropes
These colorful ropes are considered to be the best for beginners as the sound they make when they hit the floor can be used to find one’s rhythm and cadence. Besides looking good, the beads help prevent the rope from tangling and increases its resilience, although one disadvantage is that they cause a lot of pain if you hit yourself accidentally.
3. Leather Jump Ropes
Their ability to improve leg coordination has made leather ropes a favorite among boxers as great as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. The drawback of these ropes is that, being made of organic material, they aren’t resistant to moisture. Plus, they hit like a whip, so try wearing jeans when you use them.
4. Plastic or PVC Jump Ropes
Plastic ropes are cheap and easy to find, though the weight and thickness of the table makes them pretty slow. Still, they’re a good way to get started since, besides being cheap, they last a while and are perfect for outdoor use.
5. Speed Jump Ropes
Made out of thin vinyl, these ropes are extremely light and fragile. Being so light means they can be used to make an impressive amount of turns per minute (as much as 5 to 6 times per second) and complex maneuvers like crossing moves and multiple unders. So, if you really want to work on your cardio, these are the ropes for you. The downside is that you can only use them indoors and they’re prone to tangling,
6. Steel Cable Jump Ropes
Light and flexible, steel cable ropes are another type of speed ropes, but one which is considerably more durable than vinyl jump ropes. They’re great for advanced athletes who want to do double unders. However, it can be difficult to feel the turn of the rope if the cable is too thin, so it’s better to practice with a 4 mm cable.
7. Weighted Jump Ropes
These are usually made by adding weights to the handles, although they can also be made using a thicker cable. They are expensive and not friendly to beginners. However, they are excellent for building speed, strength, and endurance at the same time, so definitely try using them once you’ve mastered more basic ropes.
Speed vs Weighted Ropes
When choosing jump ropes, it’s important to keep in mind what are your fitness goals. Do you want to lose weight, maintain your muscle mass, or increase your cardio? Different ropes will have different results in your body, so it’s important that you choose accordingly to see the best results.
Both speed and heavy ropes work can improve cardio, but only speed ropes are able to turn quickly enough to really push your heart to the limit. Weighted ropes, on the other hand, will help you build muscle resistance and also work your cardio.
To sum it up, both have their benefits and disadvantages. However, if you can, the best solution would be to combine them in your workout routine so you can get the best of both.
Basic Jumping Rope Technique
There are two basic techniques to skip rope: the bounce step and the alternate-foot step. Both of these are really easy to learn but represent the building block from which you can start learning more flashy movements like double unders. When skipping rope, always remember to keep an upright posture and look in front of you to avoid losing your balance.
1. The Bounce Step
With your feet together, jump just high enough to let the rope past under your feet. Push with the balls of your feet while keeping your knees slightly bent. Land lightly on the balls of your feet and jump back immediately without letting your heels touch the floor.
2. The Alternate Foot Step
As the name implies, this technique involves alternating feet with each jump. The movement used requires greater involvement of the legs, as you must raise your non-jumping foot at least an inch from the jumping surface — sort of like a jogging motion, but raising your feet instead of kicking it backwards. Make sure you wait until the rope has passed over your head before initiating the next jump.
How To Choose The Right Rope Length
Picking the right length for your jumping rope is critical. Too short and your arms and shoulders will have to make up for it; too long and you’ll be dragging it through the floor. If anything, it’s better to pick a long rope than a short one, as you can always reduce length but you can’t add to it.
To get the perfect length, buy a rope that is about 2-3 feet longer than your height. If your rope is still too long for you, stand in front of a mirror with your jump rope straighten out in one of your hands. Step on it with one foot and keep an eye on the mirror to make sure the handles are even. Both handles should be either below your shoulder line but above your armpit (for beginners), aligned with your armpit (for fitness jumpers), or 1-2 inches below your armpit (for experienced speed jumpers). Now take a mental note of how much length you need to take off.
To shorten your rope you can either tie a knot just below each handle or remove the handle cap and cut out the excess rope. Make sure the knots aren’t in contact with the handles, if you picked the former method, or that you knot or crimp the end of your rope, if you picked the latter.
If you want to get your heart up and tone your lower half jumping rope will be a good choice. Jump ropes are cheap, easy to use , portable. They can be used anywhere including your living room.
•WikiHow (2019, April 04) How to Size a Jump Rope
•Livestrong (2019) Different Kinds of Jump Ropes
•Men’s Health (2018, June 11) Can skipping ropes build muscle?
•Human Kinetics (2019) Improve overall conditioning with these basic jump rope techniques
•WebMD (2002) Skipping Rope Does Skip Workout
•Livestrong (2019) Jumping Rope Uses Which Muscles?
•Crossrope (2018, August 17) Learn How to Jump Rope: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Jump Rope Training
•Velites (2017) Step by Step GUIDE to choose the BEST Jump Rope for you
•Livestrong (2019) Weighted Jump Rope Vs. Speed Rope
•Livestrong (2019) What is the Correct Length for Jump Ropes?