Is Jumping Rope The Best Fat Burning Exercise Ever?

jumping rope to lose weight

In the UK we usually call this exercise ‘skipping’, but I didn’t want anybody to confuse it with the type of skipping Michael McIntyre is such a big fan of. So instead I went with ‘jumping rope’, which isn’t so easily confused.

Just to be clear, this is what I’m talking about:

OK so I’m not saying you need to be able to do tricks while spinning in circles, but I had to post that video because it’s insane.

Jumping rope at even a basic level is enough to be seriously rewarding. It will help you lose weight while improving your overall level of fitness, but the best thing about it is that it can be done anywhere. The only thing you need is a space in which the rope isn’t going to get caught in a light fitting and cause some sort of horrible (albeit comical) accident.

A rope is tiny, weighs almost nothing and to be perfectly honest, if you can’t fit a rope in your luggage then you need to rethink how you pack your bags when you go away!

If you’re serious about staying or getting in shape when you travel, a rope is one of the best things you can pack.

It’s Perfect For Warming-Up

I haven’t really talked about warming-up that much on Travel Strong, but the truth is that it’s incredibly important if you’re doing anything beyond a very simple bodyweight routine. Even in a simple bodyweight routine (such as the Beginner Bodyweight Routine) it has it’s place.

Warming-up isn’t just some sort of exercise mumbo-jumbo. The benefits of a proper warm-up are well documented and are grounded in science.

A warm-up prepares your body for exercise by pumping blood to your working muscles, and helps lubricate the joints. This significantly reduces the chance of injury and means that you will be able to keep exercising in the long run. If you injure yourself you’re out the game.

The reason jumping rope is so good for warming-up is that it is both demanding aerobically (which gets blood pumping around the body), and involves a lot of musculature. Think about it: jumping up and down involves the lower body, while swinging the rope involves the upper body.

Jumping Rope To Lose Weight & Get Fitter

In a recent article I wrote about the benefits of high intensity exercise.

Exercises that fall into this category are things like HIIT, sprinting, circuit training and, as it happens, jumping rope.

High intensity exercises are so damn effective because they burn a tonne of calories at the time, and also produce an afterburn effect that means you will continue to burn additional calories for up to 24 hours after exercising!

Jumping rope is also awesome for improving your aerobic capacity and overall level of fitness. This is why, in addition to improving balance and coordination, jumping rope has long been the cornerstone of boxing training sessions.

Muscular Development

jumping rope to lose weight

Jumping rope involves a lot of muscle – more than you might think. But it’s particularly useful for building the calves.

In my post on calf development I talked about the difference between slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibres. To cut a long story short, muscles primarily made up of slow-twitch fibres (such as the calves) respond well to high rep exercises. This is because they are designed for endurance. When you think about, this makes sense since you are using your calves to walk around all day.

Think of jumping rope as a high-rep calf exercise.

You’re using them to jump repeatedly for however long you are working out. Without doing dedicated calf exercises, it’s the perfect way of forcing them to grow and completing the ‘look’ of your lower body.

Jumping In (See What I Did There?)

Get started by jumping rope before you workouts. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s the perfect way to warm up, plus you get all of the added benefits of burning fat and improving fitness.

Here’s a few pointers to help you get started:

  • Start slow – If the last time you jumped rope was in pre-school, don’t think you’re going to be like Rocky straight away. Jumping rope is a skill, and takes time to get good at. start by swinging the rope either side of your body, and then forwards over your head (backwards is much harder).
  • Stay on the balls of your feet – Your heels shouldn’t touch the ground, which is part of the reason that it is so good for your calves. Relax, and try to softly jump up and down on the balls of your feet.
  • Use your wrists – Don’t rotate with your arms. Move your wrists in a circular motion and let the rope glide around you. Watching somebody new to jumping rope is a bit like watching somebody who doesn’t know how to swim; they work like hell but don’t get anywhere!
  • Listen to the rope – Experts and boxers both recommend listening to the rope. Get used to the rhythm and jumping when you hear the sound of the rope hitting the ground. This can be made easier by counting 1, 2, 3, 4 in your head (like musicians do).

Start Jumping

jumping rope to lose weight

Of course any skipping rope would do, but if you’re anything like me you’ll want the best skipping rope in the history of gravity.

That rope is the Rogue Bearing Speed Rope.

Unlike cheap skipping ropes, it is built to last and is adjustable. It also has the added benefit of using bearings (hence the badass name), which means that it can spin faster when you get good.

Regardless of the rope you go for, jumping rope to lose weight might be the smartest decision you ever make. It’s a great exercise that can be done anywhere, and a rope is cheaper than just about any other piece of equipment in existence.

Have a favourite rope? Or any tips to help others get started? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Matthew J Hall

    Good timing on the post. Now in Paris (on travel) and tho’ I am finding it tough to find some time to exercise given the work schedule, I did see a guy on a precipice overlooking a tunnel alongside the Siene jump roping and I thought, “now there is an odd spot to jump rope!” But hey – like you said – can / do / anywhere !

    • That’s the dream right there! Hope you’re having a great time in Paris Matthew (even though you’re on business), I love that city!

      • Matthew J Hall

        Yes – enjoying it. Long days of meetings, etc… then dinner. But I gave up on long nights of sleep! 🙂 Actually forced myself up and did some power walking. But I did a lot of strolling through a museum for about 3 hours last night!

        • Sounds awesome! Which museum? We had set aside a Tuesday to explore the Louvre, but it turned out that it’s the only day of the week it isn’t open! Typical.

          • Matthew J Hall

            Hit Louvre and Musee D’Orsay on Sunday and the other museum was Grand Palais which is also quite…GRAND! Too bad you hit the closed day!

          • I definitely missed out! Enjoy the rest of your trip Matthew 🙂

  • Jump rope is awesome. And it’s a silent killer. I add them in between my strength training just to get the heart rate up. Have you heard about weighted rope? I don’t use it, but just want to know what your thoughts are. 🙂

    • That’s a great idea Aqilah!

      I’ve never personally used a weighted rope. They might help to burn some extra calories, but as I understand it they are sold on the premise of helping to build muscle. Personally, I prefer to stick to bodyweight exercises and lifting weights to build muscle, and use the rope to work on my conditioning.

    • Anjelykuh

      What is weighted rope?

      • They are heavier ropes that take more effort to use.

        • Anjelykuh

          thank you

  • Anjelykuh

    so how do you measure a jump rope for my height or are they all the same

    • I believe the technique is to stand on the middle of the rope and make sure the handles are close to your shoulder.

      • Anjelykuh

        thank you so much i appreciate the response

  • If you don’t have room in your apartment or hotel room (low ceilings), could you just pretend you have a rope? If you hold something like two hairbrushes (or pens or something) and rotate them while you jump would you get the same benefits as if you had a real rope?

    • Absolutely! Although you could just jump up and down without having to pretend to swing a rope. I’d also suggest butt kicks and knee raises as an alternative. Thanks for stopping by Melissa!

      • I wasn’t sure if the wrist movement from pretending to swing a rope would be worthwhile to add on or not.

  • ruth

    Hello Will, wondering if you have any thoughts on whether skipping is a good alternative to running in regards to impact on the joints. My partner is 50 and wants to return to a good level of fitness that he had ten years ago, but he suffers from hip pain that is possibly due to weak glutes, or maybe from a bad ankle break from his teens. I have done some research on it and I am guessing that glute medius and minimus could be the problem. I have been exercising at the gym for two yrs at the gym and want to help him out. He would prefer to work from home without gym membership as he lives 30 minutes drive from town. I just got your eBook to share with him but wondered if you have any thoughts on this issue of joint pain and how to work around that to build up the muscles that the joints probably need to be more supported. And whether skipping is better than jogging in your opinion in this situation.

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