I didn’t jump rope as a kid. I do remember I owned a pink plastic jump rope with squishy handles, but I never used it.
Wait, I did run, dragging it around by one handle, to get the dog to play chase. But I didn’t utilize it for its intended purpose.
I was into other activities.
However, I did adopt a passion for jumping rope when I got into fitness. I had a trainer that showed me the immense efficiency and benefit of skipping. “Quick bursts of high interval work, in between sets, catapults your workout from “meh” to miraculous,” he would say. (Yell actually, he was always yelling.)
Jump Rope Basics: A Beginner’s Guide To Skipping
When I started skipping, I was like an epileptic donkey, and anyone within seven feet would necessarily take cover. Over time it became smoother, fun even, and now I never leave home for a trip without my Jump rope tucked inside my suitcase. I wrote an article entitled, “Six Simple Jump Rope Techniques To Fire Up Core And Cardio,” but I overlooked the fact that many “jump-ropers” are just beginners, trying to navigate one rotation, not hundreds.
I wanted to come back to the subject of skipping and go over the basics of starting a jump rope routine as part of your diverse training approach.
First, maybe I need to talk you into it.
“Why would I want to jump a rope?”
Okay so maybe you run, hike, or ride a bike. Wonderful. But what if you are stuck in a place where there is not a lot of space, like a hotel room? What if you want a change of pace, something that is fun and playful?
Plus, that many professional boxers cannot be wrong!
Jump rope is also cheap, convenient, and fun way to get the heart rate up. Skipping will test flexibility and build strength all in one tiny little length of rope. And as if you needed more convincing, jump rope is excellent for balance, coordination, weight loss and improved stamina.
“How do I know what jump rope to use?”
This is an excellent question. Jump rope has regained in popularity over the last decade, largely due to the Cross Fit crowd and their GD Double Unders. The Cross Fit community has a fancy, (but lethal should you smack yourself in the calf with it), jump rope option HERE.
I do not recommend this rope for beginners. But, if you are a little further along in your rope basics, this is an excellent choice.
Personally, I pick my rope based several factors:
- LENGTH – The right measurement for a jump rope is determined by performing the following steps: Stand on the center of the rope and bring the handles evenly up to your chest. Do the tops of the handles hit the middle of your sternum? If so, that is the perfect length. If the rope is longer or shorter, you might have difficulties. In many cases it’s not you that is the problem with jumping (epileptic donkey), it is that you are using the wrong length of jump rope.
- WEIGHT – I like to have a weighted rope for travel. Often I find myself in a place where the weight training options are in short order. With a weighted rope, you get a great arm workout in addition to all the endurance and flexibility training. Otherwise, unweighted ropes are perfect. If the rope is too light, however, the “snap” suffers. (See #3)
- SNAP – This is a “feel.” As you improve your jump rope technique, you are going to sense the “snap” of a rope as it hits the ground. The more you practice, the more you will get to know that sweet sound.
- CONSTRUCTION – There are many cheapo (quality, not price) ropes out there. That said, most jump ropes are surprisingly affordable. Spend between 10 and 15 dollars and you should get a great quality rope.
- ADJUSTABILITY – This is an often overlooked factor. When you are just starting out, you are not going to know the exact length of your perfect rope. Get a gross “right length” assessment before you purchase. Then as you get better at jumping you can adjust the length slightly as you get more in tune with what works best for your height.
- HANDLES – The grip of a jump rope is important. Handles should rotate easily around the rope, and they should be comfortable to grip. I like a foam handle, but the plastic handles can be just fine too. Handle “feel” is, in the end, a personal preference.
“How do I start?”
- Make sure you have lots of space. (No dogs or small children nearby). One way I do this is I look at the height of the ceiling, and if that is sufficient, then I lay out the rope end to end to make sure I have enough floor space.
- Begin with the rope behind your heels. Keep your palms facing forward with a loose grip on the handle. Always keep your elbows close to your side.
- For the first few rotations, swing the rope over your head to just in front of your toes and then gently jump over the rope with both feet. You can also practice a Toe Catch. This means, bring the rope over your head and catch it just underneath your toes. Roll it underneath your feet until it releases out the back.
- Now, do some pretend jumping. Imagine you have a jump rope in your hands, and practice the movements without actually using the rope.
- You are ready to try with the rope.
- Do one rotation at a time until you get the hang of whole the rope feels circling your body.
- Advance to taking the rope through five rotations at a time. Avoid the “double bounce.” Double bouncing permanently limits your ability to advance to any of the more high-intensity jump rope workouts. Here is a VIDEO to teach you how to break the double bounce habit!
- Try to increase the number of rotations you can do at one time. Eventually, work up to 25 rotations and then a brief rest.
Some points to remember.
- Keep your posture upright
- More wrist, less arm.
- Avoid jumping to high or kicking your heels back.
- No double bounce
Here is a video on learning jump rope that I found very helpful. Dr. Sara has a whole Youtube jump rope series!
“How do I get better?”
10,000 hours to mastery of any one thing, according to Malcolm Gladwell. Well, you don’t need ten thousand hours, but you do need a lot of time under belt (or rope) to smooth out the hatchet-like movements that come with beginner jump roping.
When I learned how to ski, a ski-mentor took me down difficult mogul runs for which I was not at all prepared. I cried, sat down, and fell a few times, but by the end of two or three runs, I was improving. When I went back to the beginner runs, I could suddenly execute them with agility and speed that I lacked before. There is advantage to chunking through a more difficult task in efforts to master something more simple. So, with that riveting analogy in mind, practice different moves such as doing a high knee with each rotation or even jumping with just one leg. The more you can attempt advanced moves; the more simple jump techniques will become child’s play.
Here is a video on some slightly more advanced jump rope moves.
Jump rope is a tremendous addition to your workout “tool belt.” It is a great way to infuse variety, yes, but the flexibility, strength, and agility advancements you’ll make will pay back ten fold.
Want a jump start on your fitness routine? We’ve got the perfect 10-Day Online Jump Rope Clinic for you! 10-minutes a day will have burning fat and building lean muscle. Plus, it’s outright FUN!
This week get a jump rope. Your local sporting goods stores all carry them. My favorites are listed below. Try infusing just two or three minutes of skipping for a full body workout anywhere.
BEGINNER JUMP ROPE
Want something fancy? Check out my favorite jump ropes.