Jumping rope may bring you back to your elementary school days, when you were showing off some impressive double-dutch skills during recess. Fast-forward to the present, and you may have swapped the double ropes for double unders, but the fact still remains: jumping rope is an amazing workout you can do in just a few minutes, and an even better one with a weighted rope. Here's what you need to know about weighted jump ropes, their benefits, and why they're great even for beginners.
Why Jumping Rope Is Such a Good Workout
Jumping rope has tons of benefits beyond helping you develop some fancy footwork. "[It's a] low-impact endurance activity that efficiently incinerates calories while positively impacting every aspect of your fitness training," Joshua Vela, an NASM-certified personal trainer at Daily Burn, told POPSUGAR. "When jumping rope, expect to increase your cardiovascular threshold while increasing bone density, reducing your risk of foot and ankle injury, and honing in on dynamic balance and coordination skills."
Jumping rope is also a great way to get your whole body moving. Your legs, especially the calves, are obviously engaged, but with a variety of different jumping styles, "you will also be utilizing your anterior core, hip flexors, shoulders, back, hamstrings, and glutes," explained Jen Polzak, an ACE-certified personal trainer. Bonus: jump ropes are accessible and portable. Polzak noted that not only are they easy to use for most people, they're also compact enough to throw in a backpack to take with you on the go, or to bring outside for a fresh air sweat session.
The Benefits of a Weighted Jump Rope
One way to amp up your workout is to change the weight of your jump rope. Depending on your goals, you can get a regular jump rope, a lighter jump rope (speed rope), or a heavier one (weighted jump rope). A weighted jump rope allows you to do the same variety of jumps — like double unders, high-knees, and single leg hops — as a regular jump rope, but it "ups the challenge and muscle recruitment, which can lead to more calorie burn," Polzak told POPSUGAR. "Weighted ropes can also add a component of power training (how fast you can exert force), that is hard to do with an unweighted rope."
Because a weighted jump rope requires more muscular control, it can also add intensity to your workouts, Vela explained. "It will spike your heart rate faster than jumping with an unweighted rope, especially if you try to maintain the same tempo or intervals that you used with your unweighted rope." If you're looking for a way to make an efficient exercise even more efficient, a weighted rope may be the solution.
Weighted jump ropes can also target some new muscles. "As soon as you add the weighted jump rope to the equation, the shoulders and forearms will be on fire from the burn," Polzak said. "Our rotator cuff muscles in our shoulder are often underdeveloped, and adding a weighted jump rope can force these muscles to develop and to do their job of stabilizing the shoulder. The weighted rope can also help engage the back and triceps as well."
Although it may seem like more weight would require more skill or ability, both Polzak and Vela said that weighted jump ropes are great for beginners and advanced jumpers alike. The heavier weight of the rope means it will rotate more slowly and "give the user time to feel and time out the rotation, until they become a more efficient jumper," Polzak explained. Weighted ropes can help you nail down your form, too. "Some people like to start with a weighted rope, as the resistance and feedback allow you to work a bit slower. This can help if you're still working on your balance and coordination," Vela said.
Tips For Using a Weighted Jump Rope
Now that you're ready to get to (weighted) jumping, here are a few things to know.
- Keep your core top of mind. "It's important to maintain spinal stability while jumping by keeping your core muscles engaged. This is something that is often forgotten with this type of movement," Vela said.
- Use your wrists. Even though you're using your arms, it's really your wrists that are moving the rope. Vela explained that you should maintain stability through the shoulders down to your elbow: "The rotation should come from your wrist."
- Stay relaxed. Keep your eye gaze straight ahead, relax, and land on the balls of your feet, Polzak explained.
- Choose the proper length of jump rope. You don't want a rope that's too long or too short, but one that's just right for your height. Most jump ropes take the guesswork out by listing the height range, but "as a general rule of thumb, the handles should stop just below your armpit," Vela said. Polzak added that you can also order adjustable ropes to customize it for your preferred style of jumping.
- Listen to your body. Jumping rope can be demanding on the feet and calves, so anyone who may suffer from plantar fasciitis may have to be careful, Polzak warned. "Be very analytical when choosing footwear, and really listen to your body, as a little bit of jumping can have a huge impact on your foot health if you are prone to planar fasciitis flare-ups."
- Have fun. If kids can have fun jumping rope, so can you. "Start slow, and practice makes perfect," Polzak said. Vela added: "Be patient with yourself, put on some good music, and start by remembering it should be fun and enjoyable!"