Quick & Effective Cardio: The Jump Rope Workout

Q. "I have a 7-month-old baby and am getting married this June. I am still desperately trying to lose weight before then. I just read your workout for arms, which I can do at home, but it also mentioned running four times a week for thirty minutes. I am in the military with a baby and I barely have time to do anything for myself; is there a cardio that I can do at home for 30 minutes? I just want to look somewhat normal in my dress!” —Samantha B.

jump rope workout

A. First of all, all brides are beautiful, and you will look better than “somewhat normal” in your dress! But I have the ideal solution for you as a busy mom: Jump rope. Using this one piece of equipment is a fantastic way to burn calories and lose weight, and you can jump rope at your own level of intensity for any length of time almost anywhere. In fact, in only 15 to 20 minutes, you can elevate your heart rate, work up a major sweat, and get an overall energy boost. It's a complete cross-training workout that combines elements of cardiovascular and endurance training with muscle strengthening. While you probably know how great jumping rope is for shaping the calves, glutes, and quads, what you may not realize is that the constant turning motion of the rope will also tone your upper body.

Getting Started
If it's been a while since you last picked up a jump rope, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, coordination doesn't always come easy, so be patient. Second, when selecting a jump rope, the proper length is important. Stand with both feet on the center of your rope; if the tips of the handles reach chest level, this is an appropriate length. Finally, jumping rope barefoot is not recommended; proper shock absorption is necessary to reduce the risk of injury to your feet and ankles, so wear an athletic shoe with lots of cushioning. 

The Basics
All jumps start with the rope behind you, next to your heels. The speed of the rope comes from your arms rather than your feet; your feet follow whatever pace your arms set. Be sure to not flex at the wrist while turning the rope. Try to keep the wrists as a natural extension of your forearm. Here are four easy moves to get you started.

  • Two-foot Landing: This is just as it sounds. You’ll push off your toes and land on both feet, bending slightly at the knees and pushing off your toes again for the next jump.
  • Heel-Dig: Jump on one foot while you place the opposite heel on the floor in front of you. As you bring the rope around, switch feet; continue to alternate as you jump.
  • Cross-Country Ski: This pattern is identical to the placement in actual cross-country skiing (one foot forward, one back), except that you need to jump a little higher to clear the jump rope. In the landing position of the jump, you will open your legs in a stride position and then switch legs as the rope comes over your head for the next landing.
  • Jumping Jack: This is just like the jumping jacks you remember from fifth grade, but the key is to coordinate the jump with turning of the rope. Turn once with the feet together, once with the feet apart — and be careful not to bring the feet out too far to the side, or you’ll risk catching the rope on them.

Since jumping rope is so aerobically demanding, the best way to build stamina is to use interval training, which alternates periods of work and recovery. For example, jump rope for three minutes followed by marching in place. Repeat this four or five times and before you know it, you'll have completed your workout.

If you have any questions or need assistance, email me directly at [email protected]. And follow me on Facebook for more get-fit tips. 

In fitness and in health!

—Bonne Marcus

bonne marcusGuest blogger: Bonne Marcus
A fitness industry expert for 27 years, Marcus holds numerous certifications from the Aerobic Fitness Association of America (AFAA), including Step, Spin, Bosu™, Pre/Post Natal, Youth Fitness, Aqua, and Personal Training. She has taught for New York City’s top health clubs, including Crunch, New York Health and Racquet, and Reebok Sports Club. A recognized name on Long Island, Bonne has taught at Dany Holdstein’s Two Worlds, North Shore Health Club, LA Fitness, Sport time, Equinox and currently teaches at the Sid Jacobsen JCC in Roslyn. Learn more at getfitwithbonne.com.