What Muscles does Jump Roping Work?
Jump roping is probably one of the most complete workouts. It will help you burn fat, lose weight, and gain lean muscle mass while you improve your cardiovascular health.
Rope skipping training is not just for kids - quite the contrary! Many elite athletes include this exercise in their regular routine. Why?
When we talk about cardio training, we tend to think of running, cycling or even working out on the cross trainer, but skipping rope is actually just as effective. Plus, let's admit it, it's a lot of fun.
Jump roping offers additional benefits: it can be done just about anywhere, no equipment is needed (except the rope of course), it's not expensive and it will bring a touch of novelty to your workout routines. Jump roping also has many health benefits, especially for your cardiovascular system.
What muscles work when you are jumping rope? How do you use it to strengthen your buttocks, legs, calves and abs? And how can it help you burn calories and lose weight!
Believe it or not: jump roping is a full body work out!
Specifically, jump roping mainly targets the muscles in your lower body:
If these muscles are used, it is because they are the ones that allow you to generate the power your body needs to be lifted off the ground and let the rope pass under your feet.
However, jump roping is a very complete exercise, which is one of its main advantages. Although your lower body muscles are the main muscles used, skipping rope also works the muscles of the shoulders, arms (biceps, triceps and forearms) and core area (abs included), as these are the muscles you use to rotate the rope as you jump and to give yourself stability throughout the work out.
Rope jumping can help not only build, tone or strengthen muscles but also to maintain them (if you have any doubt, think about the main exercise boxers do in every movie – correct, its rope jumping). But, how long does it take to see your body build muscles?
Actually, the answer is: there is no right answer.
Building muscle doesn’t depend exclusively on the type of exercise you are performing, but also on your starting point (body fat percentage, body mass index, metabolism rate, initial weight, gender, age, among others).
The positive point is that, being such a complete exercise, rope jumping is more effective than other exercises that only target specific areas of the body and neglect the rest.
The important thing to know is that, as with other exercises, changes will not be visible right away, after the first session. You will have to make an effort and be consistent in order to see the results you expect. In fact, you will probably feel them before you can observe them in your body.
What does this mean?
- After at least 2 weeks (assuming you train 30 minutes per day, 3 times a week), you will notice that the exercise becomes less demanding. You are getting better at it, less tired and start mastering the movements. This means the effort is paying off and your muscles (and your body) are getting in shape.
- After 4 weeks, you should start noticing that your muscles have become stronger and firmer. This is when you start to gradually adapt training programs and increase their intensity (remember that setting goals is very important to stay motivated and challenge yourself all the time). To maximize the training effects of jumping rope in building muscle, you can try using a heavier rope. This will increase the workout intensity and require more strength. What muscles need to develop!
- After 8 to 10 weeks of regular training, you should start to see results. The muscles in the main areas of your body targeted by rope jumping are firmer, stronger.
Don’t overdo it!
Remember: More is not always better, especially if you’re trying to build muscle. Although it can be easy to caught up in this new jumping routine, by doing it every single day you won’t let your muscles recover and will probably end up with an injury. If you combine rest days with hydration, enough sleep and a healthy diet, you will get better results.
Finally, keep in mind that this is not only about building muscle, jump roping will also help you increase your elasticity, balance and coordination, and improve your reaction times. These are abilities that you can then transfer to other sports and athletic activities for improving your performance and maximizing the results.
Although jump roping can require a lot of physical effort (depending on the type of exercise you are doing though), you don’t need to be an expert to get started and begin to see its benefits for muscle building (and weight loss).
This is the most classic skipping exercise, the one you used to do when you were a child and spent hours practicing. This workout will be enough to tone your muscles, but you can also add it as an extra 30-second activity to your fitness or strength training circuits and repeat it after each lap.
If you are new at rope skipping activity, here’s what you need to do:
- Stand straight with both your feet together and grab the rope handles (one in each hand).
- Jump rope needs to be behind you and touching the ground behind your heels. If it doesn’t touch the ground, there is a chance the rope is too short and you won’t be able to jump it.
- With a natural arm movement, swing the rope in front of your body and down to the floor, jump it and allow it to go under your feet right to the starting position.
- Repeat and try to do it as fluent as possible (not pausing between jumps).
Jump skipping is the type of exercise you can perform with a target time (e.g. 30 seconds) or a number of repetitions (e.g. 50 jumps). Choose the one that best suits your current routines and start jumping!
If you feel adventurous and are ready to try other training programs, you can start with one-foot jumps. This will be the next level of difficulty once the "regular" rope jumps are no longer a challenge for you. Start jumping with both feet together and every 5 jumps, jump only on one leg. If you're looking for a bigger challenge, change leg at each jump. Do it for 45 seconds.
Here's another exercise: at each jump, extend one leg and touch the ground with your heel. You can switch legs at each jump and/or do it back and forth to increase the difficulty.
Do you know the famous “jumping jacks”? What about trying the rope jacks? Easier said than done: alternate the way you land after the jump (legs apart then legs together and so on).
For an even more difficult exercise, you can try the "twister", which consists of turning 90° while jumping and changing sides with each jump. It takes coordination and good timing to do this exercise well, but it's a lot of fun when you manage to do it.
Finally, what you can try instead of "jumping" is running through the rope. Yes, that's right. Just raise your knees higher than usual and run while jumping.
You will find more ideas for rope skipping in this video (for beginners and advanced):
Looking for an even tougher challenge? Add ankle weights (such as these - 0.5kg to 2kg per weight - or these) while jumping or alternate between rope jumping and push-ups or planks.
Would you like to incorporate rope jumping into a more complete training? Try this for example:
- 1 minute of rope jumping
- 30 seconds of push- ups
- 30 seconds of squats
- 1 minute of rope jumping
- Rest 30 seconds and repeat 5 times (15 minutes workout in total).
If you want to add more intensity to your workout, you can add body weights to the squats or try with one of the above rope skipping exercises with weights (such as these - 0.5kg to 2kg per weight - or these).
You can also try jump roping as part of an HIIT circuit. Here is an example of a HIIT workout routine for jump rope:
Finally, keep in mind that jump roping can be a very intense activity and a warm up is necessary to avoid injuries. Here are some ideas for warming up:
- 30 jumping jacks
- 15 squats
- 10 push- ups
- 12 front lunges (alternate legs).
Clara Miller has a Master's degree in Sports Science and has worked for famous sports and fitness brands. She is passionate about sports and regularly writes about fitness, weight loss and motivation for various blogs and magazines.