The best exercises one can do to enhance their physical fitness are often the simplest. Strength-based movements like push-ups and sit-ups have long been staples of workout regimens directed toward fitness buffs ranging from beginners to experts.
On the cardio side, walking, jogging, swimming, and biking are among the most popular forms, but there’s another straightforward cardio movement that can both burn some serious calories and help you build strength: Skipping rope. (Related: How does jumping rope compare to other forms of cardio for burning calories?)
If you’re new to the exercise or dipping your toes in the jump roping waters for the first time since your days on the playground, chances are you might be a bit rusty. Practice may never make perfect with jump roping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find progress along the way.
Read on as we recap the top five things to do if you want to get better at jump roping.
1) Find the Right Jump Rope
One of the most common mistakes new jump ropers make is selecting the wrong rope. There are a lot of variables involved with jump ropes, and one wrong choice can really work against you. For a newcomer to the scene or someone just looking to improve their performance, a weighted jump rope is not ideal. Because they weigh more than a speed or standard jump rope, you’ll need to exert more energy to use it, which can make you tired and cause you to compromise your form.
Your height is also important because that will determine the length of the rope you should select. Whether using the chart or the armpit method, the real secret to sizing your jump rope is measuring the clearance of the rope as it travels over your head. Choose wisely.
2) Select a Suitable Surface
While jump roping in playground dirt might have been OK for you as a kid, it’s hardly the best surface to use as an enthusiast looking to get better. One of the most vital things to remember is that jump roping should be a low-impact activity.
Always look for a solid surface to jump on, and if you’re going to be outside, lay down a mat for a little more forgiveness (trust us, your knees will thank you). Concrete is not forgiving on your joints, and carpet can impact the course of your rope, so steer clear of those surfaces whenever possible.
The ideal surface for jump roping is a suspended wood floor or one made of rubber, like you might find in a gym. These types of surfaces provide absorption for your joints by distributing shock and having a little bounce to them. Win-win.
3) Practice Proper Form and Breathing
Remember, jump roping is a full-body activity, and you must keep that in mind as you consider proper form. First, you can protect your ligaments and joints—and save some energy—by slightly bending your knees while jumping. Next, be sure to land on the balls of your feet. Landing on your heels not only increases your chance of injury but can also throw you out of rhythm and hinder any potential improvement.
Though it may sound counterintuitive, the best jump ropers don’t rely much on their arms. Instead, they use their wrists to power and spin the rope over their heads. Proper form here involves keeping the hands near the front of the hip bones, with your wrists pointed outwards and doing all the work. Letting your arms travel too far away from the body affects the speed of the rope and can also shorten it, forcing you to work much harder than what is actually needed. If you can stick to small and controlled circles, you’ll achieve maximum efficiency, and it will feel like the jump rope is almost turning itself, thanks to the momentum you’ve created.
Lastly, while jumping, don’t forget the importance of breathing. If you can find a good cadence with your breathing, regularly inhaling and exhaling in rhythm, you may be able to avoid becoming gassed quickly. Endurance is a key factor in jump roping.
4) Master the Basics Before You Move On
As tempting as it may be to try and tackle some advanced jump roping tricks like one-foot hops, criss-cross, and everyone’s favorite, the boxer step, understanding and mastering the basics first will provide you with the foundation you need to elevate your jump roping. The single bounce step and jog step are the first two moves you should learn, followed by skiers, speed steps, and side swings.
Come out of the gates too hot or too ambitiously, and you risk getting hurt. An injury to your ankle or knee (even a minor one) could cost you weeks of training and result in a major setback. As with most things related to fitness, improving your jump roping ability will take time, so be patient and give yourself some grace.
5) Keep Track of Your Progress
If you had a goal to run a marathon, you would monitor your results and track how well you’re training, right? Jump roping should be no different. The only way to accurately recognize growth and measure improvement is to track your progress. A variety of jump rope apps are available for your smartphone that allow you to chronicle your evolution toward jump rope greatness. Prefer an old-school approach? There’s nothing wrong with jotting down your progress in a notebook as you go.
Some notes you might want to record include the duration of your activity, the tricks you completed, how many calories burned, what you thought you did well, and any areas ripe for improvement.
Ready to Take Your Game to the Next Level?
If you’re committed and ready to become the best jump roper you can be, Elite SRS can help. Check out our jump rope tutorials, complete with videos featuring top tips on footwork and tricks, and the how-to section of our blog. With innovative and high-quality products like our Beginner Progression Jump Rope Bundle and Do Hard Things™ Heavy Beaded Jump Rope, Elite SRS has your back throughout your jump roping journey.