Many people will see skipping as an activity that children took part in on the playground when they were growing up. However, it is also an activity that can be extremely beneficial for adults, as it is one of the toughest, most effective, and highly customisable cardio workouts around.
As a result, it has been adopted by professional athletes in various sports, especially combat sports like boxing, MMA, and other martial arts. The problem is, if you don’t already know how to jump rope, it can look very intimidating to pick up for the first time. Luckily, this is far from the case.
In fact, with just a little commitment, you can not only learn how to jump rope but also develop and follow challenging workout routines that will test even the most experienced rope jumpers.
So, with that in mind, we want to outline the ultimate skip rope workout plan for 2023. This will take you from a complete novice to a skip rope master in no time, and allow you to take your health, fitness, and well-being to levels you may never have thought were possible.
Muscles Worked With Rope Skipping
Rope skipping is an extremely effective cardio workout, but it can also be used to work on certain muscle groups in the body as well. This is because there are different ways to use jump ropes, so the exercises you do will have an impact on which muscles you work in a session.
In most cases, jump rope workouts will help develop one or more of a range of muscles that includes your abs, calves (including both the soleus and gastrocnemius), glutes, hamstrings, quads, and even your shoulders and forearms, due to the constant arm movements required to control the rope.
The Benefits Of Skip Rope Workouts
Workouts that use a skipping rope can offer a range of different benefits. While it will obviously work on many of your muscles, there are several other physical benefits of jumping rope that you can also utilize.
In addition to physical benefits, jump rope workouts even have certain advantages for your mental health they can offer. Some people describe skipping with a rope as an activity that has stress-relieving, almost meditative properties.
We will now take a quick look at some of the most popular benefits to jump rope workouts have to offer, to try and convince you to give one a try for yourself.
When you jump rope, it will push your heart rate up and cause you to start sweating. You will also be burning calories consistently the whole time during a session. This will help you to improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, allowing you to increase the intensity and duration of future sessions.
Beyond this though, training your cardiovascular system will also provide a range of other health benefits. This includes improving your heart function and blood circulation.
By burning calories at an elevated rate, you will also find you lose weight faster when you jump rope. This is because, once all of the calories have been used, your body will turn to burn fat to get the fuel it needs to continue performing the exercise.
Not only that, but the elevated heart rate you experience while skipping will boost your metabolic rate and keep it high for hours after the session. This means you will continue burning calories and fat long after you stop skipping, making it an excellent choice for people who want to lose weight.
While skipping can be used as an intense cardiovascular workout, it can also be done at a moderate or relaxed pace as well. This, combined with the great range of muscles it incorporates, makes skipping a fabulous option to warm your body up before a workout.
Skipping requires a great deal of coordination. Not only do you have to carefully time your jumps to the passing of the rope, but some of the more intricate jump rope exercises also involve lots of hand movements, making the exercise as a whole a fabulous way to improve your co-ordination.
Improving Bone Density
Much like how weightlifting boosts the strength of your muscles by first weakening them, exercises that include a small amount of impact can do the same for bone density. This makes skipping a great way to improve your bone density or stop it from deteriorating, due to either old age or inactivity.
Some people in the early stages of osteoporosis are even recommended to jump rope by doctors, as it can reverse the symptoms or stop the condition from progressing any further.
Choosing The Perfect Rope
While they may all look the same at first glance, there are many different types of jump rope on the market. Making sure you select the correct one will not only affect how successful you are at picking up the activity, but it will also play a huge role in your enjoyment of it as well.
No matter how experienced you are, for best results, you will want to use a skipping rope that is between two and three feet longer than your height. You also want to make sure it is made of a material that is lightweight and durable, while not costing you a fortune.
The thickness of the rope is then your next consideration. You don’t want it to be too bulky, as this will require more arm movement to get it going. That said, choosing one that is extremely light will add more speed to the activity and is better reserved for more experienced users.
Finally, pay attention to the handles of the rope. The material, design, and pattern of a handle will affect both your grip and comfort when using the rope, both of which play a huge role in your success and enjoyment.
Some skipping ropes will even allow for additional weight to be added to the handles, giving you the ability to make the activity harder and further develop your muscles.
How To Jump Rope/Skip
To use a skipping rope, you want to first stand in an area with plenty of space and hold a handle in each hand. Try to point your arms out from your body and slightly forward, so that they are at about a 45-degree angle from your body and your hands are roughly 12 inches (30.5 cm) from your sides.
Before you begin, make sure the rope is behind you, and the centre of it is right by your heels.
Now, while trying to keep your arms as still as possible, use your wrists to flip the rope over your head. As the rope is approaching your feet, hop over it by driving up with your ankles and the balls of your feet, rather than by bending your knees.
Make sure you start out slowly, going as slow as you can while still generating enough speed to keep momentum in the rope. As your ability progresses, you can then gradually increase the speed to advance your skipping ability.
The Ultimate Skip Rope Workout
There are many different workouts that you can do with a skipping rope. Each workout will be based around the same initial motion but will incorporate other movements and exercises to generate its own unique benefits. Using a combination of different workouts will give you the best results.
You will want to begin with the basic jumps that we looked at above and then slowly introduce an alternate foot step jump into your session. Once you have got the hang of these, you will then start to introduce the following exercises into your sessions.
Boxer Step Jump With The Skip Rope
The boxer step jump is a type of skipping where you will have your feet slightly separated, one in front of the other, rather than side by side. It is great for developing co-ordination and can help you to skip faster than you could in the traditional manner.
Each time you land, the foot at the front will take most of your weight, while the other is mainly for support. While you will be landing on the balls of both feet, you will want to allow the foot taking the weight to go slightly flatter, so that you can spread the weight out more.
Begin by alternating your feet as you go, so you shift your weight on every other step. Then, after you have got used to the movement, you can move up to two each side or, when you are confident enough, even do combinations of the two.
Jump Rope With High Knees
To jump rope with high knees, first practice jogging on the spot while bringing your knees up, until they are at least at a 90 degree angle from your waist.
You don’t want to go too fast but need to get into a rhythm where, as one foot is coming down the other one will start to go up. This will mean there is a small window when neither of your feet is touching the floor. Once you have mastered this, you can then incorporate the rope.
You need to time your swings so that the rope passes under you at the moment when neither foot is on the floor. While difficult to get the hang of, raising your legs higher will burn more calories, work your abs, and make it more challenging, especially when you get good enough to increase the speed.
Jump Rope Jacks
Jump rope jacks use the exact same movement as regular skipping, only with one small difference. On the first jump of a set, rather than landing with your feet still side by side, you want to open your legs, so that there is roughly a 12 inch (30.5 cm) gap between your feet when you land.
On your next jump, you will then close your legs to bring your feet back together. You will then continue to alternate, opening and closing your legs on each rep of the set. Like with crossing your hands, moving your legs like this is great for improving your co-ordination.
Criss Cross Jump Rope
Criss cross jump rope is a variation that applies a new element to the hands. It can be applied to various skipping movements and is a great option for improving your coordination. To perform criss cross jump rope, as the rope is passing over your head you want to quickly cross your arms.
Make sure to completely switch them, so your hands remain the same distance apart after the switch. You then need to quickly go back to the original position on the very next rep, to avoid getting tangled up in the rope.
You can then work this into almost any session, crossing on each rep, alternating reps, or as frequently as you see fit.
Jump Rope Mummy Kicks
Jump rope mummy kicks are almost like an inverted version of the boxer step jump with the skipping rope. Rather than jumping up and down on both feet as you skip, you will be jumping from one foot to the other, alternating on each rep.
The idea is to improve your leg strength and definition, as well as your coordination.
While doing this, you will then put your free foot forward, keeping it suspended a few inches off of the ground. Once you are comfortable doing this, you can then combine it with crisscross jump rope, so that you switch both your hands and feet in a synchronised fashion on each rep.
Single Foot Jumping Jump Rope
Single foot jumping jump rope is essentially a combination of jump rope with high knees and jump rope mummy kicks. It is a great option for developing strength and definition in both your legs and your abs. You will begin by performing regular jump rope.
When you are ready, raise one knee up in front of you, so that it is at roughly a 90 degree angle from your waist. You will then proceed to continue jumping up and down entirely on the one foot, before switching legs and continuing to skip for the same amount of time on the other.
Half & Full Twist Jump Rope
Half and full twist jumps utilise the same basic motion as regular jump rope. The only difference is that you will be twisting your lower body as you go, which makes it a great workout for your abs.
On half twist jumps, start skipping normally then, when you are ready, twist your hips 90 degrees, so you land with your torso facing forward and your feet facing to one side. On the next rep, turn your feet back so they land facing forward again, then on the following one, twist them to the other side.
You will then alternate your landing position through these three in rhythm throughout the set.
Full twist jumps are very similar, only after you start twisting you will cut out the landing where your feet point forward, so you are just going from side to side, with your hips rotating 180 degrees on each rep.
Side Under Jump Rope
Side under jump rope is another jump rope variation where you will perform normal jump rope but do something slightly different with your hands. Much like with criss cross jump rope, the idea is to help you work on your co-ordination.
To perform side under jump rope, begin performing regular jump rope. When you are ready, after the rope passes over your head, move both hands about 12 inches (30.5 cm) to one side. This will lead to the rope rotating just on the outside of your shoulder, rather than over your body.
As the rope is coming down on the next pass, you then want to quickly get your hands back into their original position, so that you can pass your feet over it without breaking stride.
Once you are comfortable with this, you can then try going from one side, back to the middle, and then to the other side, or even go from one side straight to the other before returning back to the middle. You can then obviously begin to increase your speed as well.
Heel Toe Step Jump Rope
The heel-toe step jump rope is one of the most challenging jump rope variations and requires a high level of coordination. Begin by skipping normally.
When you are ready, move your left leg back so that you land on the toes of that foot. On your next jump, move it forward, so you land on its heel. Then, on the third jump, land with it flat and in the middle again. On each jump, your right foot will land flat and in its normal position.
As soon as you land with both feet together again, immediately perform the same pattern with your right leg. You can then begin alternating between the two.
This is one jump rope variation where it is best to keep developments to things like your speed or hand movements to a minimum until you are extremely confident at performing the pattern.
Double Unders Jump Rope (Including Criss Cross Variation)
Double unders jump rope is done in just the same way as a normal jump rope. The only difference is that the rope must go under your feet twice on each jump. Doing this will boost your wrist strength and dexterity, as well as the explosiveness in your legs, as you will need to jump a little higher.
Double unders jump rope can also be done as a criss cross variation, although you will need to be able to jump rope at an extremely fast pace and have great co-ordination to pull it off successfully.
Jumping Backwards Jump Rope
Jumping backwards jump rope is performed the same way as normal jump rope, the only difference being the direction the rope is moving. That said, it is a move best reserved for more experienced people, as it is harder to know when to jump, so is easier if you have a feel for the rhythm.
Skipping is a fabulous activity and one that anyone who is serious about improving their health, fitness, or overall well-being should consider giving a try. With this guide, you should now have everything you need to either get started or take your jump rope training to new heights.
For those who really want to push themselves, you could try to improve your legs using dumbbells or kettlebells, to enhance your performance, or even use the rope directly to boost your shoulders.
Add in an effective diet and supplement routine, and you have yourself a well-rounded routine that will develop your entire body, both inside and out.
Steve is a retired professional wrestler with over 10 years of experience in the personal fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer working with a wide variety of athletes as well as a fitness writer.