Jumping rope isn’t just for kids. It’s a legit cardio workout that improves your coordination, boosts your metabolism, and makes you sweat like crazy.
“Jumping rope can be a great warmup and an effective cross-training workout for runners,” says James Bagley, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology at San Francisco State University. “It’s been shown to increase your metabolic rate 10 to 12 times above resting, depending on your cadence, similar to jogging at 6 to 7 miles per hour.”
That makes it an ideal cardio alternative when you’re short on time or it’s rainy, cold, or dark outside. “You can jump rope in a small space with minimal equipment, so it’s helpful when the weather’s bad,” Bagley says.
And much like running, the intensity of your jump rope workout is what you make it. “Jumping rope can be just as challenging as running at a fast pace, but you can also slow things down and use it as a warmup,” says Arnold Gonzalez, professional boxer and trainer at EverybodyFights in New York City. In fact, Gonzalez, and lots of other boxers, use jump rope exercises as both a light warm-up and an intense cardio finisher (that’s him in the video below).
“The constant jumping will also strengthen your calves, hamstrings, and glutes,” Gonzalez says, which are all muscles that can help you run faster.
See? Jump rope exercises are so much more than just a running alternative for rainy days—they can actually be really challenging and fun!
Just as in running, your form matters, so before you get started, take this tip: “Jump straight up instead of kicking your feet back and stay light on your feet to keep your rhythm going,” Gonzalez says.