Jump Rope 101: Jumping Rope for Beginners7 min read

Ask the average person to name some serious, effective exercises, and they’ll probably come up with words like “pull ups”, “burpees” or “bench presses”. If they’re more well versed in aerobics, they might mention “stair runs”, “elliptical workouts” or “wind sprints”. To be sure, these are all great workouts, but there’s one highly effective exercise most people might leave out, one which not only improves your cardiovascular health, but tones both your upper and low body muscles as well: jumping rope.

Health Benefits of Jump Rope for Beginners

The health benefits of jumping rope are undeniable; it’s a mainstay of professional boxers and other pro athletes for a reason! Not only does it burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health, it also tones your upper body, as holding the rope in a constant low-level tension over thousands of spins can significantly strengthen your traps and forearms. Of course, you’ll see greatly improved definition and strength in your glutes, calves and thighs as well. Jumping rope can also greatly benefit hand-eye coordination and balance, which is a huge help if you play other sports or work a physically demanding job.

Don’t forget that jumping rope is a low-stress exercise, meaning you’re less likely to injure yourself while doing it. All the motions are relatively small and the skips don’t come far off the ground, so you’re not putting a serious beating on your feet, knees and spine, making it a great exercise for beginners.

Why You Should Get Started Jumping Rope

For most people, jump rope is that game that kids play while singing rhymes on the playground, or maybe it’s that one boring piece of equipment that always went unused in gym class, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, jumping rope can be a highly practical and effective exercise for adults for three main reasons: portability, accessibility, and affordability.

  • Jump Ropes are Portable – The ability to coil up your rope and take it with you anywhere you go is one of the top benefits of jumping rope. If you travel a lot for work, or if you frequently commute between job sites, you may not always be close enough to a gym to get in a good workout. Going for a run requires either a treadmill or a outdoor route planned out. A jump rope routine, on the other hand, just requires a flat 4’ x 4’ surface to skip on and about 8’ of overhead clearance, both of which should be easy to find anywhere you go.
  • Jump Ropes are Accessible – People of all skill levels can learn how to use a jump rope without fear of injury because as stated above, jump ropes are very forgiving of beginner mistakes. Running, free lifting, and operating the weight machine all pose a risk of injury to untrained beginners who may not know proper form, but jumping rope is a low-stress exercise which is also self-correcting. In other words, you’ll know when you’re doing something wrong because the rope will stop moving. You can also skip rope in the privacy of your home, which for many beginners is much less intimidating than going to a gym.
  • Jump Ropes are Affordable – While a pair of running shoes might set you back anywhere from $50 to $500, and a gym membership can run into the hundreds to thousands of dollars per year, a decent jump rope shouldn’t cost you more than about $20 at the highest. There is no other piece of athletic gear that delivers better value for cost.

How to Start Skipping Rope for Beginners

The first step, gathering your equipment, is also the easiest; all you need is a jump rope, a pair of sneakers, and a portable boxing timer. We’re using a boxing timer here because it gives us a handy way to know when to start and stop our session, not to mention boxing and skipping rope have a long and rich history of association.

Next, make sure your jump rope fits you. When standing on middle of the rope with both feet, the ends of the handles should reach your armpits. Adjust the cord length if necessary.

Now you’re ready to start with a few practice skips. Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent, back straight and face straight ahead. Start with the rope behind you, and slowly bring it in an arc over your head. When you jump over it, try to slightly bounce off the balls of your feet only as much as you need to clear the rope; don’t take a massive jump.

After ten successful jumps in a row, you’re ready to start your workout proper. Start by skipping for three minutes, followed by a one minute break. This is where your boxing timer comes in handy to let you know when to start and stop. This three-on one-off round is your basic building block for your jump rope workout. You might start with just two or three rounds on the timer, then gradually add more rounds as you gain proficiency and aerobic fitness. For now, though, if you’re just starting out skipping rope, start low and go slow. Two or three rounds of slow to moderate skipping is enough for most beginners.

Once you’ve established your initial baseline and you’re getting comfortable with your routine, add another round to each of your workouts that week. Go on adding no more than one round per workout per week until you reach a point where time constraints keep you from skipping any more. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can train yourself up to skipping ten or more rounds in a single session.

How to Get Better at Skipping Rope

Your first few times jumping rope might be tough, but don’t get discouraged! Like all new skills, skipping rope takes a while to learn, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re tripping a lot. The important thing to remember is that as stated before, jump rope is a self-correcting exercise. There’s literally no way to do it wrong because the rope will stop moving when you do, so every time you trip your body is learning how to better coordinate and perform a new task. As long as you stick with it, you can’t help but get better.

That said, here are a few tips to keep in mind. If you’re tripping, first recheck if the rope is the right length with handles reaching your armpits when you stand on the middle. Try and use the moment the rope enters your field of vision as a visual cue to know when to begin the skip. If the rope hits the front of your feet, adjust your rhythm so you’re jumping a bit earlier in the swing. If you find yourself stepping on the rope, make sure you’re not pulling up too soon with your hands on the upswing. Keep your hands low and your arms relatively still; most of the movement should be from the elbows down. For now, just focus on a smooth, steady basic jump and save the tricks for later. When you’re ready, take a look at our guide to jump rope tricks for ideas on how to mix up your workout.

By focusing on the basics and adding rounds on the timer as you feel comfortable, you’ll get trained up on the jump rope in no time. Once you’re regularly blazing through 10+ rounds a session, you’ll start to see huge improvements in your cardio, upper and lower body muscle tone, and overall coordination and wellness. Get skipping and start reaping the benefits of jumping rope today.