Jumping rope is becoming more and more popular especially with people that are looking for relatively easy activities that don’t require going to the gym regularly. Learning how to jump rope, however, might be a little tricky especially if you haven’t done that before in your life. This is why I decided to make this article and walk you through some of the basics of jumping rope and also give you a few exercises and example workouts that will keep you busy in your first months. So, let’s jump straight into this!
Prepare your rope
As I’ve already discussed in my best CrossFit jump ropes guide, there are multiple types of ropes along with many other material, length, and weight differences. Choosing the right rope for you will depend on a lot of factors the further you go into jumping rope. Still, the very first thing that you nail is the length of the actual rope.
The correct way of measuring an ideal jump rope length for your body is by stepping in the middle of it and getting both handles up as high as possible to your shoulder. The length of the cable itself should reach the area of your breasts or right underneath your armpits. That typically requires a rope that is 3 ft higher/longer than you, meaning a 5 ft person will need an 8 ft cable length.
The next thing we will talk about is a habit that a lot of us had when we started jumping rope…
Get Rid of the Double Jump
Double jumps (with one jump happening between the rope’s next full rotation) is a common mistake beginners do since it is way easier to do it that way. It is, however, wrong and also very hard to remove as a habit after you’ve spent months doing it. This is why you should try to completely remove it from your routine before it has set deep into your muscle memory.
The best way to do that is by jumping without a rope in a continuous rhythmic fashion. Keep jumping and count every jump in your head, as that is another valuable skill that you will use in the future. Envision the rope going beneath your feet every time you jump and try keeping your jumps singular without excessive or parasite motions around the actual jump movement.
Now, let’s get to the actual jump rope exercise and the correct steps to do it!
Doing Your First Jump Rope Exercise
Before you get to the actual jumping part, here are a few essential movements you need to go through:
- The rope spinning should always start from the back of your feet. Rotate it upwards with your hands moving as little as possible. Remember that the rotation comes mostly from your wrists and not that much from the rest of your hands.
- Practice a few toe catches. Every time you want to stop, you have to catch your rope. You do that by stepping on the ground with your feet and raising one foot with its toes in the air. Catch the rope and put the foot down. Once its there, you can easily get it into its starting position.
Now that we’re done with the basics, here are some core fundamentals to a correct jump rope workout:
- Keeping your feet close together – One major mistake people do is not having their feet close to each other when jumping but rather have them shoulder-distance apart making it easier to jump but harder to not trip on the cable. Keeping them closed will make it slightly harder to balance and stay in one place but will make it much easier for the rope to go around you.
- Use the midsoles of your feet – The midsoles are meant to cushion most of the impact from the jump. This is why using them is essential to prevent trauma in the long run.
- Bend the knees slightly – Bending your knees slightly is another good mechanism that prevents injuries and joint-stress. By doing that, your body takes a spring-like form that allows for more bounce and softer impacts every time you hit the ground.
- Keep your posture correct and upright – Keeping a proper posture is essential to balancing your body right during the jump rope session. Your spine should be neutral, your chest and head should be kept up with your head looking forward all the time instead of downward to your feet. I knot that it will be hard not looking at your feet at first but try to fix your eyes at a point that is ahead of you and make your whole body work in sync with itself. Your shoulders should be pulled back with your elbows pointing downwards and to the back.
- Using wrists to turn the rope – This is another huge mistake people do when they first start learning how to jump rope.
Of course, the beginning of each exercise should be focused around warming up for it, even though you can warm up and wind down with the jump rope as well, just take it slowly.
Beginner-Friendly Jump Rope Exercises
There are 5 relatively easy jump rope variations that are going to be the groundwork for all of your future workouts and combinations. These are:
- The double under
- Side swings
- Boxer step
- Alternate foot step
Let’s take a look at each one of those and see how exactly they’re performed and how you benefit from having them in your arsenal.
The double under
Double unders are in the core of most anaerobic exercises due to their high intensity and the way they increase your heart rate. In their essence, they are two passes of the rope beneath your legs in the time of one of your jumps. They are very famous since many kids try to do them as a challenge and it sticks with people that have tried jumping rope at one point or another. Double unders are also essential for Crossfit and have a whole training culture based around them.
Cross-over is a type of technique with jump ropes that has your elbows crossing in front of your chest. That results in a twist in the rope that creates a lower loop and an upper loop with the lower loop going under your legs.
While they are relatively easy with longer ropes, they aren’t as easy with short ones and you will need a few tips to do them properly without getting caught on the rope at high speeds. You should:
- Cross your elbows almost touching them. That will assure a maximum width of the lower loop of the rope
- Don’t be stiff when crossing over. Try having a flowing motion without stopping your arms in any phase of the technique
- Keep rotating the wrist during the crossover. As you cross, point your thumbs behind you, and as you un-cross bring your thumbs in front of you. That will create a nice revolution and will generate more speed in the rope.
- Tilt your upper body a little forward. That will give your elbows room to work with and will enable you to do really wide crosses.
Side swings don’t really involve jumping the rope. They are a good way to exercise your upper body especially if you’re using weighted handles. They are also a good exercise for your body coordination. What they are is a rope spinning next to your body by either one or two of your hands. Both of the handles are usually in one hand. As I mentioned, the rope doesn’t go under your legs but rather next to them still hitting the ground and still making a noise that will help your body’s jumps tune into that tempo.
As the name suggests, this type of jump has been popularized by boxers. It is very similar to the alternate foot step exercise with the jumps from one leg to another being slightly more pronounced giving you a workout for the ages and a footwork master class at the same time!
Alternate foot step
The alternate foot step jump rope exercise is as famous as the double unders when it comes to jump rope techniques. It is, as the name suggests, an alternation between your left and right foot at each jump. For your jumps only land on one leading leg in a sequence like this – Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot, and so on. those are great if you’re tired and want to get a few more reps in and also do wonders for stability and core strength. They are also a step harder than normal jumps making them the ideal next level for beginners.
Jump Rope Beginner Workout Example
Every workout has to have a plan. Jump rope workouts are no different. Here is an example workout for most beginners that will get you through your first months of jumping rope seamlessly:
- Warm-up and stretch for 10 minutes
- Start jumping rope with a slow tempo for around 5 minutes until you break a sweat
- Pick the pace up and do 15 jumps at a time with small breaks in-between
- Repeat that for 20 minutes
- Once you feel comfortable with 15 consecutive jumps, raise the bar!
- Wind down by doing some slow jumping or some light stretching
You can mix in other types of workouts with the jump rope but make sure that they don’t stiffen you up since that will ruin your form and flow during the rope jumping. Pushups are great but they will make your wrists and shoulders stiffer than you need them to properly flow during a jump rope workout.
A Few Extra Tips
There are some things you can do additionally to make things easier for you when you’re starting to jump rope. One of those things is to find softer surfaces. While concrete, stone, or asphalt are great for precision, rubberized or softer surfaces are great for beginners that need to learn how to control their jumps. Those beginners typically suffer from pain in their soles and joints in the legs due to the excessive hitting off the ground. As you learn how to bounce properly, you can move onto harder surfaces where you will be able to work on your technique and different moves. Grass fields like stadiums aren’t ideal but work well if you have a slim rope and the grass is trimmed well.
Another tip is to get a lighter rope. There is a huge debate around rope weights and what not but the best advice would be to start off light and build your way to ropes with weighted handles if that is your thing.
Lastly, try wearing clothes that aren’t too saggy and are actually tighter around your body. Leggings and tights work best in all sorts of climates with a top hoodie if the weather isn’t ideal. They will prevent the rope from catching onto your pants or other parts of your clothing.
The process of jumping rope gets easier the more time you spend on doing it. This is why learning how to jump rope is relatively easy, especially if you decide to spend a little time on it. As a whole, this exercise has a steep learning curve that is hard in the beginning but gets really easy once you get the hang out of its essential components and movements.