I swapped the treadmill for a skipping rope – here's what happened to my cardio

This single workout was enough to push my fitness through the roof

Skipping full body workout
(Image credit: Cecilie Arcurs/Getty Images)

That skipping rope you’ve tossed into the corner? It’s time to pick it up. Like many, I’ve read about the numerous benefits of skipping but still opted for the treadmill every time. But why is that?

Consider boxers: they incorporate skipping into their training routines, and their physique and cardio fitness speak for themselves. Watching my children skip and play, I remember doing the same—singing traditional jump rope songs and challenging friends to see who could skip the longest without getting tangled.

I’m not sure why I ever chose the treadmill or folding treadmill over the skipping rope, but I’ve switched back and have been having a blast. Here’s what I’ve learned and why skipping is now a key part of my workout routine.

The benefits of skipping 

Where do we begin? It’s cheap, fun, challenging, portable, burns a ton of calories, and can help improve your coordination. Not only that, but it also evokes memories of being a kid again - there are so many different techniques that you can do when jumping rope: high knees, one leg, crossovers, star jumps, or even double-unders.  You can’t have this much fun on the treadmill or stationary bike, can you? 

It’s also one of the best ways to enhance your coordination while burning a ton of calories. A study by Murray State University found that participants who jumped rope for 10 minutes daily for six consecutive weeks showed the same cardiovascular health improvements as participants who ran 30 minutes per day.

Additional research shows that low-impact jump rope cardio uses more muscles and burns more calories per minute than rowing, swimming, and many other low-impact workouts. It is one of those amazing all-around workouts which doesn’t focus solely on one part of the body.

You don’t just use your legs for the jumping part; you also use your abdominal muscles to stabilise the body and your shoulders, arms, and wrists for turning the rope.

I also like how portable the rope is. I recently took mine on a holiday, not knowing if I’d get to the gym. I didn’t, so I took to the balcony and did this 28-minute routine every day instead. 

Did I come back from holiday fitter than I was before? You bet I did. I didn’t have to workout inside a gym either or eat into my holiday time. Instead, I worked out in the morning sun and got in a full-body cardio workout without a treadmill in sight.

Skipping full body workout

(Image credit: Rawpixel)

My 28-minute skipping routine

Set a workout timer on your smartphone for 28 minutes, with 50 seconds of activity and 20 seconds of rest for each round.

For the first five rounds, alternate your jump rope styles for 50 seconds. You can switch between criss-crossing your arms to double-unders, high knees or regular skipping.

On the sixth round, jump down to the floor and perform 50 seconds of mountain climbers, pumping your legs as fast as you can. Jump back up and then continue with the jump rope for another five rounds. 

The goal is to complete all 28 minutes of the workout and to get faster with your rotations each time. 

Some days I loved just jumping and getting in as many rotations as I could, and other days I mixed things up and changed my skipping style with every round. The fun is in the variety.

Oh, and one last tip is to try NOT to get discouraged when you mess up. Simply untangle the rope and start again. 

Choosing your rope

Not one to go for a normal skipping rope, so I went for the AMP Weighted Jump Rope, sold by Crossrope (retailer link), which is available for a recommended retail price of £179/ $227/ AU$344.

It boasts a Bluetooth system that gives you real-time jumping feedback when you use the Crossrope app—I found this so fun and engaging. But you don’t need to go this technical. If you are looking for something more basic, then a bog standard jump rope is just fine—or a speed rope, which is lighter in weight for a faster skip. 

Oh, and if you don’t have a rope just yet, there is such a thing as an invisible rope. It’s not as much fun, but the power of the imagination is a wonderful thing, and jumping this rope can still be a fun cardio activity, whether it be at home, the park, or the gym. No rope. No problem. I'm just sayin'.

Lucy Miller
Freelance writer

Lucy Miller is a journalist, Level 3 Personal Trainer, Nutritional Advisor and Children’s Fitness Specialist. She holds fitness qualifications from NASM Training and Premier Training International and has been a fitness journalist and fitness (and cover) model for over 20 years. Since going freelance in 2014, Lucy left Men’s Fitness Magazine to write for an abundance of top consumer titles such as Women’s Health, Women’s Fitness, Waitrose, The Times, The Guardian and Runners World.

She’s also extremely passionate when it comes to educating others about health and physical activity and loves inspiring and working with children and adults to help make fitness fun, sustainable and accessible. In her spare time, Lucy is ever the sportswoman. Once a national gymnast, having won three national titles, she has also run a handful of marathons around the world and loves to test her physical and mental side with daily running and gym sessions, not to mention ballet, bootcamp, boxing and TRX.