Is Jump Rope Better Than Jogging?Posted on Nov 10th 2009 1:00PM by Liz Neporent
Is it true that three minutes of jumping rope is equivalent to 15 minutes of jogging? - Samantha Janes, New York City
I've gotten this question a lot over the years and I don't know where it comes from. The short answer is no, this is not true.
While both have the potential of being good cardio workouts, most people can't jump rope continuously for more than a few minutes. Jumping rope definitely works more muscles than jogging but the trade off is that it's even higher impact than running -- which itself is a fairly high impact activity. Skipping rope burns about 10 calories per minute whereas a moderately paced jog burns about 13. You can churn up as many as 18 calories per minute jumping rope but few people have the skill or stamina to last very long at that intensity.
Putting aside the myth for the moment, I am a big fan of jump rope. What seems like child's play actually delivers an excellent cardiovascular workout plus it firms muscles and improves coordination and agility. It's also a budget conscious, "take anywhere" workout.
To get the most from jumping ropes you have to do it right – boxers and little girls make it look easy but most people I see jumping rope make a lot of mistakes that diminish the effectiveness of the workout and set up injuries. Here are my best skip tips plus a suggested beginner's workout you can weave into your overall routine once or twice a week.
• Don't take two hops per turn; this is the number one error I see people make. It over-stresses knees and ankles and cuts down the calorie burn. Instead, stay up on the balls of your feet and spin your rope moderately fast (70-120 turns per minute) and evenly so you take only one jump per turn of the rope.
• Use your wrists, not your shoulders, to turn the rope. Bend your arms and keep them close to your body, at hip-to-waist level. Don't jump more than an inch off the ground and keep your knees springy.
• Aerobic shoes and those with extra ankle support and padding at the ball of your foot are best for jumping. Ideal jumping surfaces: padded carpets and "sprung floors" like those found in basketball courts and aerobic studios.
• If you have trouble synchronizing upper and lower body movements when jumping, fold rope in half and hold both handles in your right hand. Grip the center of line with left hand and hold hands up near waist level so that loop is off to side. Now jump as you turn the loop. Stay low, bending knees slightly as you touch down, and swinging the rope in unison with your feet. Once you have mastered this timing, it should be easier to learn the jumping moves.
Alternate one minute of jump rope with one minute of marching in place for a total of 15 minutes. If you do this twice a week on a regular basis you should be able to gradually work your way up to a 30 minute workout. At that point you can switch to a 2:1 ratio of rope/march or replace the march with something higher intensity like running in place or a series of strength moves. I've given you different types of jumps to try so you can keep things interesting and perfect coordination and agility, two things often lacking in a fitness routine.
• The Basic Two Foot Jump is the simplest move to learn so try it first: Stand with your feet together in front of the rope line. Bend your elbows and hold your arms out to sides at about hip level. Spin the rope and, as it approaches your toes, skip over it. Stay low, only jump an inch or so off the floor and when you land, allow knees to bend slightly to help absorb impact.
• Boxer's Shift and Shuffle: Spin rope and, as it approaches toes, shift your weight slightly to the left, move left foot a small distance forward, and jump, again staying low and slightly bending knees on touch down. On the next spin, shift your weight right. Continue alternating. Spinning the rope a little faster and jumping low instead of trying to spring way up off the floor will help you establish a smooth steady rhythm.
• Knee Lifts: Turn the rope and as the line passes beneath your feet, bend your right knee and lift it up to chest level. On the next turn, repeat with left leg. Continue alternating. Make it more challenging by walking or running forward as you do your knee lifts.
• Cross Country Ski: Spin the rope and, as it passes underneath, open legs about a stride's length apart by straddling left foot forward and right foot backward. On next pass, move legs back to the center, and then on next pass, straddle legs again, only this time move right leg forward and left leg back. Continue alternating. Land softly and quietly bending your knees slightly to help absorb the impact.
I am not a fan of leather or cloth ropes; they don't hold their shape very well and they are harder to spin. I prefer plastic, plastic-coated wire or plastic beaded ropes. I found my favorite jump rope in a toy store for a dollar but I recommend the Super Rope for beginners and experts alike. It has angled handle and ultra-thin coated wire line. (I am not associated with this company in any way but if you are the fifth one to tweet me today I will send you one.)
For the second week in a row I am including a link to a stretching article. Jump rope is a very bouncy movement so it can leave the muscles tied up. A good post-workout stretch will help keep the muscles long, strong and injury free.
Liz Neporent is a diet and fitness expert and co-author of "The Fat-Free Truth."She regularly appears on national TV programs and is the president of Wellness 360, a New-York based wellness provider. You can also follow her on Twitter @lizzyfit.