Perhaps I am dating myself, but I began jump rope training in the 1980s and have essentially done so ever since. Yet after all these years, the jump rope remains one of my preferred conditioning tools. Not only is the rope a convenient and effective conditioner, it is useful at developing attributes such as coordination and agility. It is with good reason that combat athletes have relied heavily on rope skipping for countless generations. Plain and simple, it works.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Unfortunately, in recent years, I have seen many trainers alter their approach to jump rope training. Rather than programming jump rope workout routines based on time (ex. rounds), they have shifted towards workouts that are based on a single turning style. Double unders have become the most popular choice. I’m sure we have all seen a workout that included 50 double unders for time.
Now before I continue, let me be clear that double unders are an effective turning style. I am not suggesting otherwise. I have performed thousands of double unders and teach several variations within my jump rope DVD. Therefore, I am not here to dismiss double unders, but to instead remind athletes that there are other beneficial turning styles as well.
To highlight this point, I created the brief video below.
Within the clip, you will see a comparison between sprinting in place and performing double unders. From a pure conditioning standpoint, sprinting in place at top speed with high knees is much more challenging. An efficient rope skipper can actually perform double unders continuously in a relaxed state. The same cannot be said of an all out sprint.
Yet oddly enough, when I receive questions about jump rope workout routines, I would guess that 9 out of 10 are based solely on double unders. It is rare that a week passes without receiving at least one jump rope question. For instance, I am often asked what rope is best for double unders (i.e. what rope makes them easiest). I also get questions about how to perform double unders. Meanwhile, I can’t recall the last time I was asked about sprinting in place with the rope.
In terms of popularity, double unders are light years ahead. Popularity does not always equate to effectiveness however. As a conditioning exercise, much more work is performed when you are sprinting in place. Sure, it isn’t as easy to count reps, which minimizes the potential of “x reps for time” workouts, but that too is irrelevant in regards to effectiveness.
In summary, I encourage you to include variety within your jump rope workout routines. Do not limit yourself to a single turning style. Sprinting in place with the rope is easy to learn and highly effective. Flashier techniques may attract more attention but are rarely more effective.
As for sample routines, one that I have performed for several years includes the following.
- 5 minutes continuous skipping (freestyle) – rest 60 seconds
- 5 x 60 seconds (sprint in place) – rest 30 seconds between intervals
- 5 x 30 seconds (sprint in place) – rest 15 seconds between intervals
This type of jump rope workout is short, yet intense. I have used it as a brief conditioning workout as well as a finisher. During other rope sessions, I will perform more continuous work (ex. timed rounds) where I integrate a variety of turning styles and speeds. This varied approach has allowed me to continually enjoy and benefit from the rope after all these years.
It’s always useful to have a conditioning exercise that is fun, effective, and can be performed almost anywhere. Jump rope training certainly fulfills each of these requirements. I bring a rope with me wherever I go. If it wasn’t effective, I would have left it behind a long time ago. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like I will ever outgrow the jump rope in this lifetime. I hope to be skipping for as long as I’m kicking.
“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” – Leonardo da Vinci