Jumping rope is a form of cardio exercise that world-class athletes — from boxers to football pros — swear by. Jumping rope helps:

  • tone your calves
  • tighten your core
  • improve your lung capacity
  • build stamina.

Jumping rope is a full-body workout, so it burns many calories in a short time. For an average-sized person, jumping rope might even burn more than 10 calories a minute.

But jumping rope alone won’t be enough to help you lose weight. Jumping rope can be a part of a diet and exercise routine that revs your metabolism and helps you drop pounds fast.

However, there are a few other things you should know before you try it. Keep reading to find out more about jumping rope to lose weight.

The key to jumping rope for weight loss starts with understanding how to lose weight.

The medical literature agrees that the first rule of weight loss is to create a calorie deficit. A “calorie deficit” is simply defined as using more calories than you consume throughout the day. You can do this by being mindful of your food intake and by burning calories through exercise.

To lose one pound of fat per week, you need to create a consistent calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day. That amounts to around 3,500 calories per week.

The number of calories you lose through jumping rope will depend on how much you weigh when you start. A “calorie” is simply a measurement of energy. Weight is a measurement of gravity. When you weigh more, it takes more energy to work against gravity to move your body. That’s why people who are heavier burn more calories when working out.

Results from jumping rope vary depending on your:

  • diet
  • weight loss goals
  • activity level
  • level of commitment to the workout

You’ll also need to consider other factors, like your age and your metabolism, which could impact how quickly you see results.

As an example, we’ll use a 150-pound woman. Through mindful eating, she might be able to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories — one pound of weight loss — per week. If she adds a 20-minute jump rope workout to her routine, 5 days a week, she’ll lose an additional 200 calories per day. That’s an extra 1,000 calories burned per week, which will give her a weight loss boost of an additional half pound per week.

Doctors don’t recommend losing more than two pounds per week, as it can begin to affect your muscle mass.

At a rate of 1.5 pounds of weight loss per week, she will lose 6 pounds a month. If she sticks to her routine, she’ll lose 12 pounds in 2 months. As her weight decreases, she’ll have to jump rope for a longer duration of time, or restrict her calorie intake further, to continue to see the same results.

It could take up to 4 months for her to see dramatic results, like a 20-pound weight loss. A 20-pound weight loss would be a significant percentage of her starting weight, which might make this result difficult to achieve. Jumping rope at 155 pounds will burn significantly less calories than jumping rope at 125 pounds.

There are other factors to consider when you’re jumping rope for weight loss. For example, doing the same workout over and over will eventually yield diminishing results.

Cross-training through other aerobic exercise, such as weight training, running, or cardio kickboxing will boost the calories you burn and keep you from hitting the dreaded “weight loss plateau” where your routine stops working.

Before you start on any calorie restriction plan, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor about your goals and your health history. Diets like Keto or paleo are gaining in popularity, but factors like high cholesterol and heart disease might mean they aren’t a good choice for you.

A good place to start is to evaluate what you’re reaching for first in your pantry and fridge. Nutrient-dense, high-fiber forms of protein can cut down on hunger, while cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates will shave hundreds of calories from your daily consumption.

One misconception about jumping rope for weight loss is that you jump rope, only, for a solid block of time. The key to jumping rope as aerobic exercise lies in its capabilities for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). That means you work out at a high intensity level for short bursts, followed by resting periods. Here’s a sample jump rope workout. You’ll need a stopwatch or access to an app with a timer.

  • Set 1: Jump rope for 30 seconds straight. This may be harder than it sounds. Rest for 60 seconds, then do another 30 seconds. Repeat 9 times.
  • Set 2: Jump rope for 30 seconds straight while alternating feet, practicing shifting your weight back and forth and tightening your core. Rest for 90 seconds between reps. Do this 4 more times.
  • Set 3: End with a jump rope circuit combination. Do 30 seconds of jumping rope, rest for only 12 seconds before doing 30 seconds of jumping jacks. Rest for 12 seconds, and add in 30 seconds of burpees. Rest once more and finish strong with 30 seconds of pushups.

How to jump rope

When you use a jump rope as exercise equipment, you might want to invest in a specialty jump rope from a sporting goods store. A salesperson at one of these stores can walk you through the best ways to use a jump rope and if you’ll need special shoes.

If you’ve never used a jump rope, or if it’s been awhile, here’s a refresher on the basics:

Start standing straight and tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and the rope behind your feet.

Use your hands to swing the rope forward in one movement. As you’re swinging the rope forward, you’re also moving your wrists slightly upward so that the rope will come down between your ankles and your knee. You might want to practice this movement a few times and see where the rope falls before trying to jump over it.

Time your rope swing so that you can lift your knees together and hop over the rope when it comes over your head. Once you’ve done this successfully, keep going! See how many times you can pass the rope underneath your feet without stopping. This move may take some practice, but eventually it will come naturally.

Weight loss isn’t the only potential health benefit of jumping rope.

Jumping rope improves your heart health

When you use jump rope as a workout routine, you’ll be elevating your heart rate to a higher intensity than it’s used to. High intensity workouts have been shown to make your heart stronger and decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Jumping rope can decrease belly fat

No workout is effective on its own — without dieting — to get rid of belly fat. But HIIT exercise like jump rope has been linked to faster fat loss results, particularly around your abs and your trunk muscles. By pulling your core tight during a jump rope exercise routine, you can target that area and start sculpting abs.

Jumping rope can improve your balance

It takes some coordination and balance to pull off a full jump rope workout. But practicing consistently will improve your ability to do it and give you better balance and coordination in your day-to-day life, too. One study of young soccer players showed that jumping rope as a training exercise improved coordination and balance on the field.