Forget about the funny rhymes you used to sing while jumping rope on the playground; this is one serious workout. Jumping rope can help you burn more than a calorie per minute, which is more than you can say about lots of other workouts. If regular jumping rope feels mundane, it's easy to add some running variations to spice up your workout and create even more of a burn.
Running on the Spot
The simplest running variation to the jump rope workout is running on the spot. If you're a beginner, you likely jump with your feet together. Experienced jumpers can alternate feet with ease, and an easy transition for you to practice is running on the spot, as though you're not jumping rope at all. Concentrate on taking rhythmic steps and passing the rope beneath your feet during each stride. Eventually, you won't have to focus on the rope at all.
After you're comfortable with running on the spot, the next logical variation is sprinting. Increase the intensity of your running until you're sprinting on the spot and turning the rope to keep pace with your strides. The key to sprinting while jumping rope is to lift your feet off the ground as little as possible and develop a rope rhythm based on your foot speed. A word of caution -- try this variation with long pants, because a rope whip at top speed can leave a painful welt on your ankle or calf.
Many common jump rope variations involve staying in one spot on the floor, but if you have room to move, try actually jogging while using the rope. This drill works indoors and outdoors; just be sure you're in a location without obstacles that can impede your progress. Jog across the ground as you would normally, while turning the rope at a rhythm in time with your steps. This workout gives you the health benefits of jogging, while also keeping your arms active.
To increase the workout for your legs and core, try running on the spot but lifting your knees toward your chest on each stride. Your pace doesn't need to be quick; lifting your legs high will create a burning feeling that helps you know the exercise is working. If you struggle with turning the rope slowly enough to be in time with your jumps, try a weighted rope, which is heavier and easier to turn slowly.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.