Jumping rope is not just child’s play. It requires balance and strength as well as stamina, and it’s an effective way to get your heart rate up into your target aerobic range. There are several varieties of jump rope styles, so enjoy trying out the different types until you find the one that best suits your purpose. Whichever style you choose -- when doubled -- the handles should reach your sternum for a perfect fit.
Children’s Jump Ropes
Jump ropes designed for little kids come in a variety of materials from braided cloth to plastic cording. They are generally not very heavy and often not quite long enough for an adult to use. But if you’re away from home and in need of a little exercise, a child’s jump rope will do in a pinch, as long as it is not so short that it will trip you. These won't really target any area well, but a little exercise will almost always lighten your mood.
Cloth ropes are made of machine-braided cloth or plastic with plastic or wooden handles. They are lightweight and inexpensive, which makes them a good choice for beginners. Starting with a cloth rope helps target basic jumping skills such as balance, rhythm and endurance. It also helps build muscle memory. But cloth ropes tend to be a little floppy and hard to whip through the air -- using these ropes might get frustrating as you improve your jumping. On the plus side, they will not damage carpets or floors, though they will eventually fray if used on concrete.
Beaded ropes contain a number of heavy plastic beads strung along a central core. They are a little heavier than cloth ropes and they move slightly faster through the air, meaning you can get more rotations than with a cloth rope. This helps you increase the number of jumps, which strengthens your legs and increases endurance. Moving faster also gets your heart rate up, increasing the overall intensity of your workout. Beaded ropes are still a bit lightweight for a serious workout, but as part of a warm-up or circuit training they’re inexpensive and easy to use.
Like cloth or beaded ropes, the thick cords of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, with plastic handles are inexpensive and a good choice for beginners. PVC ropes move more quickly through the air than either cloth or beaded ropes, allowing you to increase both your speed and work on your agility.
Leather ropes are more expensive than cloth, beaded or licorice PVC ropes, and they’re also available with wooden or plastic handles. Leather ropes whip through the air quickly, increasing the intensity of your workout, so if cardio is your goal and you’re already good with balance, agility and speed a leather rope is your best bet.
Speed ropes are also made out of PVC, but many come with ball bearings in the handle, allowing far more rotations. These are used by athletes serious about integrating jumping rope into their routines, such as boxers. The increased rotation rate forces your reactions to speed up, making the workout harder and more intense which builds stamina. The ball bearings also allow you to get fancy with your rotations, doing crossovers and other moves without worrying about the rope dragging or tangling. This targets coordination as well as balance and endurance.
Weighted jump ropes have weights in the handles rather than in the ropes themselves. The increased weight gives your upper body a more intense muscle workout along with getting your heart rate up. Your shoulders, biceps and triceps have to work harder, but your abs will tighten to support them, giving you a more effective full-body workout.
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.