Jump rope workout: a 20-minute routine that torches calories

Burn energy by doing this targeted jump rope workout training session

Woman doing a jump rope workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jump rope workouts are a highly underrated form of exercise. Requiring minimal equipment, they can burn up to 10 calories in 10 minutes, which puts jump rope in a league with running in terms of fat-burn - and thus makes it one of the best exercises for weight loss.

In fact, a 2013 study found that skipping (as it's also known) for 10 minutes daily over 6 weeks has the same cardiovascular benefits as jogging for 30 minutes a day for the same period.

However, unlike running, jump rope is considerably easier on your joints, as all you are doing is jumping on the spot.

“Skipping is an excellent cardiovascular workout and is comparable to running at 12km per hour when you consider the number of calories burned per minute,” says Lewis Paris, personal trainer at Gympass

“It targets the calves, thighs, glutes and shoulders, helping to keep these areas toned. As it’s low-impact, it also means it carries a smaller risk of injury than running.”

So if you’re thinking of picking up a jump rope and having a go at skipping, we have tips on how to get started as well as a number of workouts that are guaranteed to torch calories and give your entire body a thorough workout.

Jump rope workout: how to get started

Firstly, says Paris, you should set the correct length of rope that is right for your height. “Stand on the centre of the rope and lift the handles upward. The point where the handles meet the rope should be level with your armpits. Tie knots near the handles to make alterations to the length.”

Also ensure that you wear gym trainers (take a look at our pick of the best workout shoes) and jump on a soft surface where possible (a wooden floor would take preference over concrete).

Try to maintain good form while you jump rope, too. This includes standing tall but relaxed, breathing naturally. Your elbows should remain at waist level with your arms extended sideways at about 90 degrees. Hold the rope loosely, using your thumb and index finger for control, and you should aim to use a circular wrist motion to turn the rope.

Jump on the balls of your feet and try to land softly. Jump just high enough for the rope to pass under your feet; 60-70 turns per minute is a good starting pace, roughly one turn per second.

Jump rope workout: the moves

Born Barikor, personal trainer and Lucozade Sport ambassador, outlines how to do certain jump rope moves that will take your skipping to the next level. Jump rope workout

  • WARM-UP: BASIC JUMP ROPE

“This is the perfect way to warm up with before beginning a more intense skipping workout,” says Barikor. “Do this for 10 minutes to really feel the burn in your calves.”

How to do it: Start with the rope behind you, with plenty of space around you. Whip the rope round and jump up with both feet over the jump rope and land on both feet. Aim to keep your posture straight throughout.

  • HIGH KNEES

“As well as burning calories, this will enhance your coordination skills between your hands manoeuvring the skipping rope and your feet jumping over the rope.”

How to do it: Jump over the rope with one leg at a time, raising each leg to hip level as you jump from one leg to the other as fast as possible. Try to keep your core engaged throughout. Jump from foot to foot as quickly as possible to get your heart rate up.

  • SINGLE LEG JUMPS

“Another skipping move that requires focus and improves hand-to-foot coordination, as well as your balance. If done regularly, this will help to increase your fast twitch muscles.” 

How to do it: Skip for 5 seconds with one foot before moving to the other foot, then repeating. Ensure you wear supportive footwear when doing this move to avoid injury. Also ensure you warm up properly before doing this move as there will be pressure on one leg, especially around the knees, ankle and foot.

  • DOUBLE UNDERS

“To really burn the calories, try to let the rope pass under your feet twice between each jump.”

How to do it: For double-unders, you need to slow down and heighten your jumps and increase your turn speed with your wrists. Ensure your arms are relaxed with only your wrists moving the rope rather than your entire arms. Keep your eyes on a focal point and your feet nice and springy, then quickly whip the rope round twice for one jump.

  • CROSS OVERS

Master this and you’ll truly look like a pro boxer.

How to do it: Turn the rope as normal and as soon as it passes over your head, cross your arms as far across the front of your body as possible, jumping through the gap and over the rope.

Other moves comprising the workout below include jumping forward and back (bell jump), side to side like in a slalom (skier), rotating your body from the hips from side to side (twist), and jumping your feet apart then together (straddle).

  • Bell jump (jumping back and forth)
  • Skier (jumping side to side like in a slalom)
  • Twist (rotating your body from the hips from side to side)
  • Straddle (jumping your feet apart then together)

20-minute jump rope workout plan

Doing jump rope for 20 minutes will elevate your heart rate (the best fitness trackers  including some of the best Fitbit models will help you keep track of HR), in turn working the heart and lungs, improving fitness and burning calories. Each of the different moves focuses on a different area of the body, giving you an all-round workout.

Paris recommends this workout to torch calories in just 20 minutes, and the great thing is – as with all jump rope workouts – it can be done anytime, anywhere.

Begin by warming up. March on the spot for 30 seconds, bringing your knees up to hip level and swinging your arms. Gradually increase the speed of your march until you are jogging, and jog on the spot for one minute. 

Next, stretch the quads, hamstrings and calves, holding each for 30 seconds. Rotate the ankles, five times clockwise and anti-clockwise on each side, then circle the arms forwards and backwards 10 times.

Once you're thoroughly warmed up, it's time to throw yourself into the 20-minute jump rope workout detailed below!

  • Continuous skip - 2 mins
  • REST - 30 secs
  • Fast skip or double-unders - 30 secs
  • March - 30 secs
  • Skier - 1 min
  • REST - 30 secs
  • Fast skip or double-unders - 30  secs
  • March - 30 secs
  • Continuous skip - 3 mins
  • REST - 1  min
  • Bell jump - 1 min
  • Continuous skip - 1  min
  • High knees - 1 min
  • REST - 1 min
  • Straddle -1 min
  • Continuous skip - 1 min
  • Straddle -  1 min
  • REST - 1 min
  • Continuous skip - 1 min
  • Double-unders or crossovers - 1 min

When you're done, be sure to cool down. March on the spot for 30 seconds before stretching the quads, hamstrings and calves, holding each for 30 seconds.