Why skipping should be your new favourite workout: tips and benefits for physical and mental health
Want to boost your cardiovascular health, increase your muscle and bone strength and produce more serotonin and dopamine? Better get skipping - but first, check out our guide.
When it comes to exercise, there aren’t many workouts that are held in higher regard than skipping. Whether you are skipping for weight loss, stronger muscles, cardiovascular fitness, or simply for fun, the benefits are undeniable.
Despite being invented by the Egyptians, skipping still remains one of the most high-intensity forms of training available. It has a low impact on the body, and gymgoers, boxers, and even celebrities swear by the exercise.
Its popularity doesn’t seem to have wavered in hundreds of years, but what is the reason for skipping's success, and why do millions continue to practise it? To help answer all your questions and queries surrounding skipping, The Recommended has compiled a comprehensive guide to your new favourite workout.
Five benefits of skipping
As you might already be able to tell, we’re fond of skipping, we’ve even written a guide to the best skipping ropes and interviewed jump rope champions, but it's not just us. Celebs including Justin Bieber, Kevin Hart, and Katy Perry have all said they use skipping in their workout routines.
If you look around your local gym, you’ll also be able to see countless people jumping up and down, swinging a rope over their heads. So, why is the exercise loved by so many? Well, it’s mainly because of its physical and mental benefits.
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Skipping is a great tool for those wanting to lose weight, and increase cardiovascular health, overall fitness, muscle strength, coordination, and discipline. Coupled with its mental benefits and the fact they only cost a few quid, skipping is the full package.
Here’s a quick overview of some of our favourite skipping benefits:
1. Cardiovascular benefits
Although it sounds technical, cardiovascular fitness or cardiovascular health (CVF) is just the rate at which the heart can deliver oxygen to your muscles and organs. A high level of CVF is essential to remaining healthy, and a low rate of CVF correlates directly with many health problems.
Top personal training and fitness author, Mike Matthews, told Nike that skipping helps increase levels of cardiovascular fitness because it is a high-intensity workout that raises your heart rate. When your heart rate is raised, this then makes your heart work harder to increase the blood flow throughout your body. This strengthens the heart and means that, even when not exercising, your body is enjoying more oxygen. A strong heart muscle also lowers the risk of heart disease.
2. Muscle and bone strength
Thanu Jey, DC, clinic director at Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic in Toronto, told Healthline that, when done right (see tips at the bottom of the page), skipping is a low-impact exercise. This means it puts less stress on the joints than other activities, like running. Skipping is also good for building muscle and engages several muscle types - the legs, arms, and core.
Over a period of time, skipping can help to build strength in these areas. It is also a weight-bearing exercise so helps to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
3. Weight loss
According to the online calorie calculator Omni, you can burn an average of 200-300 calories for every 15-20 minute session of skipping. Being a high-intensity workout means you need less time to burn energy (calories), which can help you on a weight loss journey. However, to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit, so you should skip alongside reviewing your daily calories.
4. Mental health benefits
Mental health charity Mind explains that skipping is great for both physical and mental health. Like most exercises, skipping helps the brain to produce more serotonin and dopamine, and these brain chemicals help to regulate mood and alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Straight after a skipping workout, endorphins will also be released, these are natural anti-stress chemicals. Endorphins have a similar effect to dopamine and serotonin and help with an overall feeling of wellness.
5. Increases coordination and balance
Top personal trainer and Pilates instructor Stephanie Mansour recently told Nike that skipping increases coordination, as your hands, feet, and eyes have to work in tandem to help continuously jump over the rope. Skipping is also great for balance, as each time you jump up, your body needs re-establish stability. This helps increase your balance as you continuously work to make yourself steady in between jumps.
How to skip: a step-by-step guide for skipping beginners
Skipping sounds simple, but anyone who’s given it a go knows there’s a lot more to it than just jumping over a rope. How high do you jump? How do you perfect arm movement? What about the rhythm? If it’s your first time skipping or you just need a recap, follow the steps below.
- Start with your legs between hip and shoulder width apart and begin jumping up and down in the same spot. This step is best performed without a rope to get the jumping movement nailed before adding the rope. The jump should be about 1-2 inches off of the ground, no higher.
- Next comes the arm movement. This should be done without a rope again. Put your arms next to your sides, in line with your hips, and circle your hands at a 45-degree angle. The movement should come from the wrists, the whole arm should not be rotating.
- Once you’ve got used to the wrist movements, you can start adding in a jump. Try to get a feel for when the rope will be close to your feet depending on the speed of your wrists, just before this is when you jump.
- Once you’re comfortable with the jump and hand movements at the same time, you can practice trying to jump at regular intervals.
- Now pick up your rope and use the skills learned in the previous steps to give skipping a go.
- It’s important to remember that your wrists should be doing the work, and your jump should only be 1-2 inches off the floor.
- If the rhythm is becoming difficult and you find the rope is hitting your legs too often, add in an extra hop between rotations.
- When you are beginning, it is important to try not to become frustrated. With time the rhythm will get easier.
Skipping is an intensive workout, so if you become tired, don’t become put off. With time you can start increasing your skipping workouts, even if it's just by a few seconds each day or a few times a week.
Our favourite skipping ropes
Here's a quick rundown of our favourite skipping ropes. If you want to know more about these ropes and what to look for and avoid when buying a jump rope, check out our full skipping rope guide, with recommendations from skipping experts, including 31-time Grand World Jump Rope Champion Tori Boggs.
- MoKo Beaded Rope, Amazon, £11.99: Fully adjustable in length, this set of two 110-inch beaded ropes from MoKo is a great option for families.
- Dope Rope 2.0, Dope Rope, £19.99: Dope Ropes’ signature beaded jump rope comes recommended by two of our experts, who say its 1-inch beads provide great feedback for beginners learning new skills and tricks.
- TORQ Ropes Current, TORQ, £18.49: This PVC rope is a great choice for anyone graduating from a beaded rope and wanting to pick up speed and advance their skills.
- Alfya Skipping Rope, Amazon, £19.99: This rope is minimal in its design, with a PVC cord and plastic handles, and is adjustable in size.
- EliteSRS Boxer Jump Rope 3.0, Amazon, £34: 5mm PVC ropes such as this one from EliteSRS provide great feedback and are easy to whip around your body, which helps to time jumps correctly when performing tricks.
- Beast Gear Speed Skipping Rope, Amazon, £17.99: If you’re an experienced jumper looking for a decent fast rope, then this one from Best Gear is a solid choice and has an adjustable 3-metre-long aluminium cable.
- Gritin Skipping Rope, Amazon, £7.99: This skipping rope from Gritin has anti-slip soft memory foam handles, is adjustable in length and features a tangle-free PVC-coated steel cable.
Six skipping variations for a more challenging workout
Once you’ve cracked the basics, it’s time to start adding to your skipping workouts. There are many tricks you can learn and tweaks that can change your normal workout. If you’re starting to find that skipping is becoming too easy, too repetitive, or want to look more of a pro, try some of the variations below.
- One-leg jumps: This is an easy way to add some variation to your skipping workout. They are pretty self-explanatory and involve hopping on one leg rather than two whilst you skip. These will help increase your balance and the strength of each leg.
- Alternating leg jumps: For after you have mastered one-leg jumps. You often see boxers using this technique, and it involves changing the leg you are jumping off every jump. Simply, it is a differing one-leg jump per swing.
- Double jumps: These are helpful in increasing how challenging your skipping workout is. To do a double jump, you should increase the speed of your swing and make the rope go under your feet twice whilst you are still in the air. You may have to jump higher than usual, and it is very hard to do multiple in a row, so try to ease yourself in.
- High knees: This a good exercise for beginners who want to take a step up and become more skilled in their skipping. For this exercise, you should raise your legs high in the air and alternate your legs at the same time. The foot that is not on the ground should be raised, aim for your knee to be at a right angle with your hips.
- Run skips: It needs a bit more space as you have to run and jump simultaneously. You need to start a jog and, at the same time, begin swinging and jumping over the rope. To perform in smaller areas, you could do it in a circle or even just jog on the spot whilst skipping.
- Crossovers: One of the most popular ways to make skipping more challenging. You can perform a crossover when the rope is coming down above your head, and you cross your arms in front of you. You can then jump through the loop you have created by your arms crossing.
Want more guidance and tips on well-being and fitness? Check out our wellness and fitness sections, with guides including yoga vs pilates, posture tips, and the best multi-gym equipment for working out at home.
Finn Byrne is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media. He works across several brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeforMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. Finn has previously written for publications including MyLondon, The Mirror, The Express, and The Star. When not writing Finn enjoys spending time on the football pitch and getting stuck into a book.