When you think of the quintessential “boxer,” you might envision someone with incredible athleticism, fitness, endurance, strength, power, and a toned body. Many boxers and professional fighters have some of the toughest and most grueling workout routines. An athlete’s workout regime is one of the things that can truly separate fighters during a boxing match. How do they get in such amazing shape? One of the main, and simplest, pieces of equipment they use, aside from the classic heavy bag, is the jump rope.
The history of jumping rope is inconclusive. Some experts claim the practice dates back centuries to ancient Egypt, while others argue it has its foundation in China. A more modern example has its history dating back to Europe, in particular, the Netherlands (think Double Dutch). One thing that we do know is that as long as there has been pugilism or boxing, there has been skipping, or jumping rope. From the modern father of heavyweights, John L. Sullivan, who reigned undefeated during the 1880s (he was a bare-knuckle boxer before gloves and rules existed), to Rocky Marciano (whom some say was the hardest training boxer ever), to Ali, Hagler, Mayweather, Jr., and the PacMan himself, they all utilized the jump rope to work on their footwork and get and keep themselves in fighting shape.
So how can you get in on this classic cardio training? In this article, we will explain why you should use a jump rope in your workout, and break down the different types of jump ropes that will help you get fighting fit!
Benefits of Jumping Rope
Before we get too carried away on the different types of rope, let's first dive into why exactly you should add skipping into your fitness routine. While the materials of a jump rope are basic–two handles and a rope–there's actually more to this piece of equipment than you may think. Here are a few health benefits of jumping rope:
Improves Balance and Coordination
Being a boxer constantly puts your body in uneven and awkward positions during training and fights. Having proper body control, coordination, and balance is crucial not only for boxing but also for everyday life movements. Jumping rope is a great way to improve your balance and coordination, enhancing overall general motor skill function.
Reduces Risk of Hypertension, Obesity, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease
A sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to health and longevity and has been linked to everything from developing hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Enhanced cardiovascular fitness greatly reduces this risk. A 2019 study showed that skipping rope for 10-20 minutes a day significantly increased both VO2 Max and an individual's Functional Movement Screening (FMS) test results, both of which have a positive influence on overall cardiovascular fitness.
Improves Athletic Performance
One of the best reasons to start boxing and jumping rope is the overall improved athletic performance this training can have on fitness metrics such as cardiovascular endurance, agility, speed, muscular strength, flexibility, and body composition.
Another reason that jumping rope is beneficial is that you can get a high caloric burn in a short amount of time. There are many different factors that can ultimately affect how many calories an individual burns during a workout, but some studies estimate you can burn 200-300 calories in just 10-20 minutes.
Overall, jump ropes are affordable, lightweight, and easy to pack. Jump rope training can be fairly low-impact and has numerous health benefits. These are some of the main reasons why boxers love incorporating jumping rope into their routines and why you should add it to yours too.
Types of Jump Ropes
Choosing the right jump rope comes down to your experience, training goals, and budget. Here is a look at the three (3) most common types of jump ropes.
Standard Fitness Jump Rope
Standard fitness jump ropes are the most basic type of jump rope that you can find at any sporting goods store or online. These are great options for beginners or those looking for an affordable option. Usually, these ropes will vary in material. The most popular materials are nylon, leather, PVC, or beaded. They maintain their shape while spinning, so it is easier for beginners to establish rhythm and get the hang of it.
Image Credit: FightCamp Jump Rope
Image Credit: DEGOL Skipping Rope
Weighted Jump Rope
Ready to take your fitness workout and jump rope session to the next level? Then consider investing in a weighted jump rope. Adding weight to the classic jump rope maximizes the health benefits. A weighted rope can get you shredded and toned even faster, adding extra burn to your shoulders, core, legs, and lungs.
Note: Weighted jump ropes are generally thicker in diameter than your standard fitness jump ropes, so they may not always be the best ropes for beginners. We recommend starting with the standard rope to get the rhythm and timing down, then graduating to a weighted rope.
Image Credit: CrossRope
Image Credit: Gaoykai Weighted Jump Rope
The final type of jump rope, and the one to choose once you have mastered the basics, is the speed rope. These are the ropes that you see your favorite athletes using at the CrossFit Games. They are designed for one purpose and one purpose only: speed. They are lighter, slimmer, more aerodynamic, and are usually made out of steel wire or cable. These are the best ropes for mastering your double-unders, power output, and explosiveness.
Note: Speed ropes are made of the slimmest types of rope material, enabling them to swing around faster. They are generally more expensive, but are often durable and made of higher quality materials. Be careful when using speed ropes, though! The high-speed velocity steel cable, regardless of how slim and lightweight it is, never feels good whacking against your calves or the back of your head.
Image Credit: Rogue Fitness
Image Credit: WOD Nation
Key Pointers When Choosing Your Jump Rope
Select an appropriate length rope for your body height
Stand on the middle of the jump rope with your feet together
The handles should come to armpit height
If you are just starting out, you may want to get a rope that’s a little longer until you can master the technique and rhythm–too short of a rope may lead to tripping
Select the appropriate weight/type of jump rope for you
Different types of jump ropes are for different types of goals; select the most appropriate for your training style and experience level
General Jump Rope Form Check
For proper form, keep your elbows tucked into your sides
Perform small circles, utilizing your wrists to rotate the rope–not full arm circles
Once you have mastered the rhythm, focus on small hops to clear the rope, ideally less than 1-inch clearance off the ground
While jumping, keep a slight bend in your knees to minimize impact
Make sure to jump and land on the balls of your feet
There you have it, a quick overview of the jump rope. Whether you're a beginner, have some experience under your belt, or are looking to improve your boxing footwork so you can float around the ring like a butterfly, there is a jump rope for you.
Not sure where to begin? Check out this 7-minute YouTube video of FightCamp’s Co-Founder and Trainer Tommy Duquette as he walks you through how to jump rope like a pro boxer. Then head on over to the FightCamp website and app to find the latest in boxing and kickboxing workouts, tutorials, equipment, and everything you need to JUMP start your fitness journey today!