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So, you’ve bought the best jump rope for your body, and you’ve figured out how to twirl it around without slicing off your toes or decapitating yourself. You walk outside into the fresh air, ready to start your journey in the world of jump rope exercise.

Then, like Nic Cage in Adaptation, you begin to wonder if you should eat the muffin pre-workout to give you energy, or save it as a post-workout treat. Maybe the muffin doesn’t even fit your macros? You are absolutely paralysed with worry that you may be doing something suboptimal.

You stop in the middle of your carefully prepared jump rope routine. Is jumping rope to lose weight beneficial, you ask yourself. 

Let’s find out.

How Many Calories Does Jumping Rope Burn?

We all know the importance of cardio exercise for its beneficial effect on weight loss and heart health. Whether or not we actually do the workouts may be another story…

One tactic to help ensure compliance is to make these sessions short and fun. A 2021 Harvard Health Study1 documented the caloric expenditures of different exercises across three different weight classes. Each calorie number in the chart represents the total calories burned in 30 minutes. FYI, Harvard is that school across the river from Boston. Not MIT. The other one.

Calories Burned in 30-Minute Activities

Activity125-lb Person155-lb Person185-lb Person
Reading (seated)34 calories40 calories47 calories
Walking107 calories133 calories159 calories
Running (12 minute mile)240 calories288 calories336 calories
Jumping rope (fast)340 calories421 calories503 calories
Running (6 minute mile)453 calories562 calories671 calories

If you can drop 5 miles on a 30-minute run, you’re probably not doing it to cut some inches off your waist. 

Also note that if you read the entire “Twilight” series, you can burn the same number of calories as you would jumping rope for a few minutes each day. I know what team I’m on!

Many of us may remember the benchmark that 3,500 calories burned equals one pound of body fat lost. While this may be outdated and an oversimplification2, it may still be useful as a ballpark number for data driven types who thrive on meticulous tracking.

If that’s you, don’t worry. Another perfectly acceptable use of the scientific method is to just look in the mirror every few weeks to check for change. If you like what you see, keep doing what you’re doing! Working out doesn’t have to feel like high school algebra.

If jumping rope continuously for 30 minutes is too difficult for where you are at, you can break it up into 5- or 10-minute workouts and still keep the calorie burning rate where you want it. Keep slowly pushing the time up, and you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make.

Two people jumping rope

Factors That Affect How Many Calories Jumping Rope Burns

“If less is more, just think how much more more will be.”

-Frasier Crane

We all know if calories out are greater than calories in, we get to lose weight (yay!), but the calories out part of the equation can get incredibly complicated (boo!). Factors such as lean body mass, insulin sensitivity, metabolism, age, stress, and sleep are all a part of the fat loss story.

Did you notice we didn’t even get to exercise or diet yet?

That isn’t to say that skipping rope isn’t an effective tool for managing body weight; as we saw above, it can be among the most efficient exercise selections we can make for calorie burning purposes.

Besides the internal factors above, three main aspects of a workout will dictate how many calories you burn:

Duration

How long will you work out for? If you reread Chapter 4 of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” three times you will burn three times the calories as reading it once. In other words, the longer you exercise, the more calories you burn.

Intensity

This is how hard you go. Pushing your heart rate to its upper limits requires more energy than keeping it at 60%. This is like reading “The Dubliners.” (Look, Harvard’s study isn’t clear about this, but you have to burn more calories with Joyce the same way you burn more running fast than running slow).

RELATED: Jumping Rope Vs Running

Frequency

This is how often you do it. The same jump rope workout done three times a week requires more work than jumping rope once a week. This is probably why Winston Churchill, noted fitness nut, read every single night.

Remember, if you do the same thing over and over again, you will stop seeing an effect. That one cup of coffee may have done the trick when you were 19, but now you measure your intake in pots rather than cups.

Jump Rope Workout For Weight Loss

Short HIIT workouts can be really effective for burning fat3. These workouts here are designed to spike your heart rate for periods and keep it elevated in between bursts. It is designed for trainees with a moderate aerobic base (not absolute beginners).

Make sure you do a 5- to 10-minute warm-up to help prevent injury and prime your body for the intense work. A weighted rope will help with the high-speed rope jumping segments, as well as give the upper body a little bit more work to do.

You will need a timer or a clock for this.

Beginner Jump Rope Workout

Beginner jump rope workout for weight loss

10 Rounds:

  • Jump rope as fast as possible for 20 seconds
  • Jump rope at a moderate pace for 20 seconds
  • March in place with high knees and swingin’ arms for 20 seconds

Full-Body Jump Rope Workout for Weight Loss

This next one is for people with a more advanced fitness level and a little bit of space. It works great if you have two jump ropes you can run between, and even better if you have a workout buddy you can race and talk trash to.

Full-body jump rope workout

20 Minutes, as many rounds as possible: 

  • Start with your jump rope stretched out in a line. This is the starting line.
  • Sprint 100 feet (or 50 feet out and 50 feet back if you only have one jump rope)
  • Do 4 burpee lateral jumps over the rope
  • Jump rope for 100 jumps

If you go hard, this really isn’t fun.

Other Key Benefits of Jumping Rope

Due to the necessary coordination between the upper body and lower body, the jump rope provides a full-body workout without really trying. This makes it a wonderful tool for getting blood flowing before, during, or after an intense workout.

Because the jump rope is so mobile, you can work out with it practically anywhere! Adding in bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, pullups, and planks can deliver a succinct and effective full-body workout wherever you are. Once you progress, you can even switch to double unders to get an even more intense workout.

Most CPTs agree that skipping rope is not a high-impact workout. This can make the jump rope a particularly effective tool for anyone with grumpy joints who needs to find a way to challenge themselves with cardio workouts.

Low recovery demands mean you can probably jump rope every day with no adverse effects. In fact, this is often encouraged as a way of teaching you to increase physical activity and ingrain positive habits. Jumping rope can even act as a form of active recovery itself!

RELATED: Benefits of Jumping Rope

Jumping Rope to Lose Weight FAQs

How much should I jump rope a day to lose weight?

It is important to establish weight loss goals for yourself and base your workout routine around them. Optimal efficiency changes with your fitness level and acuity for the task at hand. Usually, your fitness routine needs to fit around your job schedule, and the time you have available is dictated not by your need to lose body fat, but by your commute and work hours. Few people have the stones to change jobs in order to meet their health needs (it’s only your life after all!).

Keep the amount of time you spend jumping rope short at first, and build from there. You want to milk everything out of your workout so you have somewhere to progress to without getting burned out. You don’t want to play all your cards at once and stall out, so leave a few reps in the tank. So many metaphors!

Can jumping rope make you lose belly fat?

Most personal trainers will caution that you cannot spot-reduce fat on your body. However, jumping rope can burn fat from your body if it helps you expend more calories during your day than the number of calories you take in. All physical activity burns calories, and a jump rope session is a highly effective way to burn calories quickly! 

Is 10 minutes of jump rope enough to lose weight?

For the untrained person, it definitely can be. Stimulus builds over time, and while you may see weight loss for weeks, or even months, with 10 minutes, eventually a new stimulus will be needed. That may be increased activity levels during the day outside of the jump rope workouts, or increased duration, intensity, or frequency added to the exercise routine. Remember, no matter what, losing weight requires being in a calorie deficit. The paradox of exercise is that the better you get at something, the less of a fat loss result you will see from doing that exact thing.

Doing a 10-minute HIIT jump rope workout will kick your butt if you’ve never done it. You won’t want to go any longer than that.

References

  1. Harvard Health Publishing, Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Different Weights, Harvard Medical School, March 8, 2021, health.harvard.edu
  1. Hall KD, Sacks G, Chandramohan D, Chow CC, Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, Swinburn BA. Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight. Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):826-37. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60812-X. PMID: 21872751; PMCID: PMC3880593.
  2. Viana RB, Naves JPA, Coswig VS, de Lira CAB, Steele J, Fisher JP, Gentil P. Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Br J Sports Med. 2019 May;53(10):655-664. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099928. Epub 2019 Feb 14. PMID: 30765340.

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