How Good Is Jumping Rope as a Fat Burning Exercise?

Young Man and Woman Holding a Skipping Rope in a Park and a Portrait of a Young Woman Skipping

Jumping rope can be a valuable exercise addition to your weight loss arsenal. It may require more skill and timing than running, particularly when you first begin, but it requires far less space and can actually burn more calories than running in the same amount of time. Jumping rope is a full body exercise that can provide additional benefits such as improvements to your balance and coordination.

Jumping Rope and Running

Jumping rope requires you to balance on your toes, repeatedly produce force from your lower body, and maintain upright posture while maintaining timing and rhythm. The demands of jumping rope are similar to being able to run a mile in nine minutes. Both require constant motion generated primarily from the large muscles of your lower body, rely on the stretch reflex of your muscles and are primarily fueled by your aerobic energy system. Jumping rope requires less space, has a greater skill component and reinforces posture more than running.

Rebounding And Stretch Shortening Cycle

Your muscles allow you to produce force and move by contracting; this pulls on your bones, causing them to move around your joints. Your muscles are attached to the bones by tendons. Your muscles are elastic. When you land after a jump, the elastic parts of your muscles absorb the energy of your landing and briefly store it. If you jump again immediately after landing, the stored energy in your tendons will be converted into kinetic energy, providing power for your jump. These repeated powerful movements demand calories for energy that exceed other forms of aerobic exercise. According to the "U.S.Navy SEAL Guide to Fitness and Nutrition", rope jumping can burn between 700 and 900 calories per hours, depending on the number of jumps performed per minute.

It's All About the Energy

To reduce your body fat, you have to burn it as fuel for energy. Exercise scientist Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico explains that the bottom line for fat loss is expending more energy than you take in. Even though lower-intensity endurance exercise like walking uses a greater percentage of fat for fuel, higher intensity exercise like jumping rope or running burns a greater number of total calories, including more calories from fat, when exercising for the same amount of time. Because of the relatively high intensity and skill requirements of jumping rope, you may have to gradually build up to longer bouts to realize greater fat reduction.

Jumping Rope Variations

Your body will eventually adapt to any exercise. You have to progressively increase the exercise's level of overload to continue making gains, or to continue burning calories. Jumping rope has many variables you can manipulate to continue increasing the intensity. Like running, you can increase the duration and jump longer, or you can jump faster. However, unlike running, you can learn new skills and increase the intensity by performing more complex movements. Some examples include double jumps, crossing and uncrossing your arms, and sprinting in place.