What Muscles Does Jumping Rope Work?

Portrait of a young woman working out with a skipping rope

Jumping rope is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to target a wide range of muscle groups. While jumping rope, both the upper and lower body are engaged. It is an activity that not only boosts cardiovascular health, but also can affect bone strength, agility, coordination and overall endurance. Top athletes aren't the only ones who can benefit from jumping rope; it is a great way to start an everyday workout. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have health problems.

Lower Body Muscles

Almost all the leg muscles are worked out when you jump rope. Everything from the calves to hamstrings to tensor muscles in the thighs are used to jump and land during each rope revolution. The core muscles in the abs are also engaged, especially during jumping variations that require extra balance, such as a one-legged jump.

Upper Body Muscles

The upper body also gets worked out when you jump rope. When you swing the rope, muscles in both the shoulders and the arms are called into action, along with the wrists and hands. Back and chest muscles are also engaged, especially in jumping variations in which the arms cross over the body.

Of course, since jumping rope is an aerobic exercise, the cardiovascular system gets a good workout as heart and breathing rates increase.

Maximizing Jump Rope Workout

There's more to jumping rope than just the standard two-foot hop. One way to amp up the intensity of a workout is to add more difficult moves, such as incorporating a high step run or moving your landing position from left to right. Increasing the speed of each revolution of the rope can also help maximize a workout.

Another option for a jump rope workout is using a weight rope. Just as a normal rope (also called a speed rope) can be used to increase agility and coordination, a weighted rope can be used for building endurance in shoulder and back muscles. Weighted ropes can range from one to six pounds.

If jumping rope is meant as a warmup, then 10 minutes is ideal before moving on to the rest of the workout. If jumping rope is the main focus of your workout, duration should be 20 to 30 minutes of varied movements at varied intensities.

Athletic Benefit

Jumping rope is often linked specifically to boxers, but many other athletes can benefit from a good rope jumping workout. Athletes who use repetitive shoulder motions, such as volleyball players and softball and baseball pitchers, could especially benefit from weighted jump ropes. Athletes who play racket sports, such as tennis and racquetball, also can benefit from jumping rope as it strengthens grip and muscles around the elbows and wrists.

Jumping rope is also good for athletes who are rehabilitating injuries. It is a lower impact activity than running, but still promotes strengthening of muscles and ligaments.