With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Sunday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in January 2019.
When you think about boxers’ workouts — when you mentally run through all the real life preparation they put in before a fight, as well as all the cinematic training montages you can remember — one exercise probably comes most readily to mind: jumping rope.
Boxers, from bare-knuckle brawlers like John L. Sullivan to modern champs like Manny Pacquiao, have indeed made jumping rope a big part of their training regimens throughout the long history of the sweet science. And with good reason: the benefits of this exercise abound.
If you’re not planning on climbing into a ring anytime soon, you probably don’t think of jump roping very often; to get in your cardio or HIIT workouts, you’re more likely to mount some machine at the gym. Maybe that’s because you associate jumping rope with elementary school, think you’re too clumsy to do it effectively, remember it being overly monotonous, or feel like it’s too high impact an exercise for your older or heavier body.
Today we’ll show you how those objections can be overcome, and why you ought to train like a fighter by incorporating the jump rope into your workout routine.
The Benefits of Jumping Rope
Jumping rope builds your fitness, athletic skills, and even your mindset in ways few other exercises can match. When you look at the list of benefits below, it’s easy to see why boxers are particularly keen on this form of training, but these are advantages the average guy surely wants to develop as well:
Serves as a whole body workout that incorporates all the muscle groupsWorks the body’s anaerobic and aerobic systems and efficiently burns caloriesBuilds speed and quicknessDevelops overall balance, coordination, timing, and rhythmIntensifies power and explosivenessIncreases reaction time and reflexesGets an athlete comfortable with being in the “readiness position” — on the balls of the feetEnhances agility and nimbleness — lightness on the feetOffers practice in moving through all planes of space — up, down, backward, forward, and side-to-sideEnhances ability to accelerate and decelerate while keeping one’s balanceDevelops body control and awarenessCultivates greater ability to synchronize the lower and upper bodyIncreases hand-eye coordinationStrengthens mental discipline and mindfulness (in calling upon one’s powers of concentration)
Beyond these physiological benefits, jumping rope is a super cheap and portable exercise — you can do it almost anywhere — and incredibly versatile to boot; with hundreds of variations in techniques, patterns, and progressions, it’s a workout you can keep perennially fresh.
How to Choose a Jump Rope
The first step in getting into jumping rope is to choose a rope to use. There are two big considerations in making this decision:
Jack Dempsey shared his old school DIY method of making a boxer’s jump rope in his book, Championship Fighting: “you can make a rope by soaking a piece of clothesline overnight in a can of light lubricating oil. Hang up the rope and let it dry for a day. Then, fold the ends of the rope back and tape them into ‘handles’ with bicycle tape.”
There are many different types of jump ropes made from different kinds of materials. The main categories here are “speed ropes” and “heavy ropes.” Speed ropes are lightweight, made for fast turning, and, as the name implies, built for speed. Heavy ropes are weighted in the rope and/or handles, turn more slowly, and are designed to strengthen the upper body.
Your best bet is to go with a speed rope. As Olympic wrestler and