Tuesday 10: Jump Rope Variations

One of the coolest things about body weight workouts is that there is no excuse not to do them. The equipment you need is right there… in you. On you. YOU! (See: Badass Burpee Variations and No Equipment Workouts.)

Jump rope workouts are next on that list of workouts that decimate excuses because all you need is a rope and a clear space, like a street or a yard or a porch or a gym floor or a tennis court.

If you’re a CrossFitter, chasing the elusive double-under can feel like you’re on a quest for the holy grail. And while I agree there is value in learning to do double-unders — and they will kick your butt in a way that not much else can — there are so many other ways to get your kicks with a jump rope. Here are some other fun foot patterns that will test your coordination and, potentially, your patience. (And if you want some pointers on double-unders, here’s my post on 7 Things I Know About Double-Unders.)

In case you’re a newbie to jump rope, here’s an excellent introductory video to teach you the basics of a jump rope hop. (From Punk Rope — what a fun idea!)

10 Jump Rope Variations

1. Wide Feet
Instead of keeping your feet together under your hips, soften your knees and take you feet into your squat width. have fun with that one, kids! It’s oddly demanding.

2. Skip, a.k.a. The Boxer
Instead of hopping with both feet together, you do that badass boxer shuffle from side to side. It’s the epitome of floating like a butterfly (M. Ali, you will always be the baddest of badasses.), if butterflies got out of breath floating. (See video below #3 for demo.)

3. Jog in Place / High Knees
Just like it sounds — only harder! Jog in place while spinning the rope beneath your feet. Once you have the pattern, you can make it more challenging by lifting your knees up high in the front and landing on your toes. (See video demo.)

4. Single-Foot Hops
Single-foot hops are great for strengthening each leg independently, and once you’ve got the knack, you can try fun patterns: three left, three right… five right, one left for 10 rounds, then switch… whatever it takes to keep you thinking and hopping.

5. Slalom
With your knees soft and feet together, hop side to side, like you’re skiing down a mountain. With your jump rope. ‘Cause you doesn’t ski with a jump rope?!

6. Front-and-Back
Similar to the Slalom, but instead of jumping side to side, you hop front to back, like a bunny that can’t make up his mind. And now gratuitous giant bunny (and yes, he’s real):

7. Jumping Jack
On alternating hops, jump your feet apart and together, apart and together.

8. Criss-Cross
Similar to the jumping jack, but when your feet come back together, cross one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it works the inner thigh like crazytown. Plus, it’s fun.

9. Alternating Feet
Take those single-foot hops from #4 above and alternate with each spin of the rope. It’s kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, but you’ll get it eventually.

10. Scissors Split
On each hop, shoot one foot back and one foot forward, kind of like a lunge. Then on your next hop, reverse your feet.

Turn it up to 11. Backwards
I’m not sure that spinning the rope backwards has a physical advantage, but it sure does feel like you’re doing something fancy, and that is totally awesome. This how-to video was inspiring because it’s clear that the dude is working hard — and he messes up just like the rest of us mortals do.

Jump Rope Workouts

Jump rope is perfect for intervals, so rather than striving for extended periods at cruising speed, think challenging work sessions with rest in between. Here a few examples, but you can make the segments whatever seems appealing to you:

10 rounds: 1:00 on / 1:00 off
6 rounds: 3:00 on / 1:00 off
10 rounds: 2:00 on / rest to full recovery
12 rounds: 1:00 on / :30 off

Or put together a foot pattern and repeat it for time, for example:
10:00 AMRAP

10 jumping jacks
10 single-foot hops, right
10 single-foot hops, left
10 slalom
10 front-and-back
10 scissor split
10 jog in place
10 wide
rest :30

More Jump Rope Fun

When I was searching for jump rope videos, I found this badass mashup of the Foo Fighters song “Rope” and the Black Eyed Peas “Rock That Body.” WOOT!

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  • jen says:

    wow, i just picked up my jump rope today and googled some workouts when lo, you posted! excellent telepathy, all the way to Spain! Thank you.

  • Cate B says:

    Dear Melissa,

    I LOVE the new Tuesday 10 posts. They have given a nice little boost to my day. And, I’ll be jumping rope like a wild lady after work today. Woooo hoooo!

    Fondest jump rope regards,


    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Cate! I have a lot of fun writing these. Definitely hit me with ideas if there’s something in particular you want me to 10-ize. Have fun jumping rope!

  • Casey says:

    This was so helpful! I assumed I “knew” how to jump rope, and that I was just awful at it (it’s actually the #1 reason I’m afraid of Crossfit, isn’t that crazy?), but watching that intro video I realize I’m just jumping all wrong. I can’t wait to try it the right way with the little bounces!

    • Mel says:

      That’s great news. YAY!

      Jumping rope can be so much fun once you the hang of it. I used to take boxing classes and jump rope (and heavy bag) were my favorite parts.

  • Mel says:

    Something amusing about me is that my “normal” way of jumping rope is apparently the ‘backwards’ way from everyone else! It just comes easier to me!

  • Jeanye says:

    We did several of these as a warm up before our Crossfit wod last week. Lots of fun!

  • Emily says:

    I just got a “real” jump rope (not my daughter’s from the dollar store) and am wondering if gratuitous cussing is normal when learning to jump rope? Wow, I must have been a sailor in a former life, and just jumping NORMALLY is kicking my tail! I am printing off these variations for the day that I show any measure of increased proficiency.

  • Maggie says:

    There was some serious magic in this blog post! I have been struggling with double unders (and, to be honest, struggling with singles) since I started Crossfit last year. After reading this and your previous post with double under tips, I got not just one but 18 doubles tonight! They weren’t consecutive, but it’s more in five minutes than I’ve done cumulatively in my entire life. Thank you! 🙂

  • Stompy says:

    I cannot jump rope if I think about what I’m doing. I’ll be going along all fine, then realize I’m jumping rope & smack myself right in the head. Also, double unders are the devil.

    • Mel says:

      HA! I do the same thing. If I concentrate too hard on what I’m doing, I totally lose the rhythm.

      And yes, double-unders are the devil’s work.

  • Tina says:

    Ohh, I am just getting ready to start with the exercising part of my new get healthy lifestyle. I have about 2 weeks of my Whole30 under my belt, and though I am still pretty tired (doing well with the 8-9 hours of sleep a night but still), I want to start turning the rest of my body from flabulous to fabulous :0)

    I might have to steal hubby’s jump rope today and give these a try.

    Now, what about hula hooping? We gave it a whirl last year and really got into it for a while and I think we might try it again this year.

    Got any cool info on hula hooping?

    • Mel says:

      I am the worst hula hooper EVER. Truly. I can’t do it at all. Sorry i can’t help you out with that!

      • Tina says:

        Hmm, I wonder if it could be that no one taught you the correct way to hula hoop. I had no idea there was a correct way to stand and such until we met a woman who was very into hula hooping (she actually had a hula hoop that she lit on fire and did some amazing stuff).

        Maybe I will see if I can write a post about it with some tips. I have heard that hula hooping is an awesome ab workout.