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Does Jumping Rope Burn Fat Better Than Running?

author image Kevin Rail
I am very genuine and magnetic on camera, and have made numerous videos on my own for clients and other organizations that I'm affiliated with. I also have a degree in Sport Management, and multiple certifications to back up my validity. I've also been featured in three different exercise infomercials and had a speaking role in a National Lampoons movie.
Does Jumping Rope Burn Fat Better Than Running?
Does Jumping Rope Burn Fat Better Than Running? Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Exercise, especially high-impact cardiovascular exercise, can help burn fat. This is important to your overall well-being as excess fat leads to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.Plus, losing fat helps you look toned and fit.

But, it can be hard to pinpoint which forms of cardio are your fastest route to lean. Two-common types of cardio, jumping rope and running, burn major calories, which can help reduce your body fat. Which one is superior when it comes to fat burning depends on a number of variables.

How Does the Body Burn Fat?

When you consume more calories than your body needs to operate, you store it as fat. So, to burn fat, you need to increase your calorie burn so your body dips into those fat stores to fuel your activity.

Based on 60 minutes of exercise, a 155-pound person burns 744 calories jumping rope. How many calories your burn during running depends on your speed. The same 155-pound person burns 596 calories running at 5 mph or 744 calories running at 6 mph.

Intensity Matters

At face value, it seems running is superior to jumping rope, but that's misleading. Intensity needs to be taken into consideration. For example, a 180-pound person burns 980 calories jumping rope at a fast pace for 60 minutes.

This same size person burns about 815 calories running at 6 mph for 60 minutes. Simply put, if you jump rope at a fast pace, and run at a slow pace, you will burn more calories jumping rope -- which can translate into fat loss. With both forms of exercise, people who are bigger will burn more calories simply because it takes more effort to run their engines.

Plus, if you've ever tried to jump rope for an hour or even 30 straight minutes, you know that's not really an interesting or feasible way to spend your time. Running is more likely something you can do for extended workouts of 30 to 60 minutes.

Muscles Worked

When you jump rope, you experience only moderate joint activity. Your wrists and ankles get most of the work, and your elbows and shoulders get a slight bit of involvement. This leads to a small amount of muscle recruitment. The calves get most of the work, and the shoulders get a slight bit of work.

Running, however, forces you to work multiple joints throughout your body, such as your ankles, knees, hips, elbows and shoulders. When you use a lot of joints, you also recruit a lot of muscles. Even though running is a form of cardio, you still build some muscle because you have to move the weight of your body.

When you build muscle, you increase your resting metabolism. A single pound of muscle gained will burn an extra 30 to 50 calories a day, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Building a pound of muscle with cardio is no easy task, but you'll most likely experience it sooner with running.


Another difference between running and jumping rope takes place in the environment. When you run outside, you are constantly subjected to uneven terrain and hills. This can make you work harder and produce a higher caloric expenditure.

Even while running on a treadmill, you can increase the incline, which increases your intensity. When you jump rope, the only options you have are jumping faster or using a weighted rope. But the fact still remains that you are hopping up and down with a small range of motion.

Diet and HIIT

Regardless if you jump rope or run, you need to take a personal interest in your diet. If you eat more calories than you lose through exercise, you will not burn any fat. This is the case no matter what form you choose or how hard you work out. The most important thing is to reduce your calories and follow a healthy diet.

And, steady-state cardio workouts are less effective in burning fat than interval-style sessions. A paper published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Obesity showed that short bursts of very high-intensity intervals, where you alternate all-out effort for 10 to 30 seconds with short periods of rest, kick start fat-burning mechanisms in your body.

Jumping rope might be a more effective way to perform HIIT; you can take the rope anywhere and move in limited space. You might intersperse the short periods of jumping rope with strength-training moves to further develop muscle, too. If you have access to a track or treadmill, you can use running for a HIIT workout, too.

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