Jumping rope is an effective cardiovascular workout and weight-loss exercise. Twirling the rope also benefits your upper body. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, or NSCA, jumping rope improves hand-eye coordination and is beneficial for athletes who use throwing motions and grasp light objects, such as rackets or clubs, for lengthy time periods.
Although your lower body provides most of the power for jumping rope, your upper body maintains the rope's movement. The exercise requires you to grasp a handle in each hand and rotate your wrists and shoulders to swing the rope from the front to the back of your body. Your arms control the speed of the rope, which sets the timing for your jumps. Some ropes are weighted or have heavy handles, which increases the workload on your upper body.
Jumping rope improves shoulder strength, and at least one study suggests jump rope training can improve the overhead strength of some athletes. In a study of volleyball players reported in the May 2010 issue of "The Journal of Sport Rehabilitation," researchers measured shoulder strength during movement exercises. Researchers concluded that jump rope training was beneficial for overhead athletes, such as volleyball players, because the exercise strengthened the athletes' shoulders.
The muscles in your arms maintain an isometric contraction when jumping rope. Grasping the handles creates tension in your forearms. This contraction remains until you release the rope. Even though you are not moving the muscles, the isometric contraction strengthens your forearms. When you keep your arms bent at an angle to swing the rope, the biceps contract to maintain your arm position. This static contraction strengthens your muscles in that position.
To improve the strength benefits for your upper body, add a variety of arms swings into your jump rope workout routine. Instead of simply twirling the rope forward, swing the rope backward. Also, hold both handles in one hand and swing the rope at your side for a stronger resistance on one arm. Swing the rope in a figure eight position in front or to the side of your body. Reverse the figure eight for equal training.