When you participate in long bouts of cardiovascular exercise activities, such as jumping rope, and your body begins to run out of fuel, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol facilitates the metabolic breakdown of both carbohydrates and protein so that they can be used as fuel.
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That protein comes from your lean muscle tissue, according to exercise physiologist Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. Know how much you can jump rope so you don't lose muscle.
You can lose muscle when you jump rope. It is such a high-intensity exercise that it demands more fuel, and that can come partly from the breakdown of muscle.
Jumping Into Wellness
A jump rope workout offers numerous health and athletic benefits. It elevates your heart rate, developing your cardiovascular system. It can be used as an effective high-intensity interval training exercise to burns the same amount of calories that steady-state exercises burn in a shorter period of time.
It is a high-quality workout activity for those looking to lose body fat, because it's very effective at burning calories. However, jumping rope can be detrimental to your muscle mass, because the increased demand for fuel partly comes from the breakdown of muscle.
Read more: How Much Should I Jump Rope a Day?
Watching Out for Muscle Loss
Losing muscle occurs for a couple of reasons, including de-training, which is when you stop lifting weights or exercising at the same frequency and intensity that you were, according to the American Council on Exercise.
In addition, your body breaks down muscle tissue whenever it is not able to provide your organs and tissues with the amount of fuel they require. When you burn more calories than you consume over a period, your body doesn't have enough energy available and so it seeks out fuel by breaking down stored body fat.
This is why exercise is recommended for those looking to lose weight, as exercise activities like jumping rope increase the total number of calories burned and thus contribute to the caloric deficit needed for fat loss.
However, during this period when your body is seeking fuel, cortisol levels increase, which not only assists in breaking down fat, but also breaks down your lean muscle to convert amino acids for fuel.
Burning Off Calories
Jumping rope is among the most effective calorie-burning exercises. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person burns about 744 calories for every 60 minutes of jumping rope, while a 185-pound person burns about 888. At this rate, a 185-pound person can lose nearly a pound of body fat every three and a half sessions.
However, those concerned about losing muscle mass should limit their jump rope sessions because the increased number of burned calories leads to an increased need to utilize other energy sources beyond body fat.
Refueling for Muscle Maintenance
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, you can prevent how much muscle breakdown occurs during your jump rope workouts by participating in a practice called "carbohydrate loading." For a short period after your jump rope workouts, your body will be better able to absorb nutrients, which will assist the protein synthesis needed for muscle maintenance and building.
- University of New Mexico: "The Role of Cortisol in Concurrent Training"
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: "Carbohydrate Loading"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- American Council on Exercise: "Reversing Reversibility: How to Help Clients Get Back on Track"