Jumping Jacks & Jump Rope as Workouts

Young man standing with a skipping rope around his neck
Jumping rope burns a significant amount of calories. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Some of the simplest exercises are also some of the most effective. Jumping jacks and jumping rope are ideal exercises to get your heart rate up, burn calories and help you stay in shape. Both exercises are aerobic in nature and use your body weight for resistance. You can incorporate jumping jacks and jumping rope into your workout to supplement other exercises, or you can perform them alone for an effective cardiovascular workout.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks require your entire body to move, which raises your heart rate in a relatively short time. Raising your arms above your head and spreading your legs outward engages your major muscles groups, as well as your core, which helps to stabilize and balance your body. The pace of your jumping jacks determines the intensity of your workout. Naturally, a fast pace means a high heart rate and an increase in muscle engagement. More important, though, is your rhythm. Your upper body should move in synch with your lower body, and your breathing must be in tune with your movements.

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope requires quick reflexes, good timing and coordination. It develops all of these skills, which can help you improve athletically. Jumping rope is also an effective aerobic activity that burns up to 744 calories in a 155-pound person after 60 minutes. The exercise engages your entire body but targets the calves and core muscles especially. Jumping rope also works the forearm and shoulders intensely as well since these are the muscles used to hold and turn the rope. The quads are involved as well since your knees work as shock absorbers for each jump. Your aim when jumping rope should be to create a steady, uninterrupted rhythm of jumping for several minutes at a time. If you increase the pace of your jumps, adapt your breathing pattern as well.

Complementary Exercises

Jumping jacks and jumping rope are exercises you can incorporate into aerobic or anaerobic workouts. These activities are ideal for warming up your muscles before engaging in more vigorous physical exercise such as sprinting, swimming, weightlifting or sports. They also are good complementary exercises you can integrate into circuit training workouts. Doing jumping jacks or jumping rope between anaerobic exercises helps to keep your heart rate elevated, which optimizes the circuit-training objectives to increase muscle strength and develop cardiovascular endurance. The two exercises are ideal in that they do not require a lot of space to perform or large equipment such as a treadmill or elliptical trainer.

Basic 10-Minute Workout

You can develop a personal workout that consists solely of jumping jacks and jumping rope. The movements are simple and can be performed by nearly anyone, which makes them good if you are a fitness beginner. The key to a basic but effective workout is to do the exercises at an intensity level that challenges you. This means you must perform them at a pace and for a certain amount of time that improves your cardiovascular fitness. If you're a beginner, start by jumping rope for two minutes. Then, perform jumping jacks for one minute. Now, jump rope again for two minutes with alternating knee lifts, and follow that with two minutes of jumping jacks. Finish the workout with two minutes of rope jumping, jumping on one leg for five hops, then switching to the other leg for five hops. Finish with one minute of jumping jacks.

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