Let's be honest: You're not alone if you find yourself at the gym and wishing there was a quick fix. After all, finding the time to squeeze it all in can be tough — which is why jumping rope is basically the cardio workout you've been waiting for.
Jumping rope not only uses the muscles in your lower body, but it also recruits your arms and core.
But what exactly are the benefits of picking up a jump rope? And is it true that jumping rope slims your thighs?
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Jumping Rope for Spot Reduction
Let's talk about whether or not jumping rope can specifically work to tone your thighs. The short answer is pretty straight forward — no. In fact, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), spot reduction or targeting "trouble areas" simply doesn't work.
"The concept of spot reduction follows the false belief that training a specific muscle will result in fat loss in that area of the body," health and fitness expert Chris McGrath wrote on the ACE blog.
McGrath continued: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you want to burn more fat and 'sculpt' more muscle, increase your fitness level. This can be accomplished through a comprehensive strength and cardio program that doesn't take any more time than other workouts."
Read more: The Best Leg Exercises for Muscle Definition
Which is where an activity like jumping rope definitely fits the bill, right? While jumping rope might not specifically target your thighs, it is a total body workout that can lead to overall body toning and improved cardiovascular endurance. In fact, ACE noted that jumping rope is not only an efficient way to get your heart pumping and improve cognitive function, but it can also strengthen your calf muscles and improve the "surrounding tendons and fascia."
Jumping rope — and other "dynamic impact exercises like hopping — has even been dubbed "positive stress" for people who are dealing with osteoporosis and other bone density issues, according to a 2013 New York Times article.
Is Jumping Rope Effective Exercise?
Spot reduction aside, picking up a jump rope is easily one of the best ways to get your heart pumping. The best part? It doesn't require fancy equipment to work up a sweat. All you need is a jump rope and some stamina, and you're good to go.
An effective jump rope workout also doesn't require a ton of time. In a March 2013 study of 92 male college students in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, researchers found participants who jumped rope for 10 minutes a day for six weeks saw the same improvement in cardiovascular health as those who jogged for 30 minutes a day over the same length of time. That's huge when you consider how much easier it is to squeeze in a 10-minute workout during a busy day.
If you're wondering what that means in terms of calories, here's the deal: A 155-lb person will burn approximately 372 calories per 30 minutes of jumping rope, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
How to Jump Rope
Jumping rope is a bit like riding a bike, in that your body will quickly remember how to begin skipping even if the last time you tried it was in grade school.
But if you want to up the ante, you can try adding single leg jumps or split leg jumps. You might even try using a jump rope as part of a HIIT workout where you cycle through high intensity and recovery intervals to work up a sweat.
Read more: How to Do a HIIT Workout at Home
The proof of HIIT benefits is in the research, so to speak. During a February 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers compared interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training and found that while both methods of exercise reduced overall body fat percentage, interval training provided a nearly 30 percent greater reduction in total absolute fat mass.
- Shape America: "Comparison of Rope Skipping and Jogging as Methods of Improving Cardiovascular Efficiency of College Men"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- ACE Fitness: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- Ace Fitness: "7 Benefits of Jumping Rope"
- New York Times: "Building Up Bones, With a Little Bashing"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "Is Interval Training the Magic Bullet for Fat Loss?"