The rugger’s guide to jump rope training

With much of the world on COVID-19 lockdown, ruggers are desperately searching for ways to maintain their fitness so that, when quarantine is finally lifted, they’ll be match fit and ready to go when the first whistle of the new season finally blows.

Depending on where you live, you may still be able to go out for a run but, as the longer this lasts, the more likely it is that outdoor exercise will be banned. Some countries have made this decision already.

Even if you can go out for a run, it may not be the smartest thing to do, especially if you live in a densely populated city. The sensible choice could mean you voluntarily confine yourself to your home.

But how can you stay in shape if you don’t leave your house? Bodyweight circuits can help, and if you’ve got things like adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, or kettlebells, you should have no problem maintaining your endurance and strength. But what can you do for cardio?

Jumping rope is a good choice for home-based ruggers.

Jump rope benefits and advantages

Jumping rope has a lot of benefits – both for ruggers and home exercisers in general. Those benefits include:

1. Jump ropes are cheap, easy to find, and hardwearing. For $20.00 or less, you can buy a PVC speed rope that will last you for years and deliver a great workout. Even a cheap treadmill can cost upward of $1000.

2. You can jump rope indoors or outdoors and at just about any time you like. No need to wait for the gym to reopen and no need to risk coronavirus contamination by going outside to run.

3. Jumping rope is an effective calorie burner. Boxers use it to help them make weight before a fight. It’ll help ward off lock in-related weight gain.

4. As a weight-bearing activity, jumping rope will strengthen your bones as well as your leg muscles, heart, and lungs. This can reduce your risk of suffering osteoporosis.

5. Once you have mastered the basics, you can do lots of cool jump rope tricks you can use to make your workouts fun and varied.

6. Jumping rope develops eye/hand/foot coordination, so it’s an especially useful workout for ruggers. It also promotes better ground reactivity, speed, and agility.

7. Although it looks like a lower-body exercise, jumping rope is actually a full-body workout. You’ll soon feel your shoulders, arms, and upper back working along with your legs.

Of course. Not all forms of exercise are suitable for everybody’s body. There are a couple of jump rope disadvantages you should be aware of…

Jump rope disadvantages and challenges

1. As a high impact activity, jump roping can be hard on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. This means that heavier exercisers may find jumping rope uncomfortable. You can mitigate this problem by wearing supportive, shock-absorbing shoes for your jump rope workouts.

2. The skill of jump rope can take a while to develop; it’s not as instant a workout as hopping on an elliptical trainer or going for a jog. That said, with practice, most people can learn to do some basic jump rope exercises.

3. You’ll need plenty of space to jump rope, in front, behind and above. A fast-turning tope rope can be quite destructive, so keep anything fragile out of the way and especially look out for low-hanging light fixtures.



Getting started jumping rope

A good jump rope workout starts with the rope itself and making sure it’s the correct length for you. If your rope is too long, it’ll drag on the floor and won’t spin as freely. It’ll slow you down and make your workout less demanding.

If your rope is too short, it will keep catching on your feet as it passes beneath you. All those trips will make whatever exercise you are doing very frustrating less enjoyable. But, if your rope id the correct length, it’ll spin smoothly, and you won’t trip as often.

The quickest and easiest way to check your rope is the right size is to place one foot on the center of your rope and hold a handle in each hand. Pull the handles up; they should just reach your armpits.

If your rope is too long, simply tie a knot or two in the rope to shorten it. Make sure you tie the knots below the handles and not above, or you’ll interfere with how the rope spins. If the rope is too short, discard it and get another one because it will cause you nothing but grief!

If your rope is a good quality adjustable model, simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions and shorten or lengthen it accordingly. Feel free to make further minor adjustments after subsequent workouts to get your rope’s length absolutely perfect. It’s also fine to trim off any excess and unwanted length away but, be careful to do this only when you are absolutely positive you have got your rope the right length.

Alternatively, if you have a tape measure handy, you can use the chart below to size your jump rope. At the very least, this gives you an idea of where you should be starting with your jump rope length. You may still need to fine-tune your rope length for optimum performance.

If you are using this chart to buy a rope, it’s always better to buy one that’s a little longer than you need. You can always shorten a rope that’s too long but may not be able to lengthen a rope that’s too short.

HeightCable Length

Getting your jump rope length right means you’ll get much more out of your workouts as you’ll trip less often and be able to jump faster and more smoothly. Take time to get this aspect right, and you’ll enjoy your workouts even more.

20-1-20 PROGRAM


How to jump rope

Jumping rope is a skill, and skills take time to master. Start off using this basic two-footed jump technique and then move on to more advanced jumps…

  1. With a handle in each hand, stand with your rope behind you and your feet together. Your hands should be around hip height.
  2. With a flick of your wrists, circle the rope up and over your head. As the rope approached your feet, jump up and over. Do not jump too high – aim to only just clear the rope, and it’s only a fraction of an inch thick.
  3. Keep the rope turning and repeat. Don’t worry if you trip – just reset your position and try again. Soon you’ll be doing ten, twenty, fifty, or even one hundred rope turns without tripping.
  4. Try to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed and just use your wrists to keep the rope turning.

Additional jump rope techniques

Once you have mastered basic jump rope, inject your workouts with some variety by adding these intermediate and advanced techniques.

Heel-toe action – instead of keeping your feet together use an alternating heel-toe action. This can be tricky at first, but once you get it, it will probably become your go-to skipping technique.

Jogging – jog on the spot in time with the rope. You can also add some traveling by jogging forward and backward.

High knee sprints – keeping your torso upright, lift your knees up in front of you, and pump your legs as fast as you can. This will increase your heart rate, and you’ll burn more calories too.

Double-unders – jump a little higher and spin the rope twice before landing. Don’t try and jump too high. Instead, focus on increasing rope speed.

Crossovers – cross your arms just before jumping over your rope and then uncross your arms as the rope passes under your feet. This not only looks cool, but it’s also an excellent way to ease aching shoulders during long bouts.

Jump rope workout programs

While you could just jump rope for ten minutes and call it a workout, there are better ways to use your rope and get fitter. Here are a few jump rope workouts:

Three-minute rounds – jump rope for three minutes, rest for one minute, and repeat. This is an excellent way to break up long jump rope workouts while replicating the fitness demands of a boxing match.

Pyramids do ten jump rope turns and then take a brief rest. Then do twenty and rest again. Keep adding ten more turns until you get up to one hundred. Then go back down doing ninety, eighty, seventy, and so on until you get back to ten. On completion, you’ll have done 1000 rope turns.

Tabata intervals jump rope as fast as you can for 20-seconds and then rest for 10-seconds. Repeat eight to ten times for a short but intense workout.

Reverse Tabatas – skip fast for 10 seconds, rest for 20 seconds. Repeat eight times. This workout works well with double-unders and high knee sprints.

Burpee and jump rope descending pyramid – do ten burpees and then jump rope 50 times. Do nine burpees and jump rope again 50 times. Keep doing one less burpee until you get all the way down to one. Make sure you jump rope as fast as you can as this workout is against the clock.

30/30 intervals jump rope for 30 seconds and then do a quick set of push-ups – 10 or so is fine. Jump back up and skip for a further 30 seconds and then do a quick set of bodyweight squats. Continue alternating using your speed rope with push-ups and squats for 15 to 20 minutes.

Jumping rope might be a low-tech workout, but for fitness and calorie burning at home, it’s hard to beat. Use a jump rope either alone or in conjunction with any other at-home exercises to maintain your fitness for rugby, even though you are on coronavirus lockdown.


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