Ewen North, head coach and director of Revolution Running in Boulder, Colo., says a jump-rope routine will work many muscles at once. “You’re engaging your calves, quads and glutes,” he explains. “Jumping rope also works on increasing Achilles tendon and plantar fascia strength and elasticity, and improves foot tendon strength for the push-off phase of a stride.”
Jumping rope is also an exercise for the brain and the neuromuscular timing you need to run efficiently. You’ll improve your coordination and focus because you have to concentrate as your hands and eyes work together to clear the rope, North says.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Warm up with a 5-minute jog to engage the tendons and muscles you want to recruit.
Step 2: Using both hands, hold the handles of the jump rope behind you at waist level. Make sure there’s plenty of clearance above, in front and behind you.
Step 3: As you swing the rope over your head and hop over it with both feet, make sure your technique is quick and consistent, North says. Focus on bouncing off the balls of your feet in a quick rhythm. Build up to continuously jumping rope for 60 seconds.
Step 4: After completing the forward jump sequence, rotate your wrists and swing the rope in the opposite direction—a backward jump—and continuously jump rope in the same manner for 60 seconds.
Step 5: Finally, finish the routine by doing a forward jump for 60 seconds, but alternate bouncing off your left and right foot as you swing the rope forward.