Why Do We Use Jump Ropes?

In our journey to perform check-ins with each and every single one of our members this month, a very common goal has sprung up:

“I want double unders” – Like 20+ Vegvisir Athletes

So this week I thought it would be helpful to go over all things Jump Rope related, starting with why we even use them!

When Did Jumping Rope Start?

Well there are 3 different answer and only one of them has a date so we will start there!

In 1600BC, the Egyptians were noted to have started the practice by using long vines that they had cut down and would use them to train their conditioning. Over in China, there was a New Year’s tradition kept by rope makers called  “Jumping 100 Threads” where they would jump rope to celebrate! It was also reported that Aboriginal people would skip vines and bamboo for fun!

The point is, we have been doing this forever for two reasons: fun and conditioning!

Why Do We Use The Jump Rope in CrossFit?

CrossFit training’s foundation focuses on improving 10 general physical skills: 

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – The ability of the body’s systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen
  2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy
  3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force
  4. Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint
  5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time
  6. Speed – The ability to minimize the cycle time of a repeated movement
  7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement
  8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another
  9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base
  10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity

Of those skills, the jump rope helps with 1,2,7, and 10 with 5 also squeaking in as you start your journey into double unders.

With the single under alone, if we give you 100 reps for time what would start to happen?

Your brain would first start by coordinating that you have to start spinning the rope, then jump just before the rope gets there, and stay in the air long enough for the rope to pass (coordination & accuracy). You then repeat that movement which increases your heart rate (endurance). After a while, your forearms, shoulders, and calves will all start to fatigue (Stamina). 

The same happens for a double under, but now your calves and forearms have to produce about twice as much power to accomplish the new task along with a heightened level of coordination! This is partially why getting double unders is so difficult!

How Much Should You Jump Rope To See Benefits? What About Improve?

Once we get past the “it depends on person to person” part of this post, there are some general rules that we follow at Vegvisir to ensure that you are getting a good amount of work to improve at the movement. 

  1. We program jump rope once a week in our workouts.
  2. The volume is kept around 300 reps expected with perform athletes hitting about 450 if they continue to stick on the single under track and 550 for our compete folks as this is the amount of volume currently seen in competition. 
  3. It is programmed in accessory as well every other week, especially if a WOD has a lower expected volume that week. 

If you were to make it to every jump rope workout we program starting from “I haven’t jumped rope since elementary school”, you would gradually see an improvement in your capacity until you could hit about 300 single unders without stopping (or the equivalent to riding the Echo Bike for 3:00 at about 65/60 RPM).

From there you hit the peak right before the most annoying learning valley of your life! (It took me about 6 months of pushing it off and 1 month of daily work to get through my Double Under Learning Valley). This valley is where you build up your coordination. This takes a little bit of accessory work after class to get through and everyone is able to learn it!

Then you start to build stronger calves, shoulders, and faster forearms which allow for you to apply that coordination for longer.

Once you hit 50 Double Unders, you have officially hit the “I made it” mark that is almost universally held by “Old School” CrossFitters!

Beyond that you then can build larger and larger sets by pushing yourself a little bit farther in each MetCon just by seeing how long you can hang on!

Then finally you climb the mountain of double unders and you can hit 300 unbroken reps. Not many CF Games athletes have this feat but, for some, it always helps to know where the mountain top lies! (I’ve seen one person hit 470 unbroken dubs for a free jump rope at Wodaplooza if ya wanna know that most that I’ve seen a CrossFit athlete do!)

To talk with a coach today, click the link found HERE to schedule your No Sweat Intro

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