Elliptical Machine Vs Jumping Rope: Risks, Calories,…

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It’s clear that exercising can offer many health benefits. There are however a lot of options, how do the elliptical machine and jumping rope compare?

The health benefits of a good workout range from weight loss to longevity and a lot in between. Using the elliptical machine and jumping rope are popular cardio workouts that can offer you these benefits.

If you are very injury-sensitive, the elliptical machine might be the better choice. When you are injured the amount of exercise you can do goes down drastically.

Using the elliptical machine at high resistances will also help you engage muscles over your entire body to a larger extent.

On the other hand, jumping rope is generally easier to fit into your routine.

Jumping rope statistics also imply that it has more potential for calorie burning in a shorter amount of time and this exercise only requires a small investment.

In the end, you want to weigh the factors in this article against each other for your personal situation. Make sure you don’t forget that enjoying either the elliptical machine or jumping rope more can really help you stay consistent.

The elliptical machine vs jumping rope summary

DetailElliptical MachineJumping Rope
Calories Burned*330+ calories293-439+ calories
Muscles EngagedMostly Legs, Upper Body A BitMostly Legs, Upper Body A Tiny Bit
Injury RiskLowMedium
Busy Schedule FriendlyAlrightVery Great
Budget RequiredMediumVery Low
Complexity To DoEasyEasy/Medium
*Approximation for a 155-pound person doing the exercise for 30 minutes

The elliptical machine vs jumping rope for calorie burning

The main difference most people care about when comparing the elliptical machine vs jumping rope is how many calories each exercise burns.

The first thing you have to know is that it is hard to make accurate predictions when it comes to calorie burning during workouts. These numbers vary a lot from person to person.

Things like age, weight, activity levels, key hormone levels, and a lot more influence the actual amounts.

Another factor that makes these calorie-burning estimations less precise is that doing a workout at high intensity can also cause something called “afterburn”.

This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.

Another question is, what determines how many calories you can maximally burn with a specific exercise? For cardio workouts, this usually comes down to the capacity of your lungs and heart.

This should come down to similar amounts for using an elliptical machine vs jumping rope during the workout itself.

That being said, there are still methods available to estimate the number of calories burned with both of the workouts. The below charts are estimations for individuals doing each workout for 30 minutes (1).

If you compare the elliptical machine vs jumping rope the estimations would say that jumping rope is better when it comes to maximum calorie burning in the least amount of time. How intense you do each exercise matters a lot.

Calories burned with the elliptical machine

For the elliptical machine, there are less precise estimations available for different speeds or resistances.

Because of that, the below table is for different time intervals instead of different resistances like the jumping rope table later in the article.

If you want to learn how to burn more calories while using the elliptical machine make sure you read the article on how many calories the elliptical burns.

Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds (56 kg)9 calories133 calories266 calories399 calories532 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)11 calories165 calories330 calories494 calories659 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)13 calories197 calories393 calories590 calories787 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)15 calories229 calories457 calories686 calories914 calories
Chart of calories burned with general elliptical trainer usage

Calories burned with jumping rope

If you want more in-depth estimations and techniques to burn more calories while jumping rope make sure you read the article on how many calories jumping rope burns.

Weight Person
Slow Rope JumpingGeneral Moderate Tempo Rope JumpingFast Rope Jumping
125 Pounds (56 kg)236 calories295 calories354 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)293 calories366 calories439 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)350 calories437 calories524 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)406 calories508 calories610 calories
Chart of calories burned per 30 minutes of jumping rope at different intensities

The elliptical machine or jumping rope for fat loss

Some people get the impression that to burn fat you have to stay at a certain heart rate, eat certain foods, or do specific workouts.

Unfortunately, targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. To burn fat, or more specifically belly fat, you have to lose weight overall.

Since jumping rope seems to have more calorie-burning potential it would also be slightly better for fat loss than the elliptical machine.

The elliptical machine vs jumping rope for building muscle

While using the elliptical machine and jumping rope are both cardio exercises, which means that they mainly focus on your cardiovascular system, they also help you engage muscles in multiple areas.

The other health benefits of the elliptical machine and jumping rope are great but engaging your muscles can offer some helpful effects.

Some of these include slowing down degradation, making the muscles healthier, and improving muscle endurance.

The elliptical machine mostly focuses on your leg muscles. Additionally, you get some upper body muscle engagement training. To what extent depends on how you use the machine.

While jumping rope also requires a few upper body muscles to work, this activity will mostly engage leg muscles like your calves, quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.

If you want to engage your muscles as much as possible, using the elliptical machine at high resistances will likely be the better choice.

That being said, people who really want to grow and strengthen their muscles a lot likely want to go for weight lifting exercises like squats.

Comparison of injury risk

Another important thing you need to look at in the elliptical machine vs jumping rope comparison is the injury risk with each of these workouts. An injury can reduce the amount of time you can exercise to 0 in the worst case.

Consistency is an important factor when improving your health. Doing one big workout is often not as effective as three medium ones.

That means that a workout with a smaller injury risk may burn fewer calories today but more in the long term by avoiding periods of injury in which you do no exercise at all.

Jumping rope is generally worse than the elliptical machine in this category. Jumping rope, even at a low tempo, can be risky if you are injury sensitive. This workout puts a relatively high amount of pressure on body parts like your knees and back.

Using the elliptical machine is a relatively low injury risk workout.

If you have bad knees and a lot of pounds to lose, you most likely shouldn’t go straight to jumping rope.

In a situation like that, using the elliptical machine, or other workout alternatives to jumping rope are likely better choices.

So in terms of injury risk, the elliptical machine is way better than jumping rope. Not everyone is as sensitive to injuries so whether this factor is important depends on your personal situation.

Ease of implementation in your routine

As mentioned before, the workout that doesn’t get done doesn’t offer any benefits. How easy an exercise is to implement into your daily or weekly routine is very important.

To use an elliptical machine, you obviously need an actual elliptical machine, either at home or the gym.

For most people that means driving at least 20 minutes to their local gym. Once there you have to change your clothes and you can start your workout.

For jumping rope basically all you need is a good jumping rope and a few spare minutes.

You can get a good workout in a short amount of time with both the elliptical machine and jumping rope.

All in all jumping rope is easier to implement in a daily or weekly routine for most people compared to using the elliptical machine, especially if you don’t have your own elliptical machine.

The budget required for each workout

Money put into improving your health is generally a great investment but sometimes you can get the same effects with less. Depending on your situation this may be relevant.

For using the elliptical you need a machine. Prices for equipment like this vary a lot but are usually hundreds of dollars. Many people do their elliptical workout in the gym, in that case, a gym membership would be needed.

Jumping rope almost doesn’t require any budget at all. A quality jumping rope is not expensive at all and you don’t even need a good pair of shoes.

Jumping rope is definitely more budget-friendly than using an elliptical machine. That being said using the elliptical machine can be inexpensive to do too.

Complexity to use an elliptical machine vs jumping rope

Some machines and workouts almost require a university degree before you can use them optimally. For example, some kettlebell workouts or something like dancing can be slightly more complicated to get started with.

When trying to stick to an exercise routine you want as few reasons as possible to not work out.

The difference between using the elliptical machine and jumping rope in terms of complexity to do is not super relevant. Using the elliptical may feel slightly more uneasy at first but there isn’t really any complex technique involved. Jumping rope at a higher intensity may require some practice but likely not that much.

Which one is right for you?

Whether using the elliptical machine or jumping rope is the best choice for you depends on your personal situation.

If you are injury sensitive using the elliptical is likely the better workout option.

Using the elliptical machine at high resistances will also be more helpful if you’re looking to engage muscles over your entire body during your cardio workout.

That being said you shouldn’t expect too much/any extra muscle mass from it.

If you want to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest amount of time and you are not injury sensitive jumping rope is likely a good elliptical machine alternative. Jumping rope is also easier to fit into a busy routine.

You also preferably want to like doing your workout. If you don’t, it becomes harder to stick to. The exercise that doesn’t get done doesn’t offer any health benefits.

Ultimately you want to weigh each of these factors versus each other for each workout and your individual situation. You can then decide which one suits you best.

To get a better idea about what option you like the most, you can give both the elliptical machine and jumping rope a try.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.