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There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about jumping rope with weights, what are the pros, cons, and alternatives?
Jumping rope with weights can offer a few benefits over jumping rope regularly but it is not for everyone. Some workouts like strength training can help you get certain benefits to a larger extent than jumping rope with weights.
Not all external weights are equally useful and safe to use when jumping rope. Generally, weighted vests and weighted jump ropes are the safest ways to jump rope with extra weight.
This article will go over who can consider jumping rope with weights, what benefits you can expect from it, what different weights you can use, how to avoid injuries when jumping rope with weights, and what alternatives may be better for achieving your workout goals.
Should you jump rope with weights?
Before going into the benefits you have to know that jumping rope with weights can also have a few downsides.
One of the facts about jumping rope is that it can be hard on body parts like ankles, shins, knees, and back. Carrying weights while jumping rope increases the pressure on your body and thus the injury risk even more.
Not all types of weights that can be used during jumping rope are equal.
Some external weights like a good weighted vest and a weighted jump rope only increase pressure on the same muscles you already use in a “normal” ratio.
If you simply jump up and down without any extra tricks the same goes for ankle and wrist weights.
On the other hand, once you start doing jump rope tricks with ankle and wrist weights you will engage your muscles in a different ratio. For workouts like running and walking ankle weights can lead to a change in gait (1, 2).
You can likely expect something similar from jumping rope with ankle and wrist weights if you do a lot of tricks.
Some of the benefits of jumping rope with weights may not outweigh the downsides. Other workouts may also offer these extra benefits without the downsides.
If you are injury-sensitive, it may be smarter to not use extra external weights, and even do a different workout than jumping rope.
Benefits of jumping rope with weights
If your body can handle jumping rope with weights it can offer you some of the following benefits compared to regular jumping rope.
Helps you burn more calories
A big factor in how many calories you burn during a rope jumping session is your weight. To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more weight you carry, the more energy you need to fuel movement.
For example, a 155-pound (70 kg) person jumping rope for 30 minutes at a moderate pace burns around 366 calories.
On the other hand, a 185-pound (83 kg) person jumping rope for 30 minutes at a moderate pace burns around 437 calories.
There will likely be a difference in how much external weights increase calorie-burning vs the same weight in body fat but that just shows how jumping rope with weights can benefit calorie burning and in turn weight control.
Helps you engage your muscles more
One of the benefits of jumping rope is that even though it is mainly a cardio workout, it also helps you engage your muscles.
While you should not expect too much or any actual muscle growth, engaging your muscles can still offer benefits. Some of these include slowing down degradation, keeping the muscles healthier, and improving muscle endurance.
Generally the more weight you have to move, the more your muscles will have to work during a workout. That’s one of the reasons why people go to a gym instead of doing bodyweight exercises at home.
In turn, jumping rope with weights can help you engage your muscles more compared to jumping rope with just your body weight.
Can improve cardiovascular health
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.
Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. Jumping rope with weights makes your heart beat faster and thus helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system more.
Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements without extra external weights and build up from there.
Can improve athletic performance
Getting better at a certain sport or exercise isn’t necessarily done by doing these activities more. Cross-training which is training in a different sport can be useful.
Additionally, one study suggests that jump height in turn is related to sprint performance (10).
More importantly, good cardiovascular health is a big advantage in many sports.
All of these things combined make it so jumping rope with weights can improve your performance in a good number of sports.
Improves bone density
For many body parts, it is the case that challenging them can set processes that strengthen these body parts in motion.
The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them in safe amounts you make them stronger in the long term.
Jumping rope with weights puts more pressure on your bones than jumping rope without. This in turn will benefit your bone density in the long term (17).
Do keep in mind that overdoing it can have the opposite effects. Additionally, you need to give your body enough nutrients and rest to be able to repair the bones and make them stronger.
Different weights to jump with
Not all types of external weights are equally useful and safe for jumping rope. By making the right jump rope accessory choices you can avoid injuries and gain more benefits.
A weighted vest is simply a vest with some weight, often sand, added to it. You can wear a weighted vest while jumping rope to make your workout more challenging.
Generally, you want your weighted vest to be about 4-10% of your body weight. With certain vests you can also go outside of this range but that is not always recommended.
Jumping rope with a weighted vest is generally one of the better ways to jump with weights. This is because it only increases pressure on the same muscles you already use in a “normal” ratio.
Another equipment option to jump rope with extra weights is a weighted jump rope. Something that stands out in the weighted jump rope is that this extra external weight doesn’t put as much extra pressure on your ankles, shins, and, knees compared to other options.
At the same time, the weighted jump rope does engage your upper body muscles more.
So let’s say you think regular rope jumping is more than rough enough on your ankles, shins, and, knees already. In that case, a weighted jump rope may be a good option to make your rope jumping workout more intense.
Ankle weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your ankles. They can be used in many exercises including jumping rope to add some extra resistance to your training.
If you don’t do any jump rope tricks you get a similar experience from jumping rope with ankle weights as something like a weighted vest.
On the other hand, once you start doing jump rope tricks with ankle weights you will engage your muscles in a different ratio.
This can lead to muscular imbalances that in turn can lead to a change in gait that may not be optimal for your daily life or rope jumping performance.
Wrist weights are very similar to ankle weights but as the name implies you attach them to your wrists. Even though the placement is different, wrist weights may still lead to a change in gait although likely less than ankle weights.
By jumping rope with wrist weights you engage your arm muscles slightly more on top of the common potential benefits of jumping rope with weights.
Again basic rope jumping with good wrist weights may be fine but using these weights when doing tricks may not be a good idea.
How to avoid injuries
Another important point when jumping rope with weights is the injury risk involved. 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 jumping rope without weights may offer slightly fewer benefits today but more in the long term by avoiding periods of injury in which you do no exercise at all.
Especially if you are more of an exercise beginner you want to start with gentle jump rope sessions without any weights and build up from there. Many weight types allow you to change up the weight.
In that case, you can start with lower weights first, and if that goes well go up to higher weights.
If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that jumping rope with weights is not for you.
In general jumping rope with a weighted vest and jumping rope with a weighted jump rope will be the safest ways to jump rope with weights.
What is your goal with jumping rope with weights?
It may also be smart to consider what your goal is with jumping rope with weights.
If you are aiming for the benefits associated with more muscle mass implementing days with strength training exercises is likely a better option. You don’t necessarily have to get a gym subscription, just some bodyweight exercises can go a long way.
You may be interested in a more intense cardio workout. In that case, jumping rope at higher intensities may offer a similar effect.
Jumping rope with weights can improve your athletic performance but strength training may help you just as much or potentially more with this.
That being said, jumping rope with weights can be a fun way to make your jumping rope sessions more challenging.
If you don’t like jumping rope at high speeds but do want more intense workout sessions, jumping rope with weights may also be the solution.
Jumping rope with the right types of weights can certainly be beneficial for some groups of people. For others, it may be smarter to stick to regular rope jumping.
As long as you don’t cross your limits making an exercise more intense is usually beneficial for your long-term health. The challenge is being able to do this without injuries.
The message is rather safe than sorry. Especially if you are an injury-sensitive and/or inactive individual you may want to start with softer alternatives to jumping rope and build up slowly from there.