Jumping Rope Without a Jump Rope is Hard (and Good For You)

So there I was…doing double unders in my garage. I was trying to get in some long sets of over 100, but my rhythm and training effect was being hampered by an occasional missed rep that would derail my nice string. Then the more fatigued I got, the harder it was just to time the rope and my feet. My cardiovascular system was ready for more punishment, but the mechanics of the movement were hurting me.

Then I thought to myself, “What if I just did the same movement without the jump rope?” So I just jumped up and down and moved my hands as if I were jumping rope. My heart rate got just as high! I was wearing a Polar H10 heart rate monitor to verify. I tried this a few more times and got the same result. I have been doing this for the past month and it still rings true. Here is some evidence from today’s workout:

The first series of eight intervals are all 50 reps every minute, which means you do 50 reps and whatever time is left in the minute you can rest. Faster you finish your reps, the more rest you get. The “without rope” intervals are only a few beats per minute (BPM) less than the with a jump rope. Then I rested two minutes and did one minute of continuous reps with a jump rope, rested two more minutes, and did one minute without a jump rope. Got 163 BPM with a rope and 157 without the rope.

Lessons Learned & Application

  • Since you are not using a jump rope, you have to really jump as high as you would with a rope. Short, less intense jumps won’t equate to actual double unders.
  • Without the risk of missing reps, you can really increase the cadence of your jumps and get more reps in the same time. Without the fatigue on the shoulders which raises heart rate, increased rep frequency picks up the slack.
  • Jumping jacks don’t produce the same heart rates as ropeless double unders. The jumping isn’t as intense and even if I increased rep speed, I didn’t get heart rates as high – although you’d be surprised how much effect jumping jacks have on heart rate too.
  • This ropeless jumping rope technique is very useful for a few groups:
    • Those who can’t do double unders but who want to realize the benefits of the movement (lower body explosive power, cardiovascular endurance, and foot/ankle strengthening). This is a highly functional movement. I like to use it to break up boredom doing cardio (running or rowing). What I like about it most is how it conditions the lower legs and feet for running. If I don’t run for a while then run hard, my feet and calves feel it the next day. The energy output isn’t my problem, it’s just that I haven’t been doing a lot of jumping and landing on pavement. If I keep up with double unders, this doesn’t happen. Plus it teaches you to stay on your toes. There is no heel striking in double unders. Jumping rope is a great warm-up for running and for training runners.
    • Those who want to do higher rep sets but can’t keep the same mechanics when seriously fatigued. I really like doing long double unders only workouts like 500 reps for time, but at some point I start to miss reps and it gets annoying because I want to keep pushing. You could do some reps using a rope until it becomes prohibitive, then drop it and keep hammering.
    • Those with space or equipment limitations. My garage is a perfect example. A lot of times I leave one car in the garage and I have things hanging from the ceiling. There is a small space I can actually do a rep with a jump rope without hitting something.

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts below. You will look like a weirdo, but weirdos who smoke other people during PT are OK in my book.


  1. This is great info! I’ve often wondered what the difference would be jumping with rope vs rope-less.

    And I’m thinking when jumping rope-less you could hold some flashlights or little weights and continue the normal jumprope arm movements in order to still maintain the arm and shoulder benefit.

    If you increased your tempo, as mentioned, and held weights I would imagine rope-less jumping would outshine normal jumproping even further.

    • Louis, that is a good idea! I hadn’t thought of it, but you are right. Adding a little resistance to the hands would fire up the shoulders and forearms. Great call and thanks for the comment!

  2. This is a very interesting read! I’ve gone back and forth with jumping with and without a rope and I prefer to not use a rope. I find it more convenient that it can be done anywhere, there’s no occasional trip up, and it doesn’t bother my right wrist like a rope does. I like to incorporate it into circuit training with jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and step ups to break up the monotony.

    I think the biggest drawback to not using a rope is loss of skill. Though going rope-less mimics the movement, it’s not a complete carry over. The body will make adaptions for more efficient movements, like making smaller jumps and smaller hand motions. There’s also some loss of hand to foot co-ordinated timing. Like another comment mentioned, without holding something weighted then there’s also the loss of shoulder work. Taking that all in to consideration, it’s dependent of a persons end goal is. Is it to getter more skilled at jump rope or to have a more smoother workout with a little less effort and more reps?

    • William, it is a valid point to lose the skill of jumping rope unless you actually use a rope. I would answer your question by saying that unless you have a need for this particular skill (as in maybe a competition), then physical fitness always trumps skill. So if you can get the same physiological benefits without the actual jump rope or maybe even better ones, then the rope is not necessary. There is some utility in keeping to the skill itself for sure, but if it is hampering physical fitness improvements, it may not be worth it. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *