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Jump Rope Vs Running: Which Is The Better Workout For You?

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Running and jumping rope are both considered excellent workouts.

But is one better than the other? Is jumping rope better than running? Is jump rope good cardio? What are the primary benefits of jumping rope vs running and vice-versa?

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of jumping rope and running and then compare the primary differences between a jump rope vs running workout to help you decide which is best for your fitness needs.

Ready?

Let’s jump in!

A person jumping rope.

Primary Differences Between Jump Rope vs Running

There is a fair amount of overlap in the benefits of running and jump roping for exercise, but there are also some unique benefits of each workout type that we will explore.

Let’s look at the primary similarities and differences between jump rope vs running workouts.

Jump Roping vs Running

In general, one of the benefits of jump roping and running is that neither form of exercise requires much in terms of exercise equipment. 

This makes both forms of exercise convenient, affordable, and accessible for most people from a financial standpoint.

That said, for jump roping, you need a decent jump rope (unless you just want to simulate jumping rope with a phantom jump rope).

The good news is that even the best jump ropes are generally quite affordable and should cost less than $30 or so unless you are looking for a weighted jump rope or smart jump rope, which may run up to $100.

For both running and jump roping, you will need proper footwear. Running requires high-quality running shoes, and jump roping can be performed in running shoes or cross-training shoes.

If you want to run indoors, you will need access to a treadmill

A person running on the road.

Rope Skipping vs Running: Cardio Workout

There is an abundance of research supporting the fact that getting enough cardio exercise regularly can reduce your risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and stroke, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

But, is jump rope good cardio exercise? Is jumping rope better than running for a cardio workout?

This question is not easy to answer because whether you get a better cardio workout with a jump rope vs running or vice versa really depends on your experience level and ability level with each activity as well as your interest, endurance, and effort level.

For example, if you are a trained distance runner and enjoy running long distances or can maintain a high-intensity run for a longer period of time than you could do a jumping rope workout, running will be better cardio than jumping rope.

On the other hand, if running hurts your knees, you find that you can’t run far without stopping or that you have to run so slowly that it’s difficult to elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time, but you love skipping rope, you will likely get a better cardio workout jumping rope vs running.

Ultimately, whether running or jumping rope is better cardio depends on which exercise you can perform for a longer period of time and which exercise elevates your heart rate higher during that sustained effort.

A person smiling and holding a jump rope.

Whether you do jumping rope workouts, running workouts, or a combination of both, you should aim to at least meet the guidelines for physical activity for adults set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the British Heart Foundation.

These state you are to accumulate either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week.

Jump Roping vs Running: Calories Burned

Let’s face it: many people are motivated to exercise to lose weight, so the number of calories you burn with a jump rope vs running can be an important factor to consider when deciding which workout you want to do.

So, which burns more calories, running or jumping rope?

The Compendium of Physical Activities reports that jumping rope at a fast pace (120-160 skips/min) is a whopping 12.3 METS. Jumping rope at a moderate pace (100-120 skips/min) is 11.8 METS, and jumping rope at a slow pace or less than 100 skips/min is still 8.8 METS.

Using these METs values, you can calculate the number of calories burned jumping rope based on your body weight using the equation to determine energy expenditure:

A person running.

Calories Burned Per Minute = METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 

For example, if you weigh 165 pounds (75 kg):

  • Vigorous jumping rope: 12.3 x 3.5 x 75 / 200 = 16 calories per minute or 160 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Moderate jumping rope: 11.8 x 3.5 x 75 / 200 = 15.5 calories per minute or 155 calories in 10 minutes.
  • Slow jumping rope: 8.8 x 3.5 x 75 / 200 = 11.5 calories per minute or 115 calories in 10 minutes.

Using the same source, here are the METS for running at different paces in the table below:

METSPace (mph)Pace (kph)
6.04 mph (15 min/mile) 6.4 kph
8.35 mph (12 min/mile) 8 kph
9.05.2 mph (11.5 min/mile) 8.37 kph
9.86 mph (10 min/mile) 9.66 kph
10.56.7 mph (9 min/mile) 10.78 kph
11.07 mph (8.5 min/mile)  11.27 kph
11.57.5 mph (8 min/mile) 12.1 kph
11.88 mph (7.5 min/mile)12.87 kph
12.38.6 mph (7 min/mile)  13.84 kph
12.89 mph (6.5 min/mile)  14.48 kph
14.510 mph (6 min/mile)  16.1 kph
16.011 mph (5.5 min/mile) 17.7 kph
19.012 mph (5 min/mile) 13.3 kph
19.813 mph (4.6 min/mile)20.92 kph

You can see that the calories burned running fast will be more than jumping rope, but you’ll burn more calories jumping rope vigorously than jogging slowly.

A person jumping rope.

Jump Rope vs Running: Muscles Worked

Although running and jumping rope both primarily work the muscles in your lower body, there are differences in the muscles worked rope skipping vs running.

Technically, running and jump roping are both full-body exercises. 

With jump roping, you swing the rope by rotating your wrists, and with running, you use your upper body to pump your arms for a more powerful and efficient stride. 

You can turn jump roping into more of an arm workout by using a weighted jump rope. This will increase the workload on your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles, as well as the muscles in your upper back and chest.

Both running and jump roping also use the core muscles, but the primary focus is on the lower body muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

In general, you will strengthen your leg muscles more effectively with running vs jump rope.

A person running at sunset.

This is because running is a unilateral exercise, so all of your body weight is supported on one leg at a time.

Although skipping rope involves hopping on one leg at a time, many jump rope workouts focus on bilateral rope jumping with both feet together. 

Because your legs are working in tandem, each leg only has to work half as much to support your body weight when you land jump roping vs running.

To this end, one reason that you will work more leg muscles running vs jump rope is that when you are performing a unilateral exercise such as running, your glutes, hips, and legs have to stabilize your pelvis in the frontal plane (side-to-side motion).

This better activates the hip abductors, adductors, and rotators in addition to the main leg muscles worked by jump roping and running.

Plus, many people run for longer distances than when doing a jump rope workout.

Two people jumping rope.

This increases muscle endurance more with running vs jump roping and ultimately makes running a more effective way to efficiently increase leg strength.

Moreover, if you are running outdoors and you run routes that have uphills and downhills, you will get to target different muscle groups with running workouts vs jump roping workouts, with the latter being less varied.

For example, when you run uphill, you work the posterior chain muscles such as your glutes, hamstrings, and calves more, and when you run downhill, the workload increases on the quadriceps.

Given the fact that there are unique benefits of running and jumping rope, adding both to your fitness routine is one of the best ways to add variety to your workouts, minimize the drawbacks of each form of exercise, and capitalize on the specialized running and jump roping benefits.

Keen to try to incorporate jump roping into your workout routine? Check out our 30-day jump rope challenge here.

A person running in the city.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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