Skipping, or rope jumping, is the most fantastic exercise and skipping for fitness is one of the most effective things you can do. But do you do it?

Skipping is perceived in such extreme ways. Initially it is something you might associate with children (probably girls) in the playground. Then there is the huge perception leap to burly boxers sweating away in the gym and those iconic training scenes in the Rocky movie!

But between the rather twee childish game and the grinding intensity of the boxing gym, there is a huge space where most of us reside – people who want to keep fit, be in good shape, burn fat and be energised…

And skipping is something we can all benefit from!

I know it was certainly my go-to exercise when I was on Gladiators!

Skipping is the great allrounder when it comes to exercise. It is fantastic for cardiovascular conditioning strengthening legs, ankles and shoulders, coordination and a great deal of calorie burning.

It also works on an aerobic basis, if performed for extended periods and, when in short, sharp, intense bursts, it becomes a really effective anaerobic exercise. And then there are the ‘tricks’; the double unders and triple unders and the high knee on-the-spot sprints – again I refer you to the Rocky movie! These add whole new dimensions and variations to skipping and are something we can all aspire to and work towards.

All of this improves stamina, strength, speed, mobility and coordination. And all with a single rope!


Not only does it require nothing more than a single piece of inexpensive equipment that can be easily carried in a handbag or sports bag, it doesn’t need a special environment or much space. Indoors and outdoors are equally good and as long as you have enough clearance above your head and a good arm span width, you are good to go!

And skipping ropes don’t really wear out or breakdown either!

Muscular man skipping rope. Portrait of muscular young man exercising with jumping rope on black background

Is it difficult?

It is absolutely true that those boxers, and even schoolgirls, can make even the most elaborate skipping moves look as easy as jogging on the spot, but the reality might be rather different when we try for the first time.

But don’t despair!

It is something you can master and once you have, you will have a superb training skill for years. Like anything, you need to persist and work at it and, much like riding a bike, all those wobbles, stumbles and falls, suddenly give way to genuine aptitude and a degree of mastery. I promise! 

So let’s start by looking at what you need…

Your skipping rope

As previously mentioned, this is one of the greatest, if not the very best, value for money piece of exercise equipment you will ever buy.

Of course there are countless skipping ropes out there and a variety of prices, but around $12 should get you a perfectly good product that will serve you for years.

The key factor when choosing your rope is the length that is right for you.

What is the right length?

There is a method called the armpit test that is very general and can be looked up, but a decent guide is as follows:

Going by height of user:

4ft10-5ft3 – 8ft rope

5ft4-5ft11 – 9ft rope

6ft-6ft6 – 10ft rope

And for the relatively few people above that, an 11ft rope is fine.

If you do have a rope that seems to be too long, you can always tie knots in it to shorten.

In Part 2 I will talk you through actual skipping techniques and variations which will truly send you on your way to skipping for fitness!

Connect here with WatchFit Expert Diane Youdale

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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