jump rope jumping jacks or both

Jump Rope, Jumping Jacks or Both: What Works Best?

Jump rope and jumping jacks are both very good forms of aerobic exercise that work the entire body. If you had to choose just one, though, jumping jacks would be it. Jumping jacks will burn more calories, be easier on your joints and improve your balance, coordination, speed, and agility better than jumping jacks.

Jump Rope vs. Jumping Jacks: Calories Burned & Muscles Worked

Jumping rope exercise is often associated with either school girls or boxers. You can’t be much more extreme than that. The reality is that it is an excellent form of full-body exercise that burns a ton of calories and boosts cardiovascular endurance while also strengthening your lower body muscles and improving balance and coordination. 


Jumping Jacks is another form of jumping exercise that raises your pulse and churns through the calories. It is more often used as a warm-up to more prolonged and intensive exercise. 

If you were to jump rope for an hour without a break, (good luck), you would burn about 750 calories. Doing the same length of workout with jumping jacks consumes about 550 calories. So, if we go by the numbers, rope skipping is a better calorie burner than doing jumping jacks.

For the majority of us, though, skipping for an hour non-stop is not realistic. If you are supremely fit you will be able to spend that hour doing a series of 2-minute skips interspersed with one-minute rest periods. That will work out to 40 minutes of skipping to burn 480 calories.

To compare apples with apples, let’s assume that you could also spend an hour doing 2-minute jumping jack spurts, with 60 second rest periods between them. That would also give you 40 minutes of actual exercise. In that time you will burn 366 calories.

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ActivityCalories burned hourMuscle Worked
Rope Jumping480Quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, core, arms, shoulders, wrists
Jumping Jacks336Quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes
jumping rope jumping jacks or both what works best muscles worked 1

Pros and Cons of Jump Rope

Burns 12-14 calories per minuteRequires a level of coordination
Low impact exerciseNeed to buy a skipping rope
Improves hand-eye coordination 
Promotes weight loss 
Activates core muscles 
Promotes lower body muscle strength 
Great for High-Intensity Interval Training 
Works upper body muscles 

Pros and Cons of Jumping Jacks

Strengthens leg musclesMore joint impact
Burns lots of caloriesEffective aerobic activity
No equipment neededNot sustainable for long periods
Elevates heart rate
Great warm-up exercise

Basic Jump Rope Form

When you are jumping with a rope you should put about three-quarters of your body weight on the forefoot. Make sure that your core is tight and your back in a neutral position. As the rope comes down, flick back with the toes as if you are pushing away from the floor.

As a result of this action, you will come off the floor a few inches to allow the rope to pass under you. Your knees should be bent just a little and you should land on the balls of the feet.

To swing the rope, simply rotate from the wrist. The arm movement should be minor. Jump with both feet together as the rope passes underneath. Try to establish a fluid, smooth motion with coordination between your hands and your feet.

What is A Good Jump Rope Cardio Workout?

Here is an awesome 15-minute workout jump rope cardio exercise routine that will burn calories like crazy. It includes non-rope moves to really engage your heart, muscles, and lungs in what is known as Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) training.

For the non-jump rope exercises, you will do as many reps as you can in 40 seconds and will then have exactly 20 seconds to recover before you go back to 60 seconds of rope jumping. Between minutes 7 and 8 you will get a whole minute to recover – make the most of it!

If you are unable to jump rope continuously for the allotted time period, simply collect yourself and start again. Over time you will be able to extend your continuous jumping time to intensity your fitness routine. 

  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds slow (Min 0-1)
  • Push Ups – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off (Min 1-2)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds medium pace (Min 2-3)
  • Air Squats – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off (Min 3-4)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds as fast as possible (Min 4-5)
  • Plank – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off (Min 5-6)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds slow (Min 6-7)
  • Rest – 60 seconds (Min 7-8)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds slow (Min 8-9)
  • Push Ups – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off (Min 9-10)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds medium pace (Min 10-11)
  • Air Squats – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off (Min 11-12)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds as fast as possible (Min 12-13)
  • Plank – 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off (Min 13-14)
  • Jump Rope – 60 seconds slow (Min 14-15)

Final Thoughts

When it comes to cardio exercises, jump roping and jumping jacking are both effective cardiovascular workouts. Both of these calorie-burning exercises can be done by people of all skill levels, though skipping does require a greater skill level.

Of the two, rope jumping will give you a better calorie burn to lose weight. It will also activate more muscles, and better enhance your balance, coordination, and foot speed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are basic jumping jacks better than skipping rope?

No, jumping jacks are not better than skipping rope. Rope jumping provides you with such extra benefits as improved coordination, hand-eye coordination, balance, and agility that you don’t get with jumping jacks. They are also easier on your joints than jumping jacks. However, both are effective exercise options.

Are jumping jacks as good as running?

Jumping jacks can be as good as running, depending on how fast or how slow you do then. Jumping jacks will get your heart rate up and burn quite a few calories. However, you won’t be able to keep doing jumping jacks for as long as you can run, so you will probably end up burning more calories from running. 

The best idea is to complement running with jumping jacks. Use them as a warm-up to your run and pump out 20 reps of jumping jacks every time you are forced to pause your run. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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