There is arguably no piece of training equipment more versatile than a jump rope. Don’t believe me? Try to think of another training tool that’s simultaneously associated with grade-school girls singing songs in pigtails and professional fighters who we judge harshly on their ability to masterfully wield one.
Most of the flashy, highlight-reel jump-rope routines involve speed ropes, but what about weighted jump ropes? Are the benefits reaped by the two training devices identical? The answers are “yes,” “no” and “it depends.” Adding weight to the jump rope places significantly more demands on the total musculature of the upper body and lower body to force the rope through its rotations, resulting in a slower execution of rotations and less opportunity to execute the fancy drills that require blinding speed and precise timing, but also fostering greater development of upper-body endurance. Therefore, if you prioritize rapid total body conditioning over the ability to rapidly rack up the rope rotations, a weighted jump rope might be the ideal tool for you.
Learning the Ropes
Now that you’ve decided to give weighted jump ropes a whirl, what features should you be prioritizing in your pursuit of the ideal rope-jumping instrument?
1) An Appropriate Rope Weight for Your Size. There’s no need to bite off more than you can chew. It’s okay to start small and work your way up to a more manageable weight, so make sure your body can sustain at least 10 minutes of jumping at the lower rope weights for several days before elevating the weight, if the objective is to use the rope as a pure fat-burning tool.
2) An Appropriate Rope Weight for Your Goals. Training with a weighted rope means that you’re prioritizing muscle conditioning, but the jump rope remains, at its core, a cardiovascular training apparatus. Jumping with a weighted rope exposes your muscles to a specific type of physical strain, but it certainly isn’t going to build muscles for you on the level of resistance-training methods that are specifically designed to train your muscles for hypertrophy.
3) A rope with Solid Construction. Jump ropes are among the few training devices that you’re intended to whack against an object that has zero give to its surface — specifically the floor, or the ground. Eventually, the rope is going to yield during those exchanges, and will eventually lose some of its structural integrity. Ideally, you want a rope that’s going to hold up as it potentially smacks the ground thousands of times per day, day after day.
Now onto the best weighted jump ropes to help you whip yourself into shape regardless of your current physical fitness level.
Best Weighted One-Pound Speed Rope: WOD Nation Weighted Jump Rope
What It Will Do for You: The WOD Nation Weighted Jump Rope will enable you to work with an ordinary skipping rope while swinging a heavy handle weight. You’ll still be able to execute all of the speed drills that are performable with a standard skipping rope, but you’ll have to work a little harder to do so.
What It Won’t Do for You: It won’t operate like what’s commonly accepted as a weighted jump rope, where the bulk of the weight is contained along the full length of the rope.
Who It’s Really For: It isn’t a weighted jump rope in the traditional sense, but it will provide some of the same muscle-challenging benefits. If you want to challenge your muscles a bit more while still maintaining the option to rapidly adjust your skipping speed and execute timing drills, this is the rope for you.
Best Weighted One-Pound Rope: N1 Fit Weighted Jump Rope
What It Will Do for You: The N1 Fit Weighted Jump Rope will make your jump-rope training more intense without compromising your movement to such an extent that you’ll be forced to eliminate too many of your essential movements. You might not be able to pull off double jumps and double unders with the same adroitness as you could with an ordinary speed rope, but you should still be able to execute some of your timing and footwork drills, albeit with more heft to the movements.
What It Won’t Do for You: It won’t get you swole in a traditional sense simply because you made the switch to a weighted rope, so don’t expect that you’ll be able to ditch the weight training in favor of a weighted jump rope. Also, if you prioritize calculable calories burned over the feeling of fatigue, you’re unlikely to be able to prolong weighted rope-jumping sessions for nearly the length of time you could sustain a speed rope session for, which may mean you’re leaving some calories unburned for the sake of feeling more of a burn in your muscles.
Who It’s Really For: If you’re an athlete, this is ideal for enabling you to feel the cost of movement inflicted upon your muscles as you press forward minute by minute. You will feel a serious difference in your body’s response between jump number 100 and jump number 300.
Best Weighted Three-Pound Rope: 5Percent Heavy Weighted Jump Rope
What It Will Do for You: The 5Percent Heavy Weighted Jump Rope is an optimal rope for building strength and endurance in your shoulders and forearms while also providing you with a brutal heart-pumping training session. It will also help you to quickly warm up your upper body before you move on to targeted resistance training, or you can use it before transitioning to a speed rope later in your workout, which will make the ropes feel even lighter.
What It Won’t Do for You: It also isn’t a classic daily calorie torcher, because you won’t be able to maintain a distended training session for long periods of time. Being able to jump for more than three minutes at once will be nearly impossible for most people, so all of that talk about being able to sear away thousands of calories solely through jumping rope will be off the table if you exclusively use this heavy rope to try to fulfill your fat-burning needs.
Who It’s Really For: If you prefer to interval train, this is a great rope for working into the rotation, or to use as an active rest apparatus in between other exercises. Fit people will be able to get in enough spins during 30-second intervals to feel like they’re being challenged without feeling like they’re being brutalized too hard to continue their strength training.
Best Weighted Five-Pound Rope: Proud Panda Weighted Jump Rope
What It Will Do for You: If you don’t know what you’re getting into, the Proud Panda Weighted Jump Rope may make you wish you’d never bought it. It’s a punishing training mechanism, and even very strong people have difficulty jumping with this rope for longer than 30 seconds at a time. However, if you want to induce fatigue quickly without a ton of movement, this will rapidly do the trick.
What It Won’t Do for You: It isn’t the rope you want to engage with for a casual endurance training session, because you can’t. If you purchase a five-pound rope thinking you’ll be able to rapidly torch calories through sustained skipping sessions of 10 minutes or more, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Who It’s Really For: This is for folks who want to feel like they’re skipping rope with a gardening hose. I’m only half kidding. Even exercisers of immense strength – if they’re jumping properly – may have a difficult time maintaining proper form while jumping with this rope for more than one minute at a time. For people engaged in legitimate HIIT-style training who want to work in challenging rope-jumping intervals of 20 to 30 seconds, this is ideal for you. However, this isn’t for anyone planning to jump rope for minutes at a time unless they have Thanos-level might.
Best Weighted Ropeless Rope: APLUGTEK Weighted Cordless Jump Rope
What It Will Do for You: The APLUGTEK Weighted Cordless Jump Rope is actually a jump-rope replacement tool that will enable you to replicate the movement of a traditional jump rope without requiring you to be concerned about safely navigating a cord beneath your feet.
What It Won’t Do for You: It won’t adequately replicate the feeling of having to force a weighted rope throughout the full range of its motion, which means that it also can’t tax your body in the same way an authentic rope would. No matter how heavy the spinning balls are, they can’t approximate the physics of a heavy rope being swung through its full arc, especially when the diameter of the balls’ swinging pattern is so comparatively tiny. It also can’t help you work on precise timing with your movements, because there’s no rope tangling up your feet that can make you pay for your mistakes.
Who It’s Really For: It’s for people who want the feeling of jumping rope without being forced to deal with any interruptions in rhythm that might be caused by the actual rope. It also benefits those who have limited space to skip in. As an added bonus, it does enable rope jumping to become a tad more mindless of an activity, and I mean that in a good way. It’s more of a pure fat-burning tool, which means you can skip around while watching Love is Blind and be fully aware of which couples are making the asinine decisions of a lifetime.