When you ask about how long a jump rope should be, I’m assuming you’re not asking so that you can play double dutch, because that changes the calculus just a smidge. Not that double dutch would provide you with any less of a workout, but we’re talking about cranking out an old-fashioned Roberto-Duran-style session of manos de piedra rope jumping that will have you looking like the toughest dude in the gym simply from hopping around with a veritable children’s toy.
I spent plenty of time jumping rope in the fitness studio of the Bally Total Fitness Executive Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I was emulating Rocky Balboa and attempting to look like a legitimate fighter (I’m not in the least bit), all while listening to disco classics like “Dancing Machine” over the studio speakers as septuagenarian Black ladies asked me, “What you know about that?!”
The point being, I’ve had my share of fun with a speed rope in my hands.
As far as adjusting the length of the jump rope is concerned, well, that definitely took some trial and error. It also involved getting whacked in the back of the head several times.
Okay, but that’s you. If we want to use a jump rope, how do we find one that’s long enough?
It may or may not seem obvious to you, but the ideal length of your jump rope is going to have quite a bit to do with how tall you are. In fact, aside from how far apart you like to hold your hands as you swing the rope around, that’s all you really need to think about if you’re choosing your ideal rope length. From there, the formula is relatively simple: You should start with an 8-foot-long rope if you’re 5-feet tall; for every 6 inches of height above that, you should add a foot of length.
That’s really all there is to it. If you’re six feet tall, you should make sure the jump rope you’re investing in is at least 10 feet in length. The annoyance occurs when you’re forced to contend with “adjustable” ropes with peak lengths shorter than 10 feet, essentially guaranteeing that no one taller than the average height of an American man is going to be safe from a rude leathery (or plastic) slap in the back of the head. As such, most men will have to find an adjustable jump rope that can extend to at least 11 feet just to be on the safe side. Or if you’re comfortable with something that replicates the spirit of jumping rope without actually having to… you know… jump over a rope, you can see if you take a shine to a cordless jump rope. I can’t say that I’ve ever tried one before, but I also can’t say I’m not intrigued.
That sounds like a very simple formula.
Frankly, it’s a little too simple, but it’s the best formula I can come up with that applies to the largest number of body types. People’s bodies are very idiosyncratic, and those of the same size with different leg lengths and arm lengths are going to find themselves holding the same jump rope at two different heights, with two different outcomes. Just remember that if you’re in doubt, buy the longer jump rope. Adjustable jump ropes are like hair in that way: You can start long and make it shorter, but if you start short, you can’t make it any longer.