The benefits of jumping rope from a scientific perspective—what skipping rope does to the body and why it’s a unique training method that provides unparalleled health benefits.
What’s up, JRD Nation?! I’m pumped to share this educational piece about the scientific benefits of jumping rope, as explained by the great Dr. Andrew Huberman and Jeff Cavaliere! Our resident expert, Jump Rope Dude Dan, weighs in on their discussion in Cavaliere’s Podcast (you can listen to the full episode here), where they revealed some pretty surprising information about what makes jumping rope so effective.
We’ll jump into that in a moment, but first, a brief introduction.
Who is Dr. Huberman and Jeff Cavalier?
Dr. Huberman is a Stanford professor specializing in neurobiology, psychiatry, and behavioral sciences. He’s contributed significantly to the fields of brain development, brain function, and neural plasticity. This is important because he’s devoted his work to things like body optimization and behavioral health—things that help people to rewire their nervous systems, learn new behaviors or skills, sleep better, and improve cognitive functioning.
Jeff Cavalier is a world-class physical therapist and strength conditioning coach, calling his revolutionary training methods Athlean-X.
They begin their discussion on jumping rope by asking what is jumping rope for? To put it another way, what does it do to the body, and why is this so significant?
What is Jumping Rope For?
Dr. Huberman used to skip rope back in the day while boxing (very cool!) and raves about the cardiovascular benefits of jumping rope, as well as teaching timing and coordination. He remembers how frustrating it can be when you don’t get it right (dude, we feel ya.)
He asks Cavaliere, as far as training benefits, do you prefer that people utilize any particular moves?— such as alternating legs, high knees, shuffling, and even double Dutch. He replies that—perhaps excluding double Dutch—all of the above! Variety is key.
It’s all about the progress you make, both physically and the neural connections formed in the brain while you’re learning a skill like jumping rope. Beginning with the basic bounce, learning to hop with your feet together and swing the rope under you every time takes a lot of skill and muscle memory for a beginner.
As people get stronger and better, they get bored, so they challenge themselves and try to do more, right? People naturally will want to play around, hop on one leg, or do something else after they learn to master a particular skill. This is why jumping rope is so special and offers benefits to anyone that does it.
We couldn’t agree more with Calaviere’s perspective on this one. The progression that people go through with jumping rope is never-ending, and that’s what’s so great about it. There are limitless tricks, combos, variations, speeds, and weights of ropes that can keep it interesting, challenging, and fun!
Cavaliere is a big proponent of multi-planar training, an approach focusing on moving the body through all 3 planes of movement for optimum results, mobility, and health. Simply put, it’s better for your body and training to challenge yourself in various ways, like shifting your weight front to back, side to side, or with tricks.
This is a big part of why jumping rope is also tremendously beneficial neurologically! Because when you push yourself through challenging movements that involve both sides of the body working together, they have to form new neurological patterns to coordinate these unique movements. New neurological pathways = neuroplasticity!
Here’s how jumping rope transforms from a regular fitness tool to a unique exercise that has incredible brain benefits, also.
Neuroplasticity and Jumping Rope
What’s neuroplasticity, and why is it important? Dr. Huberman talks about this topic a lot on his podcast—To sum up, it’s the neural connections in our brains that are essential to our daily lives and play a big part in our brain’s capacity for memory and learning.
Neuroplasticity naturally decreases as we age, so it’s important to do brain-healthy exercises and challenge our cognitive abilities often. Better neuroplasticity equates to better athletic performance, thinking more clearly, and faster reactivity/adaptability.
Jumping rope is a great training tool for any sport because it makes you adapt to changes in the orientation of your body in space. The challenge is to react to how your physical body moves through space and dances with the rope. This coordination takes tremendous mental effort to pull off, so the brain creates shortcuts, neural pathways, that allow you to pull off complex movements easier the more you practice them.
If you recall our blog: How to Jump Rope Like a Boxer, this is why boxers jump rope so regularly because it allows them to dial in lightning-fast footwork, speed, and adaptability to move in and around their opponents and always be ready for the unexpected.
Jump Rope is an Extremely Athletic Endeavor
Cavaliere shouts out great jump rope ninjas like Anna Skips and marvels at the athletic ability she possesses to be able to coordinate and skip with such precision and speed. Jumping rope is, at its peak, an incredibly athletic endeavor and only possible with years of dedicated training and skills.
Skilled skippers possess not only incredible lung capacity and cardiovascular endurance benefits, but they’re lean, sculpted, and have strong bones and joints. All of these benefits come from enjoying the flow of skipping rope, and that takes practice. Look at great skippers like Jimmysaysrelax who are masters at dancing with their rope!
Beginners—need some help with a workout? I’ve got 3 of the best jump rope workouts for beginners here!
Learning How to Land
Cavaliere states that in life, learning how to land is incredibly important. For example, he asks the listener to jump up and down and land on their heels—we do not recommend trying this!
However, he is saying this to make a point. If you can remember a time when you didn’t land well or landed on your heels, then you’ll understand. If not, let me tell you, it hurts. It rattles your jaw; there is zero cushion.
You have no shock absorption capabilities through your heels. Too often, people land on their heels or flat-footed when they run or jump. Cavaliere warns against how dangerous this can be.
All the shock absorption is on the balls of your feet and toes. Your foot is built like a spring. When jumping or running, the midtarsal joint in the foot locks up and becomes like a lever, allowing you to push off a surface with a lot of leverage and force.
When you do NOT spring off the balls of your feet and instead land flat, all the stresses that were supposed to be absorbed from the foot then go up into the ankle, the knees, and the lower back—ouch! This is why landing on the balls of your feet is vital for injury prevention.
Jumping Rope Makes You Better at Everything Else
What would I say is the the ultimate best benefit of jumping rope? I’ll leave you with a great quote from Jeff to sum it up:
“Learning how to land and training your body to experience ground reaction forces the right way is so critical to all other functions in all other abilities up the kinetic chain, and jumping rope is one of the best ways to learn how to do that.” —Jeff Cavaliere.
Jumping rope is training your body for the impact of being alive! Whether moving furniture, playing a sport, or running upstairs, your body is so much better at absorbing the shock of daily activities, which is truly the greatest benefit of jumping rope.
It’s one of the best tools to train your body to prepare for anything. Not to mention that the repetitive, low-impact of skipping rope is one of the best ways to build bone density and strengthen your joints.
Did you like Dan’s take on this discussion? Are there any benefits of jumping rope that he left out? Let me know in the comments, and maybe we can convince either Dr. Huberman or Mr. Cavaliere to speak with the Jump Rope Dudes in the future!
It’s important to take your jump rope journey slow if you have a good amount of weight to lose. You can read more about the ONLY 10 things that matter for weight loss here if you need some good, common sense advice on that.
Join Us For a Workout?
You know we can’t say goodbye without reminding you that you can enjoy the amazing benefits of jumping rope by joining me for a workout anytime in the JRD App, featuring all of our best-selling workout programs like Swole Samurai, JRD 90, JRD MAX, and Shredded Ninja, plus new daily workouts added every Mon—Fri. We also have helpful nutrition info and the world’s largest jump rope community!
If you’re not already a member, try the JRD APP FREE FOR 2 WEEKS and decide if it’s a good fit for you. That’s all for today; keep showing up for those workouts and making yourself proud!
Do. The Thing. 💪