You don't need fancy gym machines to burn calories and tone your whole body. Try these fun, fat-burning moves that only require a jump rope!
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Bored of using your jump rope to, well, just jump rope? There are tons of ways to use this simple piece of equipment to get a full-body workout. The first trick to try is the crossover, done by jumping rope as usual and then crossing your arms in front of you while the rope is in the air. Adding the crossover will challenge your jumping ability and shift the rope-turning work from your biceps to your shoulders and forearms. Tip: Alternate regular jumps with crossovers at first and then try keeping your arms crossed.
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Make ballerinas jealous by turning and jumping rope at the same time! Adding a half turn will test your balance and if you make it a jump, you can add work for your quads and calves. Tip: Start out by slowly jogging to turn around. Once you've mastered that, try doing the turn in incremental hops. Feeling really tricky? Do the turn in one hop with your arms crossed over like Allison here. Bonus points if you can make that same face!
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You've seen Mohammad Ali float like a butterfly (Rocky made it look pretty good too), so try the boxer jump by keeping your weight in your heels and jumping one foot out in front of you at a time. Tip: Start slowly by hopping each foot out like an exaggerated skip. Once you've got the motion down, just do little heel taps as fast as you can twirl the rope.
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The playground made it cool, CrossFit brought it back, and all the welts you're about to get on your ankles make it the move you'll love to hate. But nothing you do with a jump rope gets your heart rate up faster than the double under so it's a great trick to learn. Start by jumping rope normally and when you're ready, jump as high as you can while spinning the rope twice so that it passes under your feet two times before you land. If you miss you'll snap yourself across the legs so don't worry, you'll catch on quick. Tip: This one is really about how fast you can spin the rope, not how high you jump.
Forward and Back
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Pick a line, any line! While twirling the rope, hop back and forth over the line. This adds an element of difficulty that will help get your heart rate up and make you jump a little higher. Tip: Alternate this move with the ski jumps to work all four directions of movement to really challenge your agility.
Jump Rope Jacks
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Anyone who can jump rope and do jumping jacks can do this move! Twirling the rope as you normally would, jump your feet in and out like a jumping jack . Tip: Don't move your arms in a jumping jack motion, just your legs. Trust us—and the bright red mark across Allison's face...
Single Leg Hop
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You'll really feel the burn in your calf if you jump on one leg for 30 seconds (and then the other). Tip: Work up to a full minute on each leg for serious muscle sculpting.
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Twirling the rope, jump your legs side to side in time with the rope. Tip: Imagine you're doing black-diamond moguls! (Unless you've never skied and then imagine doing that weird pogo dance that people do in mosh pits. And if you've never skied or been in a mosh pit, get out there and live a little!)
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If you ran track in high school, you've got this one down. But for those of us who spent more time running for student council than running laps, try this explosive move to get your heart rate up and work your quads, calves, and hamstrings. Either have two friends hold the rope for you or tie it between two stable objects at about knee height. Back up about ten feet and run at the rope, jumping over it one leg at a time. Turn around and jump again, this time with the opposite foot leading to challenge your coordination. Tip: Lean forward over your front leg and really get your back leg up so it doesn't catch on the rope.
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Just like the hurdle jump, you're going to stretch your rope between two objects (chairs work fine). Start with it about knee height. Get a running start and jump both feet at the same time over the rope. Increase the rope height until it challenges you. Tip: Take out the run and jump both legs forward over the rope from a standing position to really work your thighs and butt and increase your power.
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Again with the rope stretched between two objects (or adorable girlfriends—we're available for parties, just ask!), stand with both feet on one side of the rope. Jump one leg over sideways and then the other, just touching the toe of your second leg down before hopping back over the rope one leg at a time. Done in slo-mo, it looks like an exaggerated cowboy swagger. Tip: Whatever you do, do not confuse this one with the high jump and raise the rope mid jump!
Side Rope Hops
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With the rope set up the same as in the previous exercises, stand sideways next to the rope. In one movement jump both legs sideways over the rope, landing on the other side. Repeat in the other direction. Tip: Swing your arms to help you get height.
Jump Rope Lunges
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Jumping lunges, a tried-and-true plyometric exercise that works your butt and quads, goes to a whole new level when you do it while spinning a jump rope. The fear of hitting the rope keeps your jumps high and prevents resting on the landing. Tip: Jump slowly at first. Once you have a good rhythm down, try adding the rope to the mix.
Squat Jump Rope
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Starting in a deep squat, twirl the rope and jump over it, maintaining your squat position to really strengthen your quads and glutes. Tip: Don't straighten your legs between reps, stay in the squat as long as you can.
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Loop your jump rope around something sturdy—tree branch, banister, basketball standard, or even a well-mounted exit sign (we might have been a little desperate). Lean back and hold the rope handles, arms extended at shoulder height. Keep your arms up at shoulder height and do a bicep curl, slowly bringing your body upright. Lower back down and repeat. Tip: The closer your feet are to the base (the farther you're leaning back), the more of your body weight you'll have to lift and the harder the move will be.
Forward Buddy Pull
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With one buddy seated on something that will slide (a towel works on wood floors), each take one end of the rope. Face forward and pull your buddy across the floor. You'll be surprised at how sore your legs are the next day. Tip: You can hold the rope handles at waist level to shift some of the pulling work to your biceps.
Forward Buddy Pull with Skiing
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Why should only one buddy have all the workout fun? By standing on a towel or sliding discs (even paper plates work!), the person being pulled has to work to maintain their balance.
Backward Buddy Pull
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Just like the forward buddy pull but this time, you're facing your partner to change the way you work your leg muscles. Tip: If you don't have a buddy to haul around, you can pull a weighted sled (some gyms have them) or tie your rope to an upside down aerobic step filled with weight plates.
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This one is a serious upper-body challenge. Unlike the rope climb you remember from gym class, you won't be able to use your legs to help you this time. Loop your jump rope over something sturdy and tall like a tree branch or a basketball hoop and climb hand over hand as far as you can go. This also really works your grip strength. Tip: Double up the rope. I've never had a rope break on me but who wants to take chances?
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Loop your jump rope over something stable like you did for the rope climb, but instead of climbing it, just grab the rope as high as you can and do a pull-up. Switch which hand is on top after each rep. Not only does this work your shoulders, arms, lats, and back like regular pull-ups, but it also works your core and grip strength. Tip: If you can't do a pull-up then add a jump to help you up. Use your arms as much as you can but let your legs help you out.
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Loop your rope around a stable object at about head height. Hold both handles in your hands, extend your arms, and lean way back. Keeping your core tight, pull your arms around to the side (your body will raise up some) ending with both handles next to one hip. Lower back down and repeat on the other side. This move really targets your obliques, but it also works your shoulders. Tip: The more you lean back, the tougher this move will be.
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With your rope still looped around an object at head height, face away from the base and grab the handles with both hands. Keep your elbows in tight and arms in line with your shoulders as you slowly lean forward and extend your arms. Return to a 90 degree angle and repeat. Tip: The farther you walk your feet back (the more you lean forward) the harder this will be.
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With your rope still looped high, lean way back and extend your arms in front of you. Keeping your arms close to your body, bend at the elbows to bring your body upright. You should feel this in your upper back, right between your shoulder blades. Lower back down and repeat. Tip: Make sure you keep your chest open and really squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
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With the rope still looped high, lean way back with your arms extended. Keeping your arms straight, pull up until your arms make a Y. Lower back down, bringing your arms back together and repeat. Tip: Don't swing your body, just use your shoulder strength to pull you up.
Tug of War
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Did you know there are professional tug-of-war teams that really compete? That alone should convince you of the athleticism of this children's game. Simply do your best to pull your partner forward past a certain point. Tip: Use a strong rope. And don't try this one with a stationary object as you won't win. (If you do manage to "win," you'll still lose when you have to pay for damages to your neighbor's fence.)
Arm and Shoulder Stretch
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This stretch targets your biceps, chest, shoulders, and upper back—just by shifting your weight. Standing with feet together, double up rope and hold it in both hands. Bring it behind your head and pull to one side like a bow and arrow. (Yes, I know you don't typically shoot a bow from behind your head, but what can I say? They do it in the movies!) Stretch and then switch sides. Tip: Bring your hands closer together to deepen the stretch.
Assisted Hamstring Stretch
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In an ideal world we'd all be able to touch our toes (and chocolate would be calorie free!). But until that happens, start stretching! Loop the rope over one extended leg. Keeping your back straight, pull on the rope until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs. Tip: Try extending both legs at once—just remember not to bend those knees!
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This was fun in 5th grade and it's still fun now! You don't even have to be drunk at your office party to do it. To stretch your core muscles and increase flexibility in your back, start with the rope at shoulder height and shimmy underneath it. You remember the rules: Your hands can't touch and your head has to go under the rope last.