Except for running, there’s no cardio workout with equipment more minimal than jumping rope. It’s affordable, too—even high-end ones will set you back only $50. And it’s a dynamic workout. “Because of all the motor skills it requires, it’s beneficial to brain health, plus it improves your cardiovascular function, and you burn a crazy amount of calories,” says trainer Curtis Williams, a former NFL wide receiver. Just to underscore that point: Jumping at a moderate pace uses as much energy as running 7:30-minute miles. For beginners, technique and patience are everything. Jump with feet hip-width apart, knees soft, elbows at your sides, and wrists just behind thighs. Start with sets of two, and tack on pairs as you gain agility. At first, jumping rope can feel like a sprint without a finish line, so Williams adds in body-weight strength moves for a well-rounded, high-intensity circuit.
Stretch, then warm up by cycling through moves like air squats, lunges, and jumping jacks until you break a sweat. Perform each of the following circuits 3 times and take a 3-minutes breather between them, netting a 40-minute routine.
1. In and Out
Jump, staying on balls of feet and landing them hip-width apart. On next rotation, land with feet wider than hip-width. Alternate foot position with each rotation. 60 seconds.
2. Sprinters’ Lunge Jump
Start with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Step left foot back into a lunge, bringing left arm forward and right arm back, elbows at 90 degrees. Drive through heels to jump up, driving right arm forward and left arm back, and land in starting postiion. Perform all reps on one side, then switch sides. 45 seconds on each side.
3. Burpee With Knee Twist