What's the Difference Between a Speed Jump Rope and a Weighted Jump Rope?
May 04, 2022Matt Hopkins
The monotony of running, cycling, and swimming has left some cardio aficionados looking for new ways to spice up their routines. In the search for an exercise that’s simple and fun, not too intimidating, and facilitates a good workout, jumping rope often rises to the top — and for good reason.
But what many don’t realize when dipping their toes into the world of jumping rope is that there is an assortment of rope types, lengths, and weights, each capable of providing a slightly different experience.
Two of the most popular types are a speed jump rope and a weighted jump rope. While their names provide the biggest clues into how they differ, we wanted to dive deeper and help you determine which jump rope is right for you. Read on as we describe the differences between a speed jump rope and a weighted jump rope.
Before going into the specifics about jump rope types, we wanted to remind you about the abundant benefits you can receive from the exercise. It seems obvious, but jumping rope is an excellent way to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. Like any sustained cardio exercise, jumping rope requires the body to pump more blood and oxygen to working muscles, increasing heart and respiratory rate. You should also know that jumping rope isn’t just for cardio — it can be instrumental in building strength and muscular endurance, particularly in your buttocks, biceps, and abdominal muscles.
But perhaps the most enticing reason for anyone to jump rope is that it’s fun! After all, there’s a reason why so many of us spent hours jumping rope on the playground as children. Between the nostalgia and joy of jumping rope and the ability to create custom workouts that target specific fitness goals, it’s an exercise that can make working out pleasurable again for a lot of people.
When selecting a jump rope for your workout regimen, there are several things to keep in mind. First, you’ll need to determine your ability level. This is because beginner jump ropes can vary greatly from those designed for more seasoned jump rope enthusiasts.
Next, you should consider the jump rope’s material. While cloth jump ropes are usually inexpensive and suitable for beginner workouts, they tend to rip or tear when used outside. PVC-coated jump ropes are good alternatives that can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Finally, think about the type of jump rope for your workout. Common types include basic jump ropes, speed jump ropes, weighted jump ropes, and beaded jump ropes.
Once you’ve selected your jump rope’s material and type, you’ll need to make sure it’s the right length. To find the correct length for you, step on the middle of the jump rope and pull the handles up toward your shoulders. If the cable ends around your armpits, you’ve found the right length to get started.
After you’ve conquered your workout with a basic jump rope, chances are you’ll want to transition to either a speed or weighted version. There are a few main differences between the two that you should be aware of as you make your decision.
Speed jump ropes are designed to be lightweight and used in a series of rapid motions. With most speed jump ropes, the handles are made of carefully-selected metals — an advantage that helps keep the overall weight down. Since speed jump ropes offer very little in terms of resistance, you shouldn’t expect to build muscle with these workouts. Instead, speed ropes are ideal for performing moves like double unders which can improve agility and increase stamina.
As you might have expected, weighted jump ropes will provide more resistance because they are heavier. In most cases, weighted jump ropes will range from one to six pounds, which means you won’t be able to use them as rapidly as you would a speed jump rope. Because of the added heft and additional coordination and strength needed, weighted jump ropes should only be used after you’ve mastered basic and speed jump ropes.
One thing to remember as you look for a weighted jump rope is that how the weight is distributed can impact your workout. Jump ropes with weights in the handle provide a less effective workout because you’re actually not moving the weight very much. To make matters worse, attempting to combat that by moving the weights more can cause poor coordination and form.
On the other hand, jump ropes where the weight is included within the rope offer much greater dynamic resistance since you’re pushing and pulling the weight a far greater distance than when it’s just in the handles. In turn, this is more challenging for the upper body, resulting in a more complete workout that hits on both anaerobic and strength goals. Keep your eyes peeled for a weighted rope that features ball-bearings in the handles, which makes for a smoother turn and rotation of the cord.
When you’re ready to improve your fitness level or add jumping rope to your routine, Elite Jumps can help. We offer a variety of jump ropes designed for different purposes, including speed, fitness, and freestyle movements. Check out our Jump Rope Buyer’s Guide to find the right jump rope for your workout needs.
About the Author
Matt Hopkins is a former competitive speed jumper and jump rope coach. Matt has won numerous national championships in speed jumping, and his athletes have won several national speed and freestyle titles and have broken world and national speed records. He also taught middle and elementary school PE in Leavenworth WA for 23 years.
We're all about equipping and encouraging people to take on big challenges, because we know the process of doing hard things helps us grow in character and capacity.