Jump Rope Alternatives: How to Target the Same Muscles

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
November 14, 2022

Jump rope, or jumping rope, is a full body workout that has gained popularity due to its benefits and the variations that come with the exercise. It carries with it multiple gains including burning calories, improving coordination, strengthening bones, and improving overall health among others. However, when a rope is not available or when an individual finds difficulty in executing the jump rope, there are alternative exercises that provide similar benefits.

Alternative exercises to the jump rope are cardio workouts that may be performed with and without the use of equipment. These exercises include jumping jacks, high knees, swimming, elliptical training, and cycling. In addition to providing similar benefits, these alternative exercises give variety to workout routines as well.

Knowing the benefits of the jump rope and its alternatives allows for better understanding of why these exercises should be incorporated in workout routines.

What is Jumping Rope?

Jumping rope is a simple yet very effective calorie-burner which also improves cardiovascular endurance. With the use of only a small space and a jump rope, this exercise enhances coordination and agility as well. 

jumping rope

Studies have shown the efficiency of jumping rope to burn calories as compared to jogging, and even running. It takes about only 10 minutes of jumping rope to be able to burn the same amount of calories as running an eight-minute mile. It may also cause less stress to the joints due to having both feet absorb the impact as compared to running where the body is pushed forward through a single limb support all throughout the activity.

Jump Rope Alternatives

There are various alternatives to the jump rope as these include any exercise that functions as a cardio workout. Alternatives to the jump rope are exercises that range from workouts that may be done without the use of equipment to those that require a machine. Some of these alternatives offer lower impact activities that reap the same benefits as jumping rope without the added stress to the joints.

1. Jumping Jacks

The jumping jack is a workout that enhances cardiovascular health the same way that the jump rope does.

It is performed by starting in a standing position, feet placed together, and the arms at the sides. The individual then jumps to a position where the legs are spread wide apart with the hands going above the head. Jumping back to the starting position completes one repetition. Some individuals prefer to clap as the hands meet overhead.

jumping jacks

The number of repetitions that an individual should perform depends on their fitness level and experience. As with any other exercise, it is ideal to start at a low number of repetitions, about ten repetitions for three sets, at a low-to-moderate intensity, and work their way up. This allows the body to acclimatize to the routine as well as to avoid injury.

2. High Knees

High knees are a cardio workout that improves coordination, flexibility, and lower body strength. This exercise also engages the core and can be done anywhere as there is no need for equipment, just like the jumping jacks. High knees are usually incorporated into warmups and in between exercise sets to keep the heart rate elevated.

high knees

To perform high knees, the individual stands with the feet hip-width apart. The right leg is lifted so that the knee is higher than the waist. The knee is flexed at a 90-degree angle before switching legs by bringing the right leg back to the ground while simultaneously lifting the left leg. The arms are allowed to move in a controlled motion with the opposite arm and leg lifting at the same time. The movement is continued by alternating legs and moving at a pace as if running in place.

3. Swimming

Swimming is the act of propelling oneself through water with the use of arms and legs. It is used in both recreation and sports, and as an exercise, it develops muscles all over the body and enhances cardiovascular endurance.


Swimming is a great alternative to jumping rope because it is a low impact exercise that trains almost every skeletal muscle in the body.  Being an overall exercise, swimming helps maintain a healthy heart and lungs. It tones muscles all throughout the body and helps with weight management.

4. Elliptical Training

The elliptical trainer is a stationary machine that allows an individual to stair climb, walk, or run without the stress on joints caused by these activities without the machine.

It allows for a cardio workout that develops both the upper and lower extremities. Although it is a low impact activity, elliptical training is a weight bearing workout which is beneficial to building stronger bones, muscles, and connective tissue. 

elliptical muscles

5. Cycling

Cycling is the use of bicycles for transport, sports, recreation, or exercise. Like swimming and elliptical training, it is a low impact exercise that boosts cardiovascular fitness. It develops muscle strength, flexibility and improves joint mobility. By increasing the metabolic rate, cycling also helps with weight management.

cycling muscles

Benefits of Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular training has a lot of benefits which is why it is often recommended in both healthy people and individuals with lifestyle illnesses such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus. These benefits involve the various organs of the body as well as an individual’s mood and sleep.

Mental and Cognitive Benefits

Some studies claim that physical activity such as cardiovascular training reduces the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This also improves memory, thinking ability, and overall cognitive function while reducing the risk of stroke.

The release of endorphins that come with cardiovascular exercises also helps in improving mood and energy. Sleep is also improved as studies have found that cardio workouts help with REM sleep.

Muscle, Joint, and Skin Benefits

Healthier and clearer skin is a benefit of staying active as this improves blood circulation. As for the joints, cardiovascular training helps fight against the development of osteoporosis and hip fracture while maintaining joint range of motion. Muscles are also trained to adapt and acclimatize to increased workloads, thus allowing easier performance of activities.

Pancreas and Blood Benefits

The pancreas is an organ that functions to secrete insulin in order to address blood sugar levels. Because cardiovascular exercises improve blood sugar control, the pancreas is spared from the stress that comes with high sugar in the body, thus decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Blood circulation is also improved by cardiovascular workouts which benefits all organs in the body. Apart from this, cardio exercises are able to increase good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol that may lead to atherosclerotic diseases.

Final Thoughts

The jump rope is a great full body workout that improves cardiovascular health, coordination, and bone strength. The alternative exercises to the jump rope are capable of providing similar benefits while providing variety to workout routines. While there are a range of exercises to choose from, the choice of workout greatly depends on individual preference and equipment availability.


1. Kirthika, Veena & .s, Sudhakar & Selvam, Senthil. (2019). The Effect of Skipping rope Exercise on Physical and Cardiovascular fitness among Collegiate Males. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. 12. 4831-4835. 10.5958/0974-360X.2019.00836.9.

2. Veena Kirthika. S, Lakshmanan. R, Padmanabhan. K, Selvaraj Sudhakar, Senthil Selvam. P. The Effect of Skipping rope Exercise on Physical and Cardiovascular fitness among Collegiate Males. Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 2019; 12(10):4831-4835. doi: 10.5958/0974-360X.2019.00836.9

3. Schroeder EC, Franke WD, Sharp RL, Lee D-chul. Comparative effectiveness of aerobic, resistance, and combined training on cardiovascular disease risk factors: A randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0210292. Published January 7, 2019. Accessed August 2, 2021.

4. Myers J. Exercise and cardiovascular health. American Heart Association. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.CIR.0000048890.59383.8D. Published January 7, 2003. Accessed August 2, 2021.

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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