Head To Head – Jump Rope vs Running

Head To Head – Jump Rope vs Running

In this article, two of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise go head to head –  jump rope vs running. 
Before we dive in, it’s worth mentioning that you can’t go too far wrong with either of these choices. They are both super convenient, highly affordable forms of cardio that are excellent for burning calories and losing weight. 
Now that the diplomacy card has been played, let’s get cracking. 

Which burns more calories, jump rope or running?

The main factors here are how fast you run, and how fast you do jump rope.  For the sake of simplicity, let’s take a look at how many calories a 180 pound person can expect to burn when performing these exercises for 20 minutes: 

Jump Rope vs Running - Calories Burned Calculator

Average Calories Burned for 180 lbs Person
  • Slow Jump Rope for 20 Mins - 219 Calories
  • Moderate Jump Rope for 20 Mins - 273 Calories
  • Fast Jump Rope for 20 Mins - 328 Calories
  • Running at 6 mp/h for 20 Mins - 273 Calories
  • Running at 7.5 mp/h for 20 Mins - 342 Calories
  • Running at 9 mp/h for 20 Mins - 410 Calories

It’s pretty clear from the table above that running and jump rope burn a similar number of calories. 

In particular, moderate jump for 20 mins burns the same amount of calories (273) as running at 6mp/h for 20 mins (273). Most people will fall somewhere in this region, which means that they can simply choose whichever option they prefer. 

However, the moment you start pushing above 7.5 mp/h, running starts to dominate this battle. Fast running (9 mp/h) for 20 mins burns 410 calories, while fast jump rope for 20 mins only burns 328 calories. Long story short, fast running trumps fast jump rope.

Please note – all the figures above were calculated using WebMD’s calorie calculator and a body weight of 180 lbs.


Which exercise is most likely to cause injury?

Runners will need to eat some humble pie on this one, quite simply, because runners get injured all the time. The stats really aren’t pretty. Jeff Gaudette (from Runners Connect) points out that “79% of runners get injured at lease once during the year”.  
The main injuries to watch out for if you run regularly are:
  • Runner’s Knee
  • Achilles Tendinitis (Swollen, tight and painful achilles tendon)
  • Shin Splints
  • Plantar Fasciitis (Foot pain caused by running too much)
  • IT Band Syndrome  (Pain that runs from your thigh to the outer area of your knee)
  • Calf Strains
  • Hamstring Strains
Although jump rope is less likely to cause injury if you do it in short stints, it’s very possible that you could get injured if you skip for 20 minutes or more without stopping. While most jump rope enthusiasts won’t do it for 20 minutes continuously, you are still at risk when you progress to longer jump rope workouts (30+ mins in total).
The main injuries to watch out for if you do jump rope are:
  • Shin Splints
  • Calf Strains
Clearly jump rope doesn’t result in as many injuries as running, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Whichever one you choose, make sure you build up your lower body strength  before you go full tilt into an advanced training program. 

Can jumping rope replace running?

For people who have experienced tons of running injuries or simply don’t like running, jump rope is an excellent alternative. You can burn a similar number of calories, and you don’t need to worry quite as much about injuries. 
If you’re thinking about going down this route, the CROSSROPE is basically the best Jump Rope that money can buy. And if you want a solid Jump Rope training program, the Jump Rope Dudes are probably your best bet. They have created some pretty awesome programs, for beginners, veterans and experts, and their before and after photos are very impressive. 
If you just want a super simple yet highly rated book about Jump Rope Training, Buddy Lee’s program is a very good option. 

Which is better for losing weight?

We’ve already established that jump rope is basically the equivalent of running at 6mp/h in terms of calorie burning potential. 

But here’s the thing. Very few people have the endurance fitness required to do jump rope for 40 minutes straight, without taking a rest. This is very different from runners, who can hit the 45 minute mark quite comfortably if they commit to a decent training schedule for a few months. 
In other words, it’s much easier to run for long periods of time than it is to do jump rope for long periods of time. 
So even if these exercises do burn a similar number of calories, you are likely to accumulate more minutes of ‘calorie burning cardio’ when you run. This is why running tends to trump jump rope in terms of weight loss. 

Which is more fun, jump rope or running?

This one is debatable, but for me, running definitely takes the cake. You get to explore really awesome routes, take in your surroundings, and discover new places in your neighborhood.
Jump rope can be pretty fun for short periods of time, but you won’t find me doing thousands and thousands of reps in exactly the same spot. I would much rather use all that energy to devour my favourite 5k and 10k training routes. 
Then again, some people hate running, so they might find more joy with jump rope. The best thing is to try both for a couple of weeks, and then settle on the training method you prefer. 

The 3 Biggest Advantages That Running Has Over Jump Rope

There are actually three major advantages to running.
1) Training Length – If you run for 45 minutes, you will burn a ridiculous amount of calories, even if you don’t run that fast. Moreover, once you get into your groove, running for 45 minutes or more isn’t that big a deal. The time literally flies by. 
The same cannot be said for jump rope. I like how Kyle Garner (owner of movemoresitless.com) puts it: “Jumping rope for 10 minutes is nothing like running for 10 minutes.  These are two completely different stresses. Time seems to stand still when you jump rope. 10 minutes can feel like 30 minutes.
Basically, time seems to slow down when you do jump rope, and speed up when you run. This can make it much easier for runners to train for longer periods of time. Training length can be the difference between burning 200 calories, and burning 1000 calories. That’s not a joke.
2) Training for races is extremely rewarding – You get to attach an extremely powerful end goal to each and every training session that you complete. This can keep you focused and motivated for long stretches of time in the build up to race day. 
3) More Total Calories during a workout – We’ve really hammered this one home, but it’s worth repeating. While these activities may burn a similar number of calories, you can squeeze more calorie burning minutes into a running session, mainly because you don’t need to rest nearly as often. 

So the time that you spend resting during a jump rope session, is time that you could be burning even more calories during a running session.  This adds up to a lot more calories in a 40-50 minute session.

The 2 Biggest Advantages That Jump Rope Has over Running

1) Less likely to cause injury – Getting injured sucks. You lose all your fitness, it drains all your motivation, and you can quickly find yourself in rut that is difficult to break out of. 
The good news with jump rope is that you are less likely to become a victim of injury. It is less taxing on your body, and you are far less likely to be sidelined for weeks (and even months) on end. The same cannot be said for running. 
2) A great alternative for people who don’t like running – There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t enjoy running. The main thing is to recognize that regular cardiovascular exercise has serious long term health benefits. If running doesn’t work for you, jump rope can unlock the same cardio benefits if you do it properly.


Final Thoughts

I think it’s plain to see that running and jump rope are both excellent ways to burn calories, which makes both of them great for losing weight. 

Even though running edges this battle in a few important ways (total calorie burning potential, race day motivation and awesome events all over the world), jump rope is a perfectly good replacement if you don’t enjoy collecting kilometers. 

The most important thing is to make sure you do cardio regularly. Whether that’s with a jump rope or a pair of running shoes doesn’t actually matter all that much. The long term benefits are pretty much the same.