Start slow, give your body time to adapt.
Jump rope requires lower body strength and coordination, but you can develop the skill with a little patience and consistency. Working your way up to 10 minutes of continuous jumping is hard in many of the same ways that working up to 30 minutes of running is, so it’s important to start off slow, to give your body enough time to adapt. “Stay within your own pace,” Ms. Henry said.
Going slow is especially important if you are just starting to work out after a period of inactivity, if your body isn’t used to the impact of jumping or if you are recovering from injuries. It’s also important to speak with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
In the beginning, it may be enough to do one or two jumps at a time, until you have enough awareness of how your feet and the rope are supposed to move together. Or try jumping in place as a way to break it into simpler components. Stand as you would normally, with the jump rope behind you, and jump without swinging the rope. This will help you become comfortable with the movement of jumping, while also establishing the coordination of holding the rope as you jump.
You can also swing the rope over your head, letting it stop before it reaches your feet, at which point you step over it to develop a sense of timing for when the rope will hit the ground.
Once your body is used to jumping, it shouldn’t feel too hard. “You want to be relaxed and easy in your movements,” said Dwight Pratchett, a former professional boxer and boxing coach based in Houston. “When you tense up, you use up your gas too fast.” For Mr. Pratchett, jump rope has been a valuable tool for improving footwork and aerobic capacity, both in his work as a coach, as well as his own fitness regimen.
If jumping doesn’t feel right, it’s important to look at your form. “You want to really nail down the basics,” Ms. Henry said. This includes jumping on the balls of your feet, rather than flat-footed, with a slight bend to your knees. In the beginning, it’s best to jump with both feet at the same time, until you feel comfortable enough to start alternating.
“It’s hard to get that rhythm, but once you get it down, you can feel it,” Mr. Pratchett said. “It’s almost like dancing.”