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Does a Jump Rope Make You Faster?

Working out with a jump rope offers numerous health benefits. According to MayoClinic.com, jumping rope is among the most effective activities for burning calories. It develops your cardiovascular system and decreases your risk for heart disease. Athletes use jump ropes to improve their athletic performance, as it improves agility abilities. In addition, it has been shown to improve your running speed.

Jumping rope improves your neuromuscular system, meaning the process of your nerves communicating with your muscles to contract becomes more efficient. According to Mark Roozen of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, jumping rope trains your body in the basics of movement and muscle activation. While you’re jumping, your ankles dorsiflex and your knees and hips flex, just as they must do when you’re running.

Jumping rope develops your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the types of fibers involved in explosive, high-force contractions. When you’re completing sprints, running short durations or nearing the finish line after a long distance run, you utilize your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Roozen explains that jumping rope will help improve your fast-twitch fiber contractions, which transfers to an improvement of skill in any activity that involves a short period of break from the ground surface in repetitive fashion, just as in running.

In a 1998 study that was published by the "Journal of Applied Physiology," researcher Leena Paavolainen found that runners who traded a third of their running sessions for jump rope workouts saw significant improvements in their running speeds in the 5K distance. This speed improvement was not due to cardiovascular developments, but because of improved neuromuscular characteristics and better running economy.

To see running speed improvements, complete jump rope workouts two to three days per week. In the 1998 "Journal of Applied Physiology" study, the group that only completed small amounts of jump rope work per week did not see improvements. Roozen recommends making a four-point quadrant pattern on the floor with chalk or tape and to complete an array of different combinations of jumps, including regular hops, side to sides with both feet and with one foot, up and backs with both feet and with one foot, double jumps, triangle jumps and running in place. Perform each exercise for about 30 seconds each.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.