CrossFit, like many sports or trades, needs a “bag of tools” that you can reach into when the time is right. In that bag may be your special metcons, weightlifting shoes, weight belt, athletic tape, wrist wraps, and jump rope for example.
Why do you need your own bag of tools? Just like a carpenter has their hammer, tape measure, and saw, each designed to complete a specific task, a CrossFitter needs their own equipment for whatever task comes up that fits their own body and technique. Having the correct equipment not only allows you to show off your own personality, but more importantly allows you to perform better.
Today we are here to talk about the jump rope. Many gyms offer communal jump ropes, which are exactly how that sounds; you must pick from a selection of ropes that are meant to fill a broad spectrum of athletes from 4’ tall to 7’ tall, with all variations of techniques. So what happens if you are 5’8”, learning double unders, and jump with your arms 10” away from your sides? Do you have the same option as someone who is 5’7” has double unders, and keeps their arms by their sides? Chances are, if you’re using the same rope, you’re limiting your performance before you even make your first jump.
So, what are the things to think about when you make your first jump rope purchase?
- Short: Fits nicely in your hand without extra weight or bulk.
- Long: These are usually tapered; with a larger diameter handle at the end tapering to a narrower diameter handle. These handles are nice for longer sets of jump rope or those WODs where there are multiple sets of jump rope. Having the longer handle allows you to move your hand placement as you get tired – ultimately allowing you to add or shorter length to your rope as needed.
- Ergonomic: RX Jump Rope makes one of the most comfortable handle that fits like a mold in your hand. This makes longer sets more bearable and fatigues your hands less when you have to move onto, let’s say, pull ups.
- Heavy (thicker) weight: Great for beginners who have trouble “feeling” the rope as they pass it around their body. It is also beneficial to experienced jump ropers who can practice with a heavier rope and switch to a lighter weight rope on game day.
- Medium (thinner) weight: A nice all around weight that you can still feel the rope as your body fatigues during fitness.
- Light weight (speed rope): Thinnest rope that is meant to cut the air and move fast.
- PVC: Plastic ropes that are easy to cut and maintain. They usually are heavy to medium weight.
- Hybrid: This is a cable rope with a PVC shell. They are usually medium weight and have a nice feel to them.
- PVC coated cable: These are your typical speed rope with a durable PVC layer to keep the rope lasting long.
- Cable: Just the cable which makes them the fastest and lightest.
With all the options, where do you start? It’s best to pick a handle type that you prefer first. You can always change out cable styles and lengths as you change and grow without having to buy an entire new rope. From there ask yourself if you need the heavier weight rope as you’re learning to jump rope, or are you proficient with the rope- can you go lighter? Choose the length that you currently use at the gym, then you can always shorten the rope as your technique improves (shorter the rope, the faster and easier double unders become – assuming good technique).
There a lot manufacturers of jump ropes out there; but mostly they offer different style handles, and generally all the cables are similar. So go with one that you like. A few common places to start looking are:
Boom! You now have your new jump rope, what next?!? Practice, practice, practice… You want double unders, you have to practice them! Always roll and store your rope without kinks and twists in the rope. Lastly, make it yours somehow. There will be many other athletes all with similar ropes, make sure you know it’s yours!