The million dollar question: should you jump rope before or after you workout?
If you think you’re the first person to ever ask yourself this question, think again. Many people face this question every day they workout.
While many ponder on this question thinking that there is no real answer and it’s a matter of personal preference, it’s my goal to find out which one is actually better, jumping rope before or after your workout.
Of course, personal preference may certainly play a part in whether or not it’s better to jump rope before or after you workout, and I’m not here to say that it doesn’t.. However, I believe - with strong reason and evidence - that science may actually lean in one direction more than the other.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as cut and dry as this is better than this in every single instance because that would make things much simpler. Instead, it is highly dependent on the fitness goals you have set for yourself. With that said, if you just want a quick answer, scroll to the bottom and read the last few sections. However, if you want to learn and be smarter today than you were yesterday, consider reading the entire article.
In this article, we will go over several different fitness goals you may have and whether or not it is better to jump rope, or whichever form of cardio you choose, before or after your workout.
We will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each type of fitness goal and let you leave this article with an informed, educated opinion on whether or not you should do your jump rope workout before or after your strength workout.
So without further adieu, let’s get started!
What Does The Science Say?
Before I divulge my final opinion on whether or not it’s better to jump rope before or after you workout, let me explain the science and implications behind doing cardio.
Cardio May Affect Muscle Gains
The first thing to understand is the general principle that cardio will, in most cases, affect your muscle gains, meaning it has a tendency to limit the maximum amount of pure strength you can generate.
However, this isn’t always the case.
If you are timely and smart with the way you do cardio, you can not only prevent a lack of significant muscle gains, but you can actually increase your muscle gains by jumping rope.
Moderate Intensity, Longer Duration Cardio is Better for Weight Loss
Another scientific proof to keep in mind is that if your main goal is to lose weight, it is better to do longer duration jump rope workouts as opposed to a high intensity jump rope workout.
To put it another way, when you jump rope for thirty minutes to an hour at a slow pace, you burn far more calories than you do when you jump rope for ten minutes at a fast pace with high intensity jump rope exercises.
Sprinting Can Be Anabolic and Increase Muscle
Whereas longer duration cardio can lead to more weight loss, sprinting can actually have the opposite effect if worked into your workout regimen correctly.
Several studies in the past have suggested that sprinting is actually a form of an anabolic workout. This means that in many cases sprinting has lead to an increase in muscle size. So if your main goal is to get absolutely shredded, make sure to mix some sprints into your jump rope routine.
Long Duration Cardio Decreases Muscle Size
In many of the same studies that suggested longer duration jump rope workouts lead to an increase in weight loss rate, the scientific belief that longer duration cardio actually decreases muscle size has also been suggested.
If you think about it, this makes sense. If you are burning more fat while at the same time not making your muscles work real hard, it makes sense that you will naturally lose muscle mass in the process.
Understanding EPOC and How It Affects You Post Workout
EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, is the term used to describe how your body’s metabolism can continue to burn calories after your workout has ended.
Why is this important to understand? Because in essence, EPOC states that the more oxygen we require during a cardio exercise, the more we will continue to burn calories post workout.
Why Does The Science Matter?
On the surface, the science can seem slightly conflicting. On one hand, if you do longer duration jump rope workouts, you will burn more calories. However, EPOC states that higher intensity jump rope workouts will burn more calories for 48 hours after your workout than if you were to do lower intensity cardio workouts.
However, we will explain just how to make both scientific principles work in unison to deliver you the absolute best jump rope cardio session to go along with your strength workouts.
Now, how does this all tie in to whether or not you should jump rope before or after your workout? Simply put, what the science basically tells us is that jumping rope can have vastly different consequences depending on whether or not you jump rope before or after your workout.
So whether you jump rope before or after your workout is highly dependent upon the goals you’ve set for yourself.
The 4 Main Fitness Goals
While everyone's fitness goal is different and there are numerous reasons to get into shape, for the sake of this article we will highlight and discuss whether or not you should jump rope before or after your workout dependent upon the four most common fitness goals: weight loss, bodybuilding, athletic sports training and boxing/MMA training.
The first and most common fitness goal that we will look at is working out to lose or maintain weight. I would place a majority of people under this fitness goal. While weight loss is the primary focus of this fitness goal, people who are just simply concerned with their overall health are grouped into this category as well.
Through my research, it seems as if bodybuilders are the ones most concerned with whether or not they should jump rope before or after their workout - and understandably so. If you do cardio at the wrong time and in the wrong manner, it can be counterproductive to your overall fitness goal as your muscle size can actually begin to decrease.
Athletic Sports Training
It’s incredibly crucial for sports athletes to maintain a proper playing weight. At the same time, they are in need of cardio more than anyone else as they need a combination of endurance and strength more than anyone. This category includes any and all individual and team sports athletes who are striving to be in the best shape possible.
Boxing and MMA Training
Upon writing this article, I was forced with the question “are boxers and MMA fighters in the same category as sports athletes?” After heavy consideration, I determined they are in a league of their own when it comes to fitness goals. Fighters require an extremely low body fat percentage, and you will not find anyone more dependent upon meeting a weight goal than a fighter.
Now Let’s Answer The Question… Finally!
Now that we understand the science behind how jumping rope will affect our workouts, let’s come up with a solution to the original question: should I jump rope before or after my workout? Hopefully you didn’t just skip to this section, and you actually read the entire article. However if you did skim through the article thus far, this is the part you need to read.
All you have to do now is find the fitness goal that is right for you, read the advantages and disadvantages of both jumping rope before and after your workout, then make the decision that’s right for you.
Fitness Goal #1: Weight Loss
The ultimate goal here is to burn as many calories as you possibly can in a reasonable manner. This means you need to not only try and burn as many calories during your workout, but you should strive to utilize EPOC to help you burn calories for hours after your workout is over as well.
Let’s consider how jumping rope before your workout will affect your goal of burning the most amount of calories possible.
The main advantage of jumping rope before you workout when trying to lose weight is that you will have more energy while jumping rope. This is important because if you are trying to lose weight, cardio is arguably more of a priority than the workout itself. You will also have gotten it out of the way and won’t have to worry about being too tired and out of time by the end of your workout.
However, the main disadvantage of jumping rope before your workout is that you will decrease the effect EPOC will have on your body post workout. When you jump rope before your workout, you are full of energy, and therefore won’t be as tired as you would be if you were to jump rope after your workout.
So what about jumping rope after your workout? The main advantage here is that you will already have exhausted a lot of energy and will therefore be required to utilize more oxygen during your cardio session. This, in effect, will help you to increase EPOC and burn more calories after your workout is over.
The disadvantages, however, is that you will have to fight through fatigue much more than you would if you were to jump rope first, and you will have to make sure to allot enough time to jump rope after your strength workout is over.
With all that said, I would highly recommend that you jump rope after you workout if your primary goal is to lose weight.
While it can be beneficial to be full of energy when you jump rope, it is even more important to make sure you are being forced to take in oxygen during your workout if you are trying to lose weight. Also, regardless of whether or not you choose to jump rope before or after, be sure to do a longer duration, lower intensity jump rope session. As stated earlier, science suggests you burn more calories this way.
Also, I suggest adding a thirty second to a minute burnout session at the end of your jump rope workout to help you increase oxygen consumption even more. Here is a good jump rope workout for weight loss for you to check out.
Fitness Goal #2: Bodybuilding
A stark transition from the goal of weight loss, the main goal of bodybuilding is to increase muscle size and overall pure strength. The assumed intention with this fitness goal is to bulk up as much as possible and make everyone notice when you walk into a room.
So if you’re a bodybuilder, is it better to do cardio before or after your strength workout? Well, let’s take a look.
Jumping rope, or whichever form of cardio you choose, before your strength workout certainly has its advantages. For instance, when you jump rope before, you will follow your cardio by a strength workout, which will allow you to build your muscles after cardio and not before. If you were to do cardio after your workout, you may actually decrease your muscle size and limit the progress of your main goal and intention.
Also, by doing cardio before your workout, you will decrease your oxygen consumption as you will have a full tank of energy while you do cardio. This will actually allow you to burn less calories after your workout is over. As a bodybuilder, I would assume burning calories is not a priority for you as long as you maintain a healthy weight. On the flip side of that, however, you will have less energy available for the thing you care most about, which is bodybuilding.
Through research for this article, I have found that most bodybuilders do cardio after they workout, or at least they will try and get around to it that is. In other words, cardio with weightlifters is heavily undervalued.
The truth is cardio is extremely important for bodybuilding and doing cardio after your bodybuilding workout can actually be counter intuitive.
That’s why I highly recommend that you jump rope before your workout if your primary goal is to increase your muscle size and overall pure strength.
This allows you to build your muscles up after you burn calories from doing cardio. And actually, if you workout in the right manner, doing cardio will aid in helping you gain more muscle size and strength.
While jumping rope is a great form of cardio for bodybuilders, sprinting may actually be an even better form. Many studies have suggested that sprinting is a form of anabolic workout, meaning you gain muscle strength from it, so be sure to mix in sprints into whatever cardio exercise you choose to do.
Also, be sure to keep your cardio session short with plenty of rest built in between sets. Why, you ask? Because shorter duration cardio keeps you from losing muscle size and allowing for more rest will help you prevent EPOC from affecting you too much after your workout session has ended.
Fitness Goal #3: Athletic Sports Training
Athletes have unique fitness goals. Whereas those who workout to lose weight should care more about cardio than the workout itself and bodybuilders should care more about the workout than cardio, athletes need a good balance of both cardio endurance and muscle strength.
Therefore, it’s harder to give a definitive answer on whether or not you should jump rope before or after your workout with this fitness goal.
But with that said, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The main benefit that you can gain from jumping rope before your strength workout as it pertains to athletic performance is that it will help you to maintain a healthy playing weight.
When you do cardio after your strength workout, you are more susceptible to weight fluctuation as you will increase the effect EPOC will have on your body. This is because you are more energy deprived when you jump rope after your strength workout, and as a result will require more oxygen to make it through.
Also, jumping rope before will reduce the risk of muscle decline that cardio can sometimes cause. As mentioned previously, many studies suggest too much cardio can lead to a decline in muscle size and strength. However, if planned out correctly, you can avoid this from happening.
On the other hand, jumping rope before you workout can limit the quality of your strength training and by jumping rope after you workout you are sure to have a full energy level for strength training.
Also, another benefit of doing cardio after is that you will train your muscles to perform when tired in a different way than working out after cardio can. Jumping rope is a more comparable exercise to athletic activity than weight lifting is. Therefore by jumping rope afterwards is a better way to prepare for moments when you are tired on the playing field.
Despite the benefits that jumping rope after you workout can provide, it is, by narrow margin, better for sports specific athletes to jump rope before they workout.
This is because maintaining muscle size and managing your weight is crucial for athletes and jumping rope(doing cardio) before you workout helps you to do so the best. However, if your position is one that requires strength far more than cardiovascular endurance, then you should strongly consider jumping rope afterwards.
So what should your jump rope routine look like if you’re an athlete? Check out this jump rope workout for athletes for a specific workout, but the main thing is that you stay at a moderate intensity level and only provide yourself with as much rest as you need.
Fitness Goal #4: Boxing and MMA Training
The fitness goals for fighters are similar to the fitness goals for traditional sports athletes, however, they are more focused on meeting a certain weight and keeping their body fat composition low. Also, they are arguably the most reliant upon good cardiovascular endurance than anyone else as their sport is very demanding - not to mention they have to be pound for pound about as strong as a bodybuilder.
In other words, being a boxer or MMA fighter is extremely difficult, and they must stay extremely disciplined and have the perfect regimen in place to meet their fitness goals.
Included in having the perfect regimen is making the right choice on whether or not to jump rope before or after they workout. So let’s dig right into it and find out which is the preferred method.
The main benefit that you will get from jumping rope, or any other form of cardio, before your strength and boxing workout is that you will be able to reduce the possibility of a decline in muscle strength due to your cardio session. This is because you will be weight lifting and building your muscle strength after you do cardio, which is not the case if you were to jump rope after your workout.
On the other hand, jumping rope before you workout can cause you to limit your productivity level while strength training. Whereas if you were to jump rope after you workout, then you would have a higher energy level during your weightlifting session. Also, jumping rope after you workout can help boxers and MMA fighters increase the effect EPOC has on their body, which can be a good thing for fighters.
Just like for sports athletes, answering this question for boxers and MMA fighters isn’t all that simple.
I think the best strategy for boxers and MMA fighters is to jump rope both before and after their workout, but the majority of the cardio should come after your weightlifting session. By doing so, you are able to train your muscles to “provide a punch” when your body is tired, but at the same time you are able to still work on your cardio after you are low on energy, which increases the amount of oxygen you will need to make it through and help you to increase the effect EPOC will have on your body after your workout.
It’s also important to understand that almost everything a boxer and MMA fighter does to prepare is an aerobic exercise, so there is no need to kill yourself during your actual cardio sessions. Check out this jump rope workout for boxers for a specific cardio workout.
What’s Your Preference?
There you have it. We’ve given you our opinion, and yes unfortunately it is an opinion with no definitive answer, on whether or not you should jump rope before or after you workout. It’s an ongoing conversation, however, so be sure to weigh in by leaving a comment below and letting us know what your preference is.
Be sure to check out the rest of our workouts and blog posts, and if you need a jump rope, we got you covered.