Jump rope is the perfect tool for getting in a HIIT workout without putting too much thought into it. You can put your brain on autopilot, turn your timer on and just jump.
I’m going to walk you through exactly what a HIIT workout is. Then I’ll explain how to set up a HIIT workout using a jump rope alone. If you don’t want to just jump rope I’ll give you some other suggestions for things that you can add in using other free tools (your body).
What is a HIIT Workout?
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. You’re probably seeing this phrase everywhere and there’s a reason. It’s not a workout that takes an hour at the gym. It’s a workout that is fast and effective.
When you do a HIIT workout you cycle through high and low intervals. During the high intervals the goal is to work out to your maximum. This isn’t one of those workouts that you want to be able to carry on a conversation. You get out of breath and if you don’t, you aren’t doing it right.
What You Need to Know BEFORE Doing a HIIT Workout
The easiest way to set up a HIIT workout is to use a timer or an interval app. An essential part of a HIIT workout is knowing how hard you are working. For that, you need a heart rate monitor.
If you’re hones with yourself I bet YOU KNOW that sometimes you phone it in when you exercise. Then other times you kill it. Since I started using a heart rate monitor and once I did I won’t work out without it. With a monitor I can not only feel when I’m working out hard and when I’m not, I can see it in black and white. It takes all the guess work out of your work out.
How to set up your intervals depends on your body and your level of fitness. If you are just starting to workout you need to set up a shorter intervals and longer rest periods. As you get more fit, you lengthen the high intervals and maybe even shorten the resting periods.
If you don’t have a heart rate monitor it’s much harder to know if you’re doing it right. The “right way to get the most out of a HIIT workout is to get into your “fat burning” heart rate zone with each interval, if that’s your goal. If your goal is to gain fitness vs burn fat, you need to exercise until you reach that level.
If you read something that says “exercise for x seconds and then rest for x seconds”, ignore that. It depends on your body and how hard you are working during that 60 seconds. I’m going to give you an example with my body and you fill in your own numbers.
I was NOT a regular intense exerciser. I liked to walk with friends. This is great way to get movement in, but it wasn’t making me more fit, which was my goal. You have to know your goals. If getting more fit is one, HIIT workouts are a great way to get there without long workouts.
How to Set Up a HIIT Workout That Works For YOU
You want a workout that is right for your level of fitness, see how I did it. As a non-exerciser I have really noticed an increase in my endurance and fitness. I wasn’t as fit in my twenties as I am in my fifties. Here’s what I did for a year.
- Step 1 – Get a heart rate monitor and download a monitoring app. I use the Polar app and with a Wahoo heart rate monitor, but there are many choices out there. Get the two to work with each other.
- Step 2 – The app should require you to put in your age, which it will use to calculate your heart rate zones. Here’s an example of what that looks like. Polar has a really cool sliding scale where you can see your heart rate zones by entering your age. Polar tells me the time in the red zone is time where I’m increasing my fitness level and the time in the yellow zone is where I’m burning fat.
- Step 3 – Perform a trial 5 minute HIIT workout to get your baseline. Set up intervals at 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off for 5 minutes. Jump as hard with the jump rope as you can for the high intervals.
- Step 4 – Study your heart rate after this baseline. The target heart rate for a HIIT workout is 80-95% of your maximum heart rate. (The app will calculate this for you based on your age). You CAN adjust your maximum heart rate once you start to learn what your body can do.
- Step 5 – Adjust as your fitness changes. If you see that you aren’t getting your heart rate into this range during your high interval, you need to work harder. Over time if you continue to do this king of workout you WILL see that what you are doing gets easier and you need to change your intervals. You can make it harder by lengthening the high intervals and by shortening the recovery intervals.
I’ll use myself as an example. My maximum heart rate is 180. When I’m doing my intervals that means I should be getting my heart rate up to 144-171 during my high intensity period.
How to Build Intervals
The chart below will give you an idea of how I started building my intervals. You use the feedback from your hear rate monitor to know when it’s time to move to the next level. The next level can be achieved in any of 4 ways: 1.) longer high interval, 2.) a shorter recovery interval, 3.) more intervals and 4.) harder intervals (like using weighted jump ropes).
|Number of intervals||High Interval||Recovery Interval|
|1||5 minutes||30 sec||30 sec|
|2||5 minutes||40 sec||30 sec|
|3||5 minutes||50 sec||30 sec|
|4||5 minutes||60 sec||30 sec|
|5||6 minutes||60 sec||30 sec|
|6||7 minutes||60 sec||30 sec|
|etc keep building|
What Exercises to Include In Your HIIT
I’ve experimented with all kinds of different exercises. The short answer is you can include any exercise you want. I’ve found that I can get the heart rate targets I’m going for with JUST jumping rope.
If you prefer a mix of excercises you can add in jumping jacks, squats, lunges, pushups, burpees 🥲. Basically, anything where you get your heart going works AS LONG as you do it with proper form. I like jumping rope because it’s hard to do wrong, even if you miss a jump.
You can read more about HIIT training heart rate targets in this article.