How To Size A Jump Rope For Crossfit

Your jump rope for CrossFit must allow for enough clearance over your head and under your feet when you jump. Its ideal length equals your height plus 3 feet. For example, if your height is 5’ 10” or 70 inches, you can add 3 feet to that to get an ideal rope length of 8’ 10” or 106 inches.

This length only goes from one end of the cable to the next. It does not include the rope handles, which should be sized to comfortably fit your hands.

Sizing A Jump Rope

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Choosing a jump rope of the right size can make the difference between struggling with performance in a CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day) or completing all your reps efficiently and quickly. You can size this common piece of equipment in the following ways.

Custom Length

The most convenient way of customizing the length of a jump rope is to specify the size when you order it, which some vendors allow you to do. Your jump rope arrives ready to use, which spares you the hassle of cutting cable.

To figure out the right size, add 3 feet to your height.

  • For example, if your height is 5’ 6” or 66 inches, the ideal size of your jump rope is 8’ 6” or 102 inches.
  • If your height is 6’ 2” or 74 inches, your jump rope should measure 9’ 2” or 110 inches long.

Check out this chart for more detailed measurement information.

Ready-Made

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If you’re buying a ready-made rope, such as at a sporting goods store, you can only pick from fixed sizes. In that case, use this handy list, which shows the rope length on the left and the recommended height on the right. As mentioned previously, the length refers to the cable itself without the handles.

  • 7 feet: 4’ – 4’ 10”
  • 8 feet: 4’ 11” – 5’ 4”
  • 9 feet: 5’ 5” – 5’ 11”
  • 10 feet: 6’ – 6’ 4”
  • 11 feet: 6’ 5” and over

At The Box

When I travel, I typically only bring a hand-carry. Due to lack of space, I typically never pack a jump rope with me. And yet, I always make time for CrossFit by visiting a box at my destination.

  • If I’m lucky, the jump ropes there will be organized by length and color with a chart showing what color to pick for my height.
  • If I’m not, I pick the right rope by stepping on the center of the rope with one foot. I then make the rope taught by pulling up on each handle with each hand. If the cable end (and not the handle end), reaches my armpit or is about an inch lower, then it’s the right length.

Adjustable Ropes

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Most of the jump ropes that you’ll find at sporting goods stores or at online retailers are adjustable. They come only in one length and it’s up to you to size them to your specifications.

  • The advantage of buying them is that you can adjust them according to your specifications and even shorten them as your proficiency with jump ropes increases.
  • The disadvantages are the hassle involved in making the adjustments and that the adjustment may degrade as you keep using the jump rope.

Adjustments vary by the type of rope and is usually detailed in the package of the rope. If there are no instructions, here are a couple of the most common adjustment methods.

Screw Adjusters

To adjust ropes with screw adjusters, do the following:

  1. Loosen the screw at the top of the handle.
  2. Slip the cable through the opening until you have the right cable length.
  3. Tighten the screw to hold the cable in place.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 for the other handle.
  5. Check that the jump rope is at the correct length. Try jumping with it to verify. If it’s not at the correct length, go back to step 1.
  6. Use cable cutters to snip off the excess wire. Seal the ends of the cable with the small cap to prevent the wire from fraying.

Adjustment Clips

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If your jump rope has an adjustment clip that is stored in the handle, do the following:

  1. Take the cap from the handle.
  2. Slip the cable through the bottom of the handle.
  3. Loosen the adjuster.
  4. Move the adjuster to the place you want on the jump rope.
  5. Tighten the adjuster.
  6. Snip off any excess cable. Put back the cover.
  7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 for the other handle.

Weighty Question

You won’t have much control over the weight of a jump rope if you buy it ready-made or use one from your box. But if you get one that’s custom made, you may be able to specify the weight of the cable minus the handles:

  • If you’re a beginner who does mostly single unders, go for a cable weighing 3 or 4 ounces. This weight gives you enough feedback on your rotations while preventing fatigue on your forearms and shoulders.
  • If you’re proficient at double unders, go for a lighter weight at 1 or 2 ounces. You’ll be able to spin the rope faster and more efficiently.
  • If you’re an advanced jumper who is looking for a good pump, try heavier cables at 8 or 12 ounces, or at a full pound. These heavier-weight cables provide an intense workout.

Double Unders

When I try to use my properly sized jump rope for double unders, it seems to be too long. It takes too much time to travel from the top to under my feet, so I end up stepping on the cable or stumbling. I then overcompensate by jumping too high or bending my knees to get the rope to clear my feet. This result is that I tire more easily than I should.

Standard ropes seem to fly at one to three feet over people’s heads. It turns out that for the most efficient double unders, the rope should only go from 4 to 10 inches over your head when you jump, depending on your proficiency.

The only practical way to estimate the right length for double unders is to have a fellow CrossFitter take a video or picture of your rope jumps. You can then check the image to estimate by how much to shorten the rope for use with double unders. Adjust the rope in small increments, so you can go back if you make a mistake.

An adjustable jump rope has an advantage here because you can manage the length of the cable depending on whether you have a single or double under WOD.

If you prefer custom-length ropes to the ones at your box, you might consider having two jump ropes made for convenience: one for singles and another for double-unders.

Speed Ropes

Speed ropes are designed for fast turns so you can accumulate as many revolutions as possible in specific intervals, such as 30 seconds, one minute, three minutes, or more. You typically alternate a foot with each revolution, so you look like you’re running in place.

Such ropes are lightweight with cables weighing about an ounce. Handles are made of plastic or aerospace-grade aluminum with precision bearings within the handle.

Because of their low resistance, speed ropes do not provide as much exertion as a regular jump rope. However, they do enhance agility and timing and will speed up your jumps for double unders. They require plenty of skill to use properly.

Tim Rollins, Editor

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