Only fools pay for cardio

jump rope.jpg

Orange theory, F45, Insanity, HIIT…the list goes on. All of these “methods” are selling you something. They promise heart pumping workouts, and that is exactly what you get. The cardiovascular system is the only thing that really gets touched, which in some circles is the epitome of what it means to be healthy. The equipment costs thousands, THOUSANDS, per machine. Rowers, bikes, treadmills, you name it. These pieces of equipment are expensive. What do you get when you use expensive toys? A cheap body.

Cardio has always been and will always be a hot topic. People believe this is the reason they can’t lose weight. They don’t do “enough” cardio. My personal experience has been that cardio is the last thing they need to work on. Usually, in order of importance, these people need

  1. Strength (Develop a chin-up, learn basic weightlifting, etc.)

  2. Lifestyle (More walking, basic activity during the day, less Netflix bingeing)

  3. Diet (Tying into lifestyle, do they cook for themselves, what do they cook with, whats their relationship with food)

  4. Skills (Using their strength to now learn more complex patterns.)

For some reason however, people feel the need to hand their credit card info over to an overly peppy instructor who is trained specifically to encourage and smile. Nothing wrong with that, I just don’t want to pay for a Ferrari and drive a Honda.

So, back to the machines. An assault bike is a great tool, so is a rower, and so is any other piece you can come up with. HOWEVER, these are expensive machines and if used correctly do not need to be used more than 2x/week. I would like to provide an alternative, a much cheaper and higher value alternative that will not only develop your cardiovascular system, but your coordination, elasticity, rhythm, footwork, timing, and more. Can you guess?

Jump rope.

A good jump rope will cost you $30, and should last, well, forever. Most people I know cannot jump rope, yet act like cardio is their main issue. Let us be clear, if you walk 30-60 minutes every day, you are getting good cardio work, and more than the average american (not saying much).

Unfortunately, these expensive machines mentioned before also have little to no carryover whatsoever to any other activities, and are extremely specific. You get better at biking by biking, rowing by rowing, and ellipticaling (is that a word?) by you guess it. Jumping rope however, provides benefits that can transfer to MANY activities, making it as my teacher calls it, a “meta-skill”. Boxing, jiu-jitsu, dancing, basketball, football, running, etc. These will all improve as a result of lighter feet.

So, hopefully I have you convinced, as the benefits are clear. Jumping rope is…

  1. Cheaper (much cheaper)

  2. More general and thus carries over into many other tasks

  3. More effective at developing many systems in addition to cardio

  4. Develops the elasticity to keep you “young”

  5. Extremely portable, and will last forever

I want to provide a few workouts for you guys to try for yourself. Try for 2x/week for a month and see how your body responds. Use it as a warm-up or full on workout, but go easy at first and start conservatively, your lower legs will thank you!


  • Perform basic jump rope in place for 60 seconds on / 60 seconds off

  • Repeat for up to 10 rounds – or until you cannot recover in time

  • Start light 3-5 rounds


  • Perform basic jump rope in place for 90 second on / 30 seconds off

  • Repeat for up to 10 rounds – or until you cannot recover in time

  • Start light 3-5 rounds


  • Perform jump rope in place for 2 minutes on / 30 seconds off

  • Mix in double unders, 1 leg, crossing patterns, and more. Dance with the rope. Be relaxed, put some music on. Keep going and stay LIGHT!

  • Repeat for 5-10 rounds

  • Start light

Bonus session

  • Perform a tabata style (20 seconds on / 10 seconds off) x 8 rounds

  • During the work perform double unders or speed up the pace

  • During the rest perform single jumps or slow down the pace

In closing, I want to make clear that challenging the cardiovascular system is an extremely rewarding endeavor, and should be pursued by anyone for general health. Having said that, cardiovascular effects can be achieved with any activity, which CrossFit has demonstrated well over the years. Develop strength and skill and you can use more complex patterns over time to simultaneously train your strength, coordination, mobility, and more. After all, that is what teachers are there for.

I hope you try and enjoy these simple workouts, and remember, only fools pay for cardio.




4 thoughts on “Only fools pay for cardio”

  1. — Jumping rope’s where "stay on the balls of your feet" FINALLY clicked for me haha —

    Jumping bare foot (or with Feiyue "minimalist" shoes) also helps with developing light-footed-ness. The sting of the rope upon barefeet "learns ya real quick" …

    "I just don’t want to pay for a Ferrari and drive a Honda." – well said 🙂

    1. I definitely agree Magnus. That light footed-ness is such a great skill to have keeping you young and athletic. I have definitely seem how it has helped you move!

  2. An additional benefit of jumping rope – it classifies as "rebounding," a type of movement that stimulates the lymphatic system! So you are helping with lymphatic drainage (detox) as well as increasing bone mass (rebounders were used by NASA to help astronauts recover from bone/muscle mass loss after spending time in space).

    1. Great addition Nicole. Just another benefit to add to jumping rope. I have heard of this about NASA as well but didn’t even think of it when I wrote this. Fascinating stuff. I believe the ability to rebound / jump tells a lot about your current ability level/health.