There's no question that jumping rope is one of the best cardiovascular workouts for weight loss or sports performance, but it can get kind of confusing when you start out, especially when it comes to choosing between Speed Ropes and Leather Ropes. The truth is that either of these ropes will help you get in shape and meet your goals, regardless of what they are. But knowing the subtle differences between the two should make things a little more clear.

Speed Ropes Vs. Leather Ropes: What's The Difference?

Aside from the obvious materials used in their construction (leather vs polymer plastic), the biggest differences between the two are associated with the kind of workout they'll give you. They each have their "special thing" that makes one situationally better than the other, depending on what you're going for.

Leather Jump Ropes

Everlast Weighted Leather Jump RopeCredit: AmazonLeather ropes, like this one from Everlast that's shown in the photo, are heavier and less aerodynamic than their speed rope cousins. As a result, it takes considerably more effort to churn it around your body, and through the air in general. This drag, or resistance, has the same overall effect that any resistance would: It forces you to get stronger. Plus, since you're firing quite a few muscles just to keep one of these beasts moving, you'll get quite the caloric burn, meaning you'll lose more weight or dump some extra body fat.

You can actually buy leather jump ropes with additional weight added into it, these are called "weighted ropes" or "weighted jump ropes," depending on who you're talking to. The extra weight further intensifies the amount of effort needed on your part to swing them through the air, over your head and under your feet.

The advantages of either a weighted or non-weighted leather jump rope are obvious: Resistance. And in the fitness world, resistance is our friend. It's what makes us stronger, burns more calories, increases our stamina and forces us to focus (swinging one of these around while your head isn't in the game won't work, you need good concentration, this isn't a school playground jump rope).

It's sure starting to sound like a leather rope is the best kind of jump rope, right?

Not so fast.

Depending on your training, all of the aforementioned advantages of a leather jump rope could actually become disadvantages. Let's say that you're wanting to work on quick footwork or wanting a long workout, the weight of the leather will actually make this one the wrong choice. You can't really zip these things around like you can a speed rope, so if you're working on agility or deep stamina, you won't get it from this. At least not before your wrists, arms, shoulders and other joints start wearing out.

Also worth noting is that leather isn't as durable as the plastic used in most speed ropes. I know it sounds crazy, because normally leather outlasts everything else. But in this instance leather will wear out faster, meaning you'll need to buy new jump rope eventually.

Speed Ropes

Valeo Speed Rope Jump RopeCredit: AmazonSpeed ropes, like the one shown in the photo, are about as far opposite from leather ropes as you can get. They're light, fast and easy to spin. They're usually made out of plastic (or some kind of crazy polymer like plastic) and weigh in at a mere fraction of a leather rope. The handles are also made of plastic or wrapped with a foam grip.

You know how I said that "weight" is the variable that people look for in a leather rope by choosing between weighted and un-weighted? The exact OPPOSITE is true for a speed rope. Speed is king with these one, so the working variable becomes "light weight." The lighter the rope, the easier it moves. The easier it moves, the longer you can keep working at it.

Footwork and endurance sessions are the name of the game when it comes to using a speed rope. You're certainly not getting much in the way of resistance, so trainers use that to their advantage. Have you ever been in a boxing gym (or at least seen on in one of the "Rocky" movies) when guys are hopping from one foot to another while zig zagging a jump rope? They're using speed ropes.

If you're a boxer, fighter, or other type of athlete who depends on quick footwork and long stamina, a speed rope is your best friend. Or if you're just getting started with a jump rope, then this would be the way to go. Of course there's no reason not to use both of them in your training, that way you can get the benefits of both.

How Much Do These Jump Ropes Cost?

Another advantage of a good speed rope is that they are super cheap. Last time I checked, the Valeo Speed Rope that I used as an illustration above costs somewhere between $7 and $8 at Amazon. I'm sure you could find a similar one in your local sporting goods store or even a department store like Wal-Mart or K-Mart for not too much more.

Leather ropes are a bit more expensive primarily because of the cost of materials. Leather costs more than plastic. The Everlast weighted leather jump rope that I used as the other illustration costs between $16 and $27 (depending on the length) at Amazon. Expect to pay a buck or two less for the non-weighted version. Unlike speed ropes, these are typically harder to find at the average department stores, so you'll probably want to head straight to a sporting goods store, or if you've got a day or two to wait by the mail, you could save yourself a few bucks and order through Amazon.

In Conclusion

Jump Rope WorkoutCredit: Amazon.comWhen it comes to the type of jump rope you use, there is no "wrong" choice, only the wrong application. Hopefully by now you see the pros and cons of both of them, and now it will be easier to get back to your training.

Speaking of training, if this isn't obvious already, jumping rope is a great way to get in shape for nearly any sport, and it's even better if you're just trying to lose weight. I could go on and on about the fat loss physiology associated with skipping rope, but the ultimate display of awesomeness would be to go out and try it for yourself. If you're not accustomed to skipping or jumping, you'll probably be surprised at how difficult it actually is. That's a good thing! Keep at it and pretty soon you'll be skipping rope like a prize fighting boxer.

Now that you can answer for yourself the age-old riddle of a speed rope vs leather rope, you can get out there and get to work!