If you were asked to name 10 activities you can do to get in shape, I am betting that rope jumping would be unlikely to feature on that list.
(Ok, if it would be on your list, kudos for being in the know!)
Rope jumping as an activity is a massively underestimated and under-used – by the general public, at least. Since the only equipment you need is a decent rope, it is super-portable, so can be done anywhere – at home, at a gym or even in a hotel room (if the ceilings are high enough) – and can be used as a stand-alone workout or as part of a bigger workout.
Boxers use the jump rope as a core part of their cardio fitness. Why? Simply because it’s BRILLIANT for cardio fitness, proprioception, strength and agility.
On top of that, you can burn 1,000 calories an hour with a jump rope workout, which is WAAAAY up there on the list of best calorie-burning activities.
Many fitness experts would argue that the jump rope is possibly the best all-around piece of exercise equipment that you can own and I would not disagree.
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How To Get Started
First things first – you’re gonna need a rope. But what’s the best kind of rope to use?
Well, the ones your kids use with Anna and Elsa or Paw Patrol on the handles won’t do, I’m afraid. They’re too light and unlikely to be long enough.
The best ropes are not actually made of rope at all, but heavy plastic or even better, leather (like this one), which are easier to control and spin faster. Also, if you are training outside, they don’t get blown around by the wind.
The length of the rope needs to be right for your height, so make sure you adjust it correctly. The easiest way to do this is to stand on the middle of the rope with both feet together and make sure the handles can reach your armpits. If it’s too long, open one handle, cut down the rope slightly and and re-knot.
If only a small adjustment is needed or you’re sharing your rope with someone else that is s different height to you, simply tie additional knots in the rope just above the handle. That way the other person can easily re-adjust for themselves.
How To Jump
Ok, down to the nitty gritty. How to jump?
Well, firstly, forget thoughts of the skipping you used to do back in junior school. Think more, Rocky Balboa in training!
Or maybe somewhere in between if that looks to be a bit too hard core.
(I tend to skip the chicken-chasing myself.)
Hold the handles at waist height at kind of 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions and you then revolve the rope using your wrists, rather than your shoulders.
Below are the different ways you can jump.
Forward Jump Two-footed
This is the most basic jump jump. With both feet together or slightly apart, swing the rope forward over and jump with both feet on each revolution.
TIP: remember that the rope is very thin, so you might be surprised that you don’t actually need to jump very high to clear it. This will enable you to go for much longer and with reduce the impact.
Forward jump alternate feet (side-to-side)
This is the typical boxer-style rope jumping. Each time the rope revolves, alternate left to right, so that you are effectively jumping side to side.
Single leg jump
You are basically hopping on one leg. You won’t be able to maintain this for a long time, so integrate 5 or 10 hops on each leg within the overall session.
This is like stepping through the rope, but with each step, you use an exaggerated knee lift so that the thigh is at 90 degrees to the waist/body.
Double leg jump, bring knees to chest. This is high impact and requires good control of the rope. If you have difficultly, it is sometimes better to start by doing alternate tuck jumps and two-footed jumps.
Double rope swing
This requires a much faster swing of the rope and a much higher jump. Good timing is needed and short bursts of 5-10 double rope swings will increase the intensity of the workout.
Cross arms jump
This always looks pretty impressive, but it is not actually that hard to learn. You simply cross your arms before you jump, so that the your left and right hand swap positions.
Different Workout Options
There are a lot of different workouts you can do and you can make it like one continuous aerobic workout or more like a circuit session with some anaerobic stuff in there too.
Ideally, you want to use a semi-sprung floor or hard mat, but you can easily do this workouts on concrete, indoors on a carpeted floor or even on short-cut grass.
Rope jumping sessions are a great complementary workout if you train in other sports. Runners, cyclist, swimmers, martial artists – in fact anyone who wants a decent aerobic workout – can use a rope jumping session as a nice alternative to your normal routine and you can adapt the workout to suit your needs. You can go for slow and steady for an hour or more, or break it up into a kind of interval session.
Before starting any rope jumping workout, make sure you warm up and stretch ankles, calves, achilles, etc.
Start with some light rope jumping. Then move into the main session. How you structure the session depends on your goals and your level of fitness.
For and endurance/aerobic workout, you can do a continuous steady workout. Back in the day, I used to do alternate feet for an hour or so in my room while listening to a favourite album. You can just lose yourself in the rope jumping and the session is over before youknow it. If you get bored, you can mix it up with some intermittent bursts of double leg jumps, high knees and tuck jumps.
Long rope jumping sessions are not for everyone, so if you want something shorter and highr intensity, you should try doing intervals. For example, sets of one minute hard with 2-3 minutes rest or slow. There are all kinds of ways you can mix it up, depending on your fitness level and goals.
You can even use a Tabata-style session.
Related ~ Ultimate Fat-Burning Workouts: Tabata
For some great workout ideas, check out the Jump Rope Dudes channel on YouTube.
If you want to see a truly impressive display of how good you can get at rope jumping, check out this clip of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Rope jumping should definitely not be relegated to the junior school playground and you should incoporate it into your exercise regimen where you can.
If you are new to exercise, always consult with a physician and get checked out before getting started.