Sure, you’re grown and haven’t been on the playground for years. But jumping rope is not just for the playground. This high-intensity exercise builds aerobic and anaerobic capacity just as well as sprinting does. Plus, it’s an incredibly versatile form of exercise that you can do almost anywhere— in the gym, at home or on the field— and the equipment costs are minimal. For about $10, you can buy a championship quality jump rope that will build shapely legs and cut fat at the same time!
Some Benefits of Jumping Rope
• It’s the best plyometric exercise. Plyometric exercises involve the loading and stretching of the muscles, followed by a sudden muscle contraction. Plyometrics makes the muscles strong and fast and prepares them for other sports, such as tennis, skiing, snowboarding or walking up stairs with more power.
• Builds strong bones. Research shows that there are few forms of exercise better for building and preserving bone than jumping rope. Women achieve peak bone mass when they reach 20-25 years of age. After that, they lose a little bone each year. Rope jumping strengthens bones in the spine and lower leg that are easily fractured when you get older, and regularly develops strong bones that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
• Gets you in shape faster. If you go slower while jumping rope, you will still push yourself harder than when you jog with a friend. Scientists have found that you push yourself harder jumping rope than you do jumping in place or jogging because you’re concentrating on a skill— you don’t notice the pain. So you will get into shape faster than you ever could running, swimming or cycling.
• It’s a potent fat burner. Canadian studies showed that exercising intensely helps people cut fat better than exercising slowly.
• Burns extra calories throughout the day. Rope skipping turns on your sympathetic nervous system— the fight or flight system— which makes you burn extra calories during the day.
• It’s a well-rounded form of exercise. Jump roping results in improved coordination, better timing and rhythm, and improved balance and agility.
• It’s a leg-shaping exercise. Jump roping will make your legs strong, powerful and shapely.
• Elevated heart rate. You can easily push your heart rate to its maximum if you turn the rope as fast as you can.
• It’s a simple, low-maintenance activity!
All you need is a good pair of shoes, a rope and a place to jump. Choose shoes that absorb shock, such as cross-trainers or aerobic shoes that provide stability and cushioning under the balls of your feet. Running shoes are not appropriate because they have poor lateral support.
Buy a rope that fits you— one that can move easily around your head and body. A rope that’s too long or too short will prevent fluid movements. The rope is the right length when you can stand in the middle of it and lift both ends up to your armpits. The rope should turn easily in your hands and not bunch up around the handles.
You can jump rope almost anywhere. Choose a well-lit area and a flat surface that isn’t too hard. Avoid hard concrete surfaces. Instead, choose a springy wooden floor (gymnasium), artificial turf, or carpeted surface. Do not jump on a mat that can slip or you might get hurt badly.
• Maintain good posture. Jumping rope is a high-impact activity, so you must maintain a good posture to protect your knees, hips, back and neck.
• Look straight ahead and keep your waist and back straight.
• Hold your elbows low and bent at 90-degree angles.
• Swing the rope using your wrists and skip on the balls of your feet rhythmically.
• Keep your knees bent so that you don’t shock your knee joints when you jump.
Warm up before jumping rope: The best way to warm up is to do whole-body movements at low-intensities, such as running in place, jumping jacks and hopping. Most experts do not recommend using stretching as a pre-exercise warm-up because it decreases muscle strength and makes the muscle oversensitive.
Beginners: Start with a single side swing. Hold both handles in your right hand and swing the rope around. Jump off the ground slightly as the rope hits the ground at your side during each swing. After you get the rhythm— or get your muscle memory back from when you were a girl on the playground— grasp a handle in each hand and swing the rope over your head and jump as the rope strikes the ground. Keep your feet close together and practice this basic technique until you can do at least 30-50 turns without a miss.
More Advanced Techniques: Cross the rope in front of you just before you jump. Make sure to cross your arms enough so that you have plenty of room to jump between the ropes. A more difficult technique is to cross the rope in back of you. The next basic technique is the double spin— turn the rope twice for one jump.
After you master the basics, work on your footwork: First, move your feet so that they open and close. Then, jump using one foot and then the other. More advanced foot movements involve twisting to the right and then to the left. High-stepping is an excellent technique that will develop the muscles in your thighs and hips. Use a running motion while jumping rope— lifting your knees as high as possible in between turns of the rope.
If you have rope jumping friends, you can skip rope like you did on the playground— two or three at a time. For double jumping, hold one handle with your right hand while your partner holds the rope with her left hand. Start off slowly and then progress to more advanced techniques.
Interval Training for Rope Jumping
Interval training involves short bouts of high-intensity exercise followed by rest. Turn on some music with a good rhythm that inspires you.
• Begin by jumping rope for 15-30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds.
• Turn the rope slowly at first— about 120 turns per minute. As you become more skilled and fit, build up to 140-160 turns per minute and extend the time of each interval.
• A good workout to shoot for is 20 sets of one-minute rope jumping with one-minute rest between sets. Start off slowly and build up.
• You can also use a heart rate monitor to gauge exercise intensity. Try to push your heart rate to about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can get a rough estimate of your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
So, go back to your youth and resurrect an exercise you should never have stopped doing. It will improve fitness, give you more shapely legs, cut fat and build bone.
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