We probably all had a go at jumping rope when we were children, but have you thought about incorporating it into your current fitness routine?
People may shy away from jumping rope because of its high fitness demands, but like any exercise, if approached with the right attitude, it will add a great new cardiovascular option to your workout.
The best feature of jumping rope is its accessibility. All you need is a rope and a small area. Like all first endeavors, you may find yourself wanting to walk away after getting tangled in your rope umpteen times and gasping for air. Persistence and practice is the key!
Give yourself some focus and motivation. Create a 15-minute play list of music that gets you moving. Start by skipping over the rope one foot at a time just as you did as a kid. This is a nice and easy way to start.
Practice for two to three minutes to warm up and to establish a consistent pace. Change the leg that you lead with after 30 seconds of skipping on each leg.
You can progress to the next level by jumping with both feet hitting the floor at the same time. This requires more physical demands on the body, so aim to jump for 30 seconds to 1 minute; then do some push-ups or sits-ups between each jumping set. Cycle this pattern a few times and you will be surprised at how fast the 15 minutes fly by.
Your wrists should be responsible for moving the rope, not your elbows or shoulders. Your arms should stay close to your body as you rotate the rope from your wrists. Keep your knees a little bent to prevent any jarring impact on your knees.
Jumping rope is definitely a high-intensity and high-impact activity, so warming up is very important to prevent injuries. Your shins may feel strained and tight when you start out. If you experience this, stop skipping and tap your toes on the floor one foot at a time to loosen up the tendons along your shin. Good supportive shoes will help as well.
As your technique and fitness improve, start to shuffle from one foot to the other and move the rope a little more quickly. You can lift your knees up to your chest as you jump, skip side to side keeping both feet together, or scissor your legs and flick your feet back toward your heels.
It is also fun to play around with double-dutch: turning the rope twice around your body before your feet touch the floor and crisscrossing the rope. If you choose to try this move, watch out because you may get a few slaps across the back from the rope before you become successful at the crisscross trick.
Extend your playlist to 30 minutes and use the skipping variations with intervals of push-ups, squats, and sit-ups to create different sequences.
Skipping for 30 minutes continuously can burn up to 500 calories, depending on your weight and fitness level. It is by far one of the most effective ways to burn fat and improve your fitness.
You will find yourself in fantastic shape if you work this into your fitness sessions. Aim to jump rope two to three times per week for the best fat-burning results!
Emma-Kate Stampton is a personal trainer and Pilates teacher. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.