I remember as a kid playing jump rope by myself or double dutch with the others kids either around the neighborhood or at school. It was so much fun and little did I know I was getting such a great workout. But again, as kids, we would run, walk and ride bikes all over town (I mean miles and miles of play a day).
Fast forward several decades…..a few years ago I decided I would incorporate jumping rope into my cardio program. I remember the first time I tried to jump steady for 5 minutes. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest! I mean who knew that it would have my heart working as hard as if I were doing interval sprints on the treadmill at 10 mph with my short legs???!!!
Over time I found I was finally able to adjust and catch my breath while jumping rope and eventually built my way up to jumping steady for 20 minutes (not barring tripping over the jump rope every now and again). My jump rope workout typically consists of jumping for as steady as I can error free for 5 minutes. Rest 1 minute and then recommence jumping for another 5 minutes, rest 1 minute and repeat this until 24 minutes have passed. Surprising to me, it is easy on my legs and knees and doesn’t leave me limping like the treadmill can if I stay on it longer than 40 minutes regardless of speed.
I also learned other benefits from jumping rope such as:
1. building agility
2. building coordination
3. improving cardio
4. improve reflexes
And a plethora of other good benefits. I also have some lessons learned when it comes to jumping rope and jump ropes period:
1. If you jump outside on the pavement you greatly shorten the life of your rope because the constant friction with the pavement degrades the rope and it will snap.
2. Don’t try to be a power house first time out the gate…you will feel like you need to pass out. Start slow and work your way up.
3. If you aren’t used to jumping rope your arms may get fatigued.
4. Primarily use your wrist to rotate the rope not your entire arm.
Equipped with these lessons learned you should be on your way. Now there are several techniques I employ while jumping to increase the challenge and to get the best and varied workout I can.
Basic jump – I start off with this as a warm up. Slow and steady and jump over the rope with both feet together.
Alternating skip – I switch from leg to leg in a pattern so I am never on both feet at once.
High knees – I turn the rope as fast as I can and bring alternating knees up as high as I can.
Front/back shuffle – I will shuffle my feet switching front to back as if on skis.
Jumping jacks – I will move my feet as you would jumping jacks.
Arm cross – This is a tricky one. I will cross arms while turning the rope and jump. Be careful b/c you typically have to bring your feet up really high to clear the rope. Not for amateurs.
One leg hop – I hop on a single leg for 20 or 30 seconds and then switch to hop on the opposite single leg.
I have tried many brands of jump ropes to plastic, cloth and everything in between. My favorite rope thus far has been the one from Ultimate Body Press which was recommended by Zuzana of Bodyrock.tv. When you first get it you have to soak it in warm water and hang it on something so it doesn’t kink up while jumping or when you put it down. The length is adjustable and it is pretty durable.
The other rope I really liked was made of similar material as the one from Ultimate Body Press BUT it had a counter in the handle that you could easily reset workout to workout if you have a rotation goal such as (120 jumps in 1 minute, etc.). Unfortunately it met an untimely death because I primarily jumped outside with it and it eventually thinned out and snapped! So SAD!
One of my favorite fitness celebrities – Jennifer Nicole Lee demonstrates in her video how to jump rope! She has some very nice foot work. ENJOY!
So what are you waiting for? Turn on your Rocky music and gets to JUMPING! You won’t regret it!