No, jumping rope [or skipping, as some call it] isn't only for little girls. If you've watched any movie about boxing, or have ever walked into a boxing gym, you'll know it's a staple in a boxer's conditioning programme. It's also what ended my cardio plateau.
Here's what happened.
After years of running and jogging 3-4 times a week, boredom and fatigue set it. I needed change. Either that or give up cardio altogether and just train with weights, which I would've been fine with in my 20s.
Priorities change. In my 20s, working out was mostly about vanity. Now it's all about feeling good – keeping the heart healthy, steering clear of back/hip pain; looking good is a by-product.
I wasn't about to join a gym to use the cross-trainers, however [won't even consider stationary bikes; hate those]. Nothing against gyms, but I like fresh air during my cardio time. Also, not about to change the title of this column to “Don't Skip the Gym…Get Fit”.
While doing some soul-searching, I came across jumping rope and claims that it's much more efficient at burning calories than running. So I decided to try it out.
After a month of jumping rope, I'm glad that I decided to give it a shot and can confidently vouch that it is indeed better than running on several grounds, besides being more fun.
Jumping rope works most of the muscles. Arms, shoulders, core, and legs are engaged when jumping rope which provides a more efficient workout than your casual running. Although the muscles in your calves are exerting most of the energy, your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glute-muscles are also working. As you jump and keep balance, you are using your chest, back, and core muscles. As you turn the rope, you are utilising your forearms, triceps, biceps, and shoulders.
Using a weighted rope – which is what I do – is a great way to increase the upper body recruitment and energy you exert while jumping.
How to do this
Select a rope that is not too long or too short. Find the proper length for you by stepping on the centre of the rope and pulling the handles straight up; the handles should come close to shoulder height. Start jumping by standing with your feet together, torso tall and your elbows slightly bent. Use your wrists to rotate the rope, not your arms. Push off with the balls of your feet just high enough to clear the rope and land with relaxed knees.
For a beginner, 30 seconds of consecutive jumping or about 50 repetitions would be good enough. Perform 3-4 sets with rest periods lasting 60-90 seconds. Gradually, increase the duration and intensity of your sets. My personal best at the moment: 300 reps per set; 2000 per workout.
The only thing stopping you from jumping rope should be bad knees.
Consult your physician before you take the leap.
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