The mighty skipping rope has been a playground staple for years. Meanwhile boxers have long used skipping – or jump rope as they often call it – to build on endurance, coordination and develop speed as part of their training. That makes it one of the few intense cardio and full body workouts – because that is effectively what it is – that is popular with both little girls and enormous boxers.
The cult status of skipping in the mainstream fitness world has only been emerging in the last few years, but it's easy to see why it's gained popularity. This calorie-torching workout can help the average person burn more than 300 calories every 30 minutes.
Your heart isn’t by any means the only muscle that's working hard – a jump rope is a rival to even the best full body workout. Quads and glutes are fired up as you launch yourself off the ground while your core works hard to keep you upright and stable for the landing. The arms, shoulders and wrists all come into play as you have a tight grip on the rope.
The skipping rope is a very 'safe' workout too, if you’re avoiding gyms. Its packability and do-anywhere convenience make it a great workout to burn calories in the park. It can even be done as a HIIT workout which is great for torching fat. Your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours following an interval training session.
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Skipping for beginners
If you haven’t skipped since you were a child, it may seem awkward at first. Persevere. Similar to riding a bike, once you have mastered the art of jump rope, you will never forget.
Skipping is all about rhythm and timing. Begin practicing the latter by holding both handles of the rope in one hand rotating it in a circular motion to the side of the body. Jump as the rope hits the floor. Keep your jumps low to minimise impact to your knees and ankle. Once you are confident with your timing, jump over the rope.
You could try listening to rhythmic music at a suitable tempo, to build up your consistency – try it with a pair of the best running headphones!
With practice, you can crank up your workout with interesting moves such as skip jump (hope on one foot while kicking the other out front), jog jump (alternating your feet in a jogging movement) and hop jump (hop on one leg for several skips before alternating on the other).
Skipping HIIT workouts: yes, that's a thing
Unless you’re a fitness enthusiast and are happy to spend copious hours in the gym sculpting your body, chances are you want to maximize your calorie burn. More results, in a shorter amount of time. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is your friend here!
Reaping the benefits of cardio and strength, HIIT training is a very time-efficient way to get fit. It involves switching between short periods of rest and usually slightly shorter bursts of intense effort.
It works because your metabolism is reset to a higher rate during the intense workout, which means it takes hours for your body to cool down again. The process is called EPOC – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. In layman's terms, this means you continue to burn calories long after you've finished your workout. This is in contrast to one-paced running, for instance, where you burn calories ‘in the moment’. With HIIT, weight loss is accelerated so you get more bang for your buck.
Skipping is an ideal way to get a great HIIT workout, because once you have got good at it, it's so easy to mix up the speed at which you skip. Try alternating 15 seconds of skipping as fast as you can – without accidentally garrotting yourself – with 30 to 45 seconds of skipping at a much gentler pace.
With practice over time, you can start to increase the periods of speed skipping and reduce the recovery periods. You will feel it, believe me!
8 great reasons why you should start skipping
Skipping is a great exercise that can be done by literally anyone. Below we’ve outlined 8 reasons why you should take it up and put the fun back into fitness. So dust off your skipping rope and allow yourself to regress to your childhood while burning calories.
1. It's a very cheap workout with go-anywhere convenience
Wave goodbye to extortionate gym fees because once you've purchased a rope, skipping is a zero-cost workout. Ropes can be as cheap at chips with standard nylon ones costing as little as three pounds/dollars. And once you have your rope, all you need is enough space around you to rotate it in front of and above you. Skipping can be done both indoors – ceiling height and space permitting – and outdoors. Due to its packability, the training aid can be popped into your bag so you never need skip a workout while traveling.
2. It’s better than running
If you don’t like running but want to reap the benefits of it, make skipping your best friend. Jumping rope can burn the same amount of calories per minute as running, without you even needing to go anywhere.
3. It helps with weight loss
Losing weight is a popular reason to take up skipping. Depending on your weight and exertion, the average person can expect to burn more than 10 calories per minute.
4. It's a full-body workout!
Skipping speeds up weight loss because it is a full-body workout. Your abdominals are activated to stabilise the body, the legs will fire up the quads and the glutes, and your shoulders, arms and wrists will come into play as you rotate the rope. Skipping also pumps up your heart and lungs.
5. Blends well into your fitness routines
Boxers have been using the rope as a training aid for many years as part of their training. You too can mix it up to form part of any workout. So a circuit may look like this. Skip for 30 seconds, bodyweight exercise (squats, lunges, press-ups, tricep-dips) for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. You can change the bodyweight exercise each time you come round to it.
6. Improves coordination
Jumping rope helps improve coordination, focus and stamina. Whether you're paying attention or not, your brain is focusing on your feet and is aware of what they are doing. Over time, the continued practice will literally make you lighter on your feet.
7. Reduces foot and ankle injuries
As well as foot coordination, skipping strengthens the muscles around the feet and ankles. This helps reduce the chances of injury. Jumping rope encourages you to remain on the balls of your feet as opposed to being on the heels or flat-footed. Away from skipping, it will be become easier to stay on your toes alleviating pressure on the whole of the foot.
8. It lifts your mental health
Like most exercises, skipping can improve your mental health by releasing the mood-lifting hormone endorphins. This helps to ward off depression. Jumping rope also improves your ability to remain calm because you’re working your body and brain simultaneously which is synchronous. Some experts even suggest that skipping can even make you cleverer. Yes, because skipping encourages the development of both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, it can make you mentally alert, improve reading skills, increase memory and enhance special awareness. It’s because when you’re jumping on the balls of your feet, your mind and body need to make adjustments to correct the imbalances created.
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