You’d think for a guy that used to box I’d be pretty adept at jumping rope. Well, so much for fancy footwork! It took me a long time to get the rhythm of jumping rope down to where I could do it and get some benefit out of it. For me it took concentration. The minute I started thinking about anything else besides jumping rope, sure enough my feet would get tangled and before you know I’d be face down on the floor. In fact, I think a jump rope put me down for the count with more success than any opponent ever did.
But don’t let that deter you! Jumping rope is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise I know of. It burns a lot of calories, is relatively easy (once you get the hang of it) and can be done at home without expensive equipment. One of the biggest benefits I’ve discovered about jumping rope is that it is a low-impact exercise — meaning it won’t put your knees under a lot of stress. And believe me, as you get older, you don’t your knees to be full of aches and pains. At the same time, jumping rope is a great exercise for keeping your shoulders limber.
Despite my initial missteps when I first started jumping rope, I learned early that a regular jumping rope routine helped me become a better boxer by developing my coordination and agility. Jumping rope targets your calves, thighs, you’re your butt. The instant benefits of jumping rope may be most readily apparent if you incorporate jumping rope into a cross-training program — in which a variety of aerobic and resistance activities are combined to create a complete cardiovascular workout to achieve all-around fitness. I don’t do much dancing around the ring any more but I still jump rope on a regular basis. And come to think of it, I still manage to get tangled up and fall on a regular basis as well. I guess old habits die hard.
O-k, so let’s get started. Step One is a no-brainer: the first thing you need to do is get a rope. My personal favorite for jumping rope isn’t even a rope — it’s actually a length of coaxial-television cable. I’ve found that television cable is a little bit heavier than conventional rope and handles better. It also stings a little more if you mess up and whack yourself in the head. Anyway, that’s my preference. According to www.jumpropeinstitute.com, when buying the right ropethe most important thing is to make sure that it is the right length. It is usually possible to adjust the length if the rope is too long. Stand with both feet in the center of the rope and pull up the ends. The handles (if there are handles) should reach to your armpits. This is important and can effect how well you maneuver the rope while jumping. The JRI also explains a variety of jump-rope methods, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Getting Started. Some trainers recommend you wear loose, comfortable clothing while jumping rope. I have found that baggy pants tend to get caught in the rope so I jump with sweat pants that are somewhat form-fitting. You’ll want shoes that have a good heel and will support continuous bouncing. Now begin to jump. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and your upper arms close to your body. When you jump rope, use your wrists, not your whole arms, to turn the rope and try to keep your hands as low as possible — preferably down by your sides. Keep your back straight and your stomach pulled in. At this early point, don’t worry about speed. Concentrate on form. Trust me — if you skip for 20 minutes you’re gonna feel it all over no matter how fast or slow you are going.
There are several methods of jumping rope. You don’t need to concern yourself with trying to emulate Sugar Ray Leonard (or for those of you a bit older, the late Sugar Ray Robinson — the undisputed master of rhythmic rope jumping). Check out the following:
This is the easiest way to jump rope. Think of it as jogging in place but with a jump rope. At first, step each time with the same foot leading, and then try alternating the leading foot. To avoid strain, keep your feet within 1 inch of the ground and your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. Keep your head upright, in line with your spine.
As your fitness level increases, begin adding jumps with both feet together. To avoid boredom, you could try some variations, such as hopping on one foot, then the other. Again, make sure you do not jump too high. If you keep your feet in fairly close contact with the ground, you will minimize the chance of strain and will more likely keep jumping for a longer time.
Jumping rope is not too much more complicated than that. Once you get the hang of it. I recommend developing a program. If you have not jumped rope for some time, you may find a normal training level too hard. According to the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org), in order to build up stamina, you should jump rope initially for 2 minutes, or if this is too much, for 30 to 40 jumps, and then rest for 30 seconds. I agree with this. It’s always good to start with realistic goals and then build from there. Try to aim for four sets of 2 minutes with a 1 minute interval in between. The great thing about jumping rope is that you can do it daily if you want. As a beginner however, every other day is fine.
After a week or two increase your sets. Go for 3 minutes than 4 then 5 minutes. Always aim for four sets. If you can do four sets of 5 minutes each you’re doing a heck of a work out that last less than a half hour including rest intervals. Work up to 3 times a week minimum.
Jumping rope is a great alternative to running – which may not always be convenient. Jumping rope can be done at home and for individuals who work-at-home, jumping rope is a great way to break up the routine of sitting down for extended periods of time.