People often ask me what’s my favourite exercise. The answer is simple: Skipping. Skipping (or as our friends across the pond call it; jump rope) is inherent to the training of my other exercise love; boxing. It was here that I began to see the huge benefits of picking up that simple piece of rope. I’m here to tell you why!
There’s a reason some of the best athletes in the world skip; total body conditioning, co-ordination, stamina, speed, agility, endurance, cardio… the list goes on. All from this one little rope? You got it. Skipping is known to be one of the most efficient, time effective, fiery, sweaty workouts you can get. All for the price of one simple (very cheap, very portable) skipping rope.
Any one that knows me, knows I won’t go anywhere in the world without packing my nifty little jump rope partner in crime – and you shouldn’t either. I may not quite have the hustle of Ali’s shuffle but I’ve certainly picked up some tricks and tips along the way. Through my own practice and through training my clients I’ve compiled a list of my top skipping tricks.
“You’ll never look at that skipping rope the same way again…”
Tone What You Own’s top tips for jump rope success…
1) Rope Length
A common mistake that’s easily fixed is the length of your rope. If the rope is too short you won’t stand a chance of making that jump. Too long and it will be running rings around you. As a general rule of thumb, if you stand on the middle of the rope and bring the handles up in front of you they should reach around your armpit level. If your rope is too long you can always tie knots in either end to shorten it. By choosing the right length you’ll stand a far better chance of jumping it. Next up…
2) Jump Technique
Often people over emphasise the need to jump in skipping (sounds obvious but its not). Think of it as less of a huge, heavy footed jump than a light tap on the ground with hardly any lift. Aim for your feet to lift no more than 1/4-1/2 inch off the ground each time. Also make sure that the surface you’re jumping on is flat and the ground is clear. This can also be a common mistake, making life harder for you to skip.
Another factor to consider when jumping is to land on the balls of your feet. Try not to land flat footed. Land soft and with a slight bend in the knee, resist the urge to lock out your legs. This will allow your body and joints to correctly absorb the pressure of the jump.
Now, your arms. Instead of trying to take the skipping rope in one big wide circle with your arms. Think less flailing your arms up and over your shoulders and more focussed wrist movement. Your arms should be tucked in nice and tight to your torso with the wrists making the circles, not your whole arm.
3) Practice, Practice & Practice Some More!
How often have you tried to skip before (maybe even never!) All too often people get frustrated with skipping and give up after a couple of minutes. Give yourself a chance; most people haven’t had the opportunity to practice skipping. You can’t progress without practice. Like anything, your body builds muscle memory around learned behaviour. You are what you repeatedly do. No exceptions to the rule with this and skipping. I promise you with (a lot!) of practice you will get better. Hopefully you’ll learn to find it enjoyable too.
Anyone who has the trick book the size of an encylopedia will have put in dedication and time to get to that point. You won’t be Ali overnight, but he wasn’t Ali overnight! Practice, practice then practice again.
4) Keep it Fun!
Perhaps more importantly than anything else. Have fun with it! Laugh at yourself when you get tripped (& whipped! Ow!) for the millionth time. You tried that snazzy little trick, and flopped, at least you tried. You don’t get anywhere by taking yourself too seriously and not trying new things. Be open to it. Persistence will get you there. Just don’t give up.
Remember variety is the spice of life! Sounds cheesy but it is. So once you get your standard jump nailed. Move on, mix it up. Try new tricks and tempos in between sets of jumps. Anything goes…high knees, butt kicks, sprints, criss cross, crossovers, double unders, shuffle, hops, you name it there’s probably a trick for it. Go wild and enjoy it!
Let the music play on! Get yourself a cracking playlist, crank it up loud. You’ll be surprised how much it will spur you on. Catch that hop on the beat, up that tempo when the bass kicks up a gear. I’m obsessed with my Beats by Dre in ear bluetooth headphones for this very reason. No matter how much I jump and go crazy, they don’t budge. You can check out my spotify playlists for some music inspiration – username: Kim0202.
5) Your Fit Fix
Make it work for you and the fitness fix you need. It doesn’t have to mean hours on the skipping rope. Maybe you start out with 30 seconds to a minute between your weights set. Maybe it’s stamina and endurance you want; work up to longer timings. At first you might want to take a break when you need to, and then get back into it to build up to longer stronger rounds.
Take the intensity up a level. Skip with intervals. Vary between high intensity and low intensity bursts of skipping to get in those hot, sweaty, fat burning workouts. I like to set up intervals on my “SecondsPro” app for this. You could maybe try 45 seconds of normal jumping, 45 seconds of high knee sprints then back to normal, and so on, for a few rounds. Varying the exercises each time.
It’s a full body blaster so you’re going to feel it. In time it will get easier, which is when you can kick the challenges up a notch. The other great thing about skipping is you can always make it harder. Do it longer, faster, with a heavier rope. Did you know 20 mins of skipping is somewhere near the equivalent of a 5 mile run? You can burn up 1000 calories an hour, making this one heck of an efficient little workout number. Sometimes its the simpler pieces of equipment that get overlooked but are the best.
Why don’t you try and skip to it today? I hope that these tips will help you on your way to skipping success!
Sending health and happiness,