Skip Rope, Not Your Workout

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So you want to burn off some calories fast. You don't want to spend a bunch of money on gyms and equipment and you need to be able to do it almost anywhere and you can't go running outside for whatever reason (snow and ice, bad neighborhood, too many steep hills, or whatever). Then jumping rope may be for you. If you think rope jumping is only for girls and little kids, check out most boxers. Rope jumping is often integrated into their workout plan because it tones many upper and lower body muscle groups, improves cardiovascular fitness and endurance and aids coordination.

Your dollar output is a beaded rope (for beginners, a rope strung through plastic oblong beads with a handle at each end) because it keeps its shape and is easy to control (about $7 to $20) and cross-training athletic shoes (about $49 to $150) and a place that is about 4 X 6 foot area with a relatively non-slick floor (wood, exercise mat, or piece of plywood) -- not carpet, dirt, concrete, asphalt, or grass to avoid twisting an ankle or knee. Also, you need about 10 to 12 inches of space above your head for the rope to swing freely as you jump. The ropes come in various lengths. Your correct length is easily determined by putting the center of the rope under both feet and having the handles reach your armpits or the lower part of your breastbone.

If you have not jumped rope for years, the following steps may help you get into the swing of things:

  • Jump on the balls of your feet (practice a few times without the rope).
  • Don't jump high. Practice trying to jump only about an inch.
  • Use a rope length (described above) that fits you.
  • Position your hands slightly above your waist and about 12 inches from your body.
  • Use your wrists to twirl the rope. Don't swing your arms and shoulders very much.
  • Get into a rhythm (hum a tune or listen to music with a good beat).
  • Practice. Beginners should first practice without the rope and then with the rope but swinging it with both handles in one hand and not jumping through it. This helps the beginner develop some basic coordination and confidence in handling the rope.