Favorite Exercise #1: Jump Rope

In elementary school we ran a fundraiser every year called Jump Rope for Heart.  You had to get sponsors and jump rope for so many minutes in gym class each day.  I also remember not being very good at it, as I was most sports. I lacked the coordination and cardio strength to be successful at jump rope.  This left me feeling like a failure, unfit and added to my self doubt.  As a child, I always blamed myself for not being able to do certain movements in gym class or at sports practice.  Now that I am studying fitness training and how programs should progress, I realize how unprepared I was for many of the movements that they expected us to be able to do.  Did we jump rope each day for just a few minutes before being asked to do it for 20? No.  Did we do supportive strength exercise for the muscles needed to jump rope? No.  Did we do cardio regularly? Maybe 5 minutes to start each class.  The problem was in the program, not the exercise.

Now I love to Jump Rope.  I use jump rope as my cardio in a circuit before anything else.  I love to jump rope and I recently learned to do Double Unders. (Two rotations of the rope in one jump) Here’s some benefits to jumping rope:

  1.  It’s super cheap!  You can find speed or regular jump ropes on Amazon for $5-$8 that will actually last for a while and start you on your path of jumping rope.  You don’t even have to buy one when you’re starting. (See Invisible Rope below!)
  2.  It’s portable!  You can literally jump rope anywhere and everywhere.  I used to have a jump rope in my office for quick cardio bursts.  I have a jump rope with me almost everywhere I go.  It’s so easy to get in a few quick minutes.
  3. It’s a HIGH calorie burner! Jumping rope is one of the only activities that burns calories as quickly as running, without actually having to run. 10-16 calories a minute! 
  4. Good for the Brain! Jumping rope is great for the brain because it demands both physical and mental focus.  In order to do it correctly, so many systems need to work together.  
  5. Agility! One of the typical mental images of jumping rope is a boxer.  The reason for this is because boxer’s jump rope for the foot strength and agility on the balls of their feet.  Always jump rope on the ball of your feet! 
  6. Bone Density! Most people would be surprised to hear that jumping rope is better for your joints than running because the shock is absorbed by both legs instead of one at a time.   

Source Article: 6 Surprising Benefits of Jumping Rope

While I’ve been jumping rope for a few years now, I tried to go back and think about how I really learned.  Hopefully this helps a few of you be more successful:

  1.  Just get your feet moving: Sometimes starting with a rope just hurts.  If you are hitting yourself every few jumps, you’re never going to want to continue.  If you have fear of the rope, it could even get worse.  Jump rope with an “Invisible Rope” first.  Jump to the beat of the song.
  2. Watch yourself in a mirror: Now, watching yourself jump rope can be quite shocking if you have as many ‘nonfirm parts’ as I do. 🙂  Just watch your feet.  If you are jumping with the invisible rope from step 1, make sure both feet are off the ground at the same time BEFORE adding the rope.
  3. Rope Progression: Start with a softer rope, even one of the beaded ‘playground’ ropes.  DO NOT get one that is so soft that it holds NO shape when you are jumping.  (Even though they are usually super cute and brite) Work your way to a wire or thin speed rope to do more complicated jumps.  As you learn to jump rope, you’ll learn what you like in a jump rope.  If the rope is messing you up after you’ve been practicing a while, it could be the rope. 🙂 Length of rope is also important.  To measure, stand on the rope and the handles should meet your armpits.  Some ropes are child length and some are for giants.  It makes a big difference.
  4. Exercise those muscles: Jump Rope uses all of your leg muscles and even into your glute. (Duh!) Any additional leg strength exercises that you can do are going to benefit your jumping rope.  Calf raises, lunges, squats, deadlifts…..it’s all good!
  5. Time: I started with a timer for jumping intervals.  At first I could go for a minute and eventually two.  The more I tried, the better I got.  You can see yourself improving with this exercise easily.  Now I count my jumps because I find it keeps me more accountable.  Now, if I use a timer, I’ll just slowly jump.  But if I give myself a number, I’ll try to get it done ASAP!  A typical AMRAP or Circuit for me these days has 200 single jumps and 20 double unders each round.
  6. Keep Trying!  Don’t let more than a few days pass before practicing again!  With jump rope, muscle memory is key, so just keep trying.  I think you’ll get addicted pretty quick!  Get that heart pumping!
  7. Form is really everything:
    1. RELAX!  When you are jumping rope, relax everything as much as you can.  This includes: knees, hips, calves, shoulders and especially neck.  Keep your body aligned but relaxed.
    2. Jump Up and Down: I know how this sounds but what I mean is, jump in the same exact place each time.  If you are finding yourself moving forward or backward, your body isn’t aligned.  This can lead to knee and hip pain.  Until you are more advanced, you may lack the proper ankle and foot strength to do fancy jumps.
    3. Don’t jump so high: Half the time I see new ropers, they are jumping 18 inches in the air!  You literally need just a few inches for the rope to pass below you.  The more force you use to jump up, the more force you put on your joints when you return to absorb the jump and reload for the next.  Also, a higher jump takes more time.  The closer you remain to the earth while you’re jumping rope, the faster you will become and the healthier your joints will be.
    4. Shhhhhhh!  You should listen to yourself jumping rope just like you watch your feet.  If you sound like a herd of elephants, your putting an elephant’s worth of force on your joints.  If you sound like a mouse……duh.  Try to make as little sound as possible when you’re jumping rope.  This keeps your joints light and your form in check.  Aways jump on the pads of your feet.  Not your toes.  Not your heels.  Trust me.

 

 

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