When most people hear the word “cardio” they immediately think of endless hours on a treadmill. Sweating away in toil in a boring, long routine that will eventually burn some fat, but take up a ton of time. The results will come eventually, they think, I just have to get through this torturous run.
This is the wrong line of thinking. Running is obviously a great form of cardiovascular activity, but it is far from the most efficient, unless you are performing a sprint workout. Cardio work should not take hours, and it should not be as taxing on the mind as it is on the body. It is a necessary part of any complete fitness regimen and therefore, in my opinion, should be fun.
Enter the jump rope. It is an old school mechanism that has fallen out of favor. How often do you see people skipping rope at the gym? Not often enough. Jumping rope has myriad benefits outside of the ease and convenience.
To begin to master the jump rope the only two things you need are a jump rope and space. It can be done almost anywhere with a high enough ceiling. Your garage, the cardio room at the gym, out on the street. Jump ropes cost very little, and it only takes 20-30 minutes to get a full workout in.
Your first few attempts to skip the rope are going to be very awkward, and in some cases very embarrassing. It’s not going to seem natural. When you miss a jump the only thing you can do is take a deep breath and start over again.
When beginning to the two main things to focus on are your breath and your feet. You want to use your breath as a means to “center” yourself. That is to not allow you to get too stressed over the new stimulus, or to overthink the rotation of the rope. You want to get into a rhythm with the rope. You don’t want to have to calculate when to jump, you want your whole body to be in unison so the timing is easy.
You first few jumps are going to be exaggerated, and that’s ok. As you get used to the rope you will being to understand that your feet only need to come about a quarter of an inch off the ground, just enough to let the rope pass underneath without hitting the sole of your foot.
Jumping rope is the perfect warm up. It is a low impact activity that raises the heart rate and core temperature to put your body in the optimal state to complete an intense workout. Warming up is neglected due to time constraints but it is vital to prevent injury and to put our body in an ideal hormonal environment. Jumping rope can cut the time of your warm up drastically.
Jumping rope builds coordination. Something the treadmill can never do. In order to perform even one rotation of the rope you need to teach your body how to be properly aligned, rigid in the core, loose in the hips and soft in the feet. If you mess up even one of these aspects you will miss the jump, and have to start over. For this reason jumping rope also poses minimal risk of injury.
Using the Jump Rope to Warm Up.
Warming up with the jump rope is simple. Set a time for 60, 90 or 120 seconds and slowly start jumping. Do this at least 3 times or until you’re sweaty. You want to go slow and build up momentum during a warm up, not throw yourself into an intense pace. Throw some active movements in during your rest periods and you will have the ideal warm up.
Here is my standard warmup.
Jumping Rope for Conditioning
Ideally this will be done some point in the middle or end of your workout. This is even simpler than the warm up. You want to set a timer for no more than 2 minutes and jump as fast as you can. After the timer beeps catch your breath for 30 seconds and do it again. I recommend having at least 10 minutes of jumping time. This will send your heart rate through the roof, and set your shoulders and forearms on fire.
Jumping rope is simple but is by no means easy. It is eminently adaptable. You can perform it at a snail’s pace as a means of recovery, or you can jump like a kangaroo on Red Bull as an interval cardio workout.
Very few things burn as many calories as a minute of jumping rope. It’s going to be awkward at first but you can master it in a very short time. If you want to build coordination, athleticism and burn some fat you must start jumping rope. Just find some little girls to teach you how to double dutch.