Jumping rope is a great exercise that teaches body control while improving coordination, agility and endurance. A jump rope is fairly inexpensive, can be taken almost anywhere and challenges any fitness level.
Jump ropes come in many shapes, sizes and materials. Choose the one that best matches your needs and skill level. To get started, make sure you have the correct length jump rope. If you stand on the middle of the rope and pull the handles up toward your shoulders, the ends of the handles should just reach your armpits. If you don't have a jump rope, you can still mimic the rope swinging motion without holding a rope -- just move your arms and jump as if you did have a jump rope. This works well for a complete beginner or for someone who has joint issues and wants to minimize impact.
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Begin by standing with feet together and the rope at your heels and swing the jump rope up over your head by flipping your wrists rather than trying to swing your entire arm. As the rope comes around your front side, lightly jump by pushing the balls of your feet into the floor, bending your knees and pulling your heels upward. Adjust your arms to a slight elbow bend and allow the rope to lightly skip off the floor on each swing.
Only jump as high as needed to clear the rope -- there's no sense in wasting energy by jumping too high. At this point, set your pace and get your breathing under control. A slow and consistent pace is best for beginners rather than trying to muscle out as many reps as possible.
A great way to become proficient with the jump rope is to begin using it as part of your warm-up routine. Before your next workout session, grab a jump rope and just get comfortable with swinging and jumping. After a few workouts and practice sessions, you'll start to feel more comfortable with the timing and coordination.
The jump rope can be used to compliment and challenge your current workout routine as well. Add 30 seconds of jumping between your normal sets as a type of active recovery, where your muscles can recover from the overload of the strength training but you still work your cardiovascular system by staying active rather than sitting on a bench and resting.
You can even center your entire workout around the jump rope with speed intervals and endurance training. Jump rope for one minute then lay the rope down in a straight line and shuffle back and forth over the rope for one minute. This way, your heart rate is rising during the jumping portion and recovering during the shuffling portion. This will allow you to endure for several minutes and improve your cardiovascular conditioning as well.
Mastering the jump rope will give you another option in your exercise arsenal. The more options you have, the greater chance for enjoying fresh and upbeat workouts. For more exercise and nutrition tips, visit our website at PushFitnessTraining.com for links to our Facebook and Pinterest pages.
• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.