Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jumping Rope

If you’re looking for simple, effective cardio that you can do almost anywhere then jumping rope is the solution for you. A jump rope is all you need to improve endurance, speed, posture or just burn lots of calories and lose weight. Before you just pick up a jump rope and go to it, its important to learn the proper technique, have a plan and don’t overdo it.

True beginners should choose a beaded rope for the first time. This will be slower and easier to get a rhythm down before you move on to a lightweight speed rope. Determine the correct length for your height by standing on the rope with both feet and pulling it up to your armpits. Warm up with a slow jog in place before starting to jump. Stretch your calves before and after jumping to prevent injury and soreness. When jumping keep the elbows close to the sides, hold the handles with a firm grip and make small circles with the wrist, not the arms. Focus on an object straight ahead and keep your head erect with the torso straight but relaxed. Jumping rope is a great teacher of posture because it is nearly impossible to do for a long time without good posture. For the first two weeks don’t worry about speed or endurance but focus on your jumping technique. Practice jumping and landing lightly on the balls of your feet. Knee and ankle motion should be small as you jump just high enough to clear the rope. Be prepared to get snagged and hit by the rope but don’t give up. Progress slowly and focus on mastering the skill. Soon you will develop the timing and form necessary to start a serious cross training program.

There are two main steps to master first. The basic bounce step is jumping with feet together only high enough to clear the rope. Next is the alternate foot step or jogging step. Jump to clear the rope with alternate feet like you are jogging in place. Lift the knees up, do not kick the feet back. For both techniques each time the rope passes under your feet, it counts as one jump. Try to practice each for 50 times without stopping. Rest in between as much as you need to. Keep practicing and see if you can progress to 100, 200, 300 or even 500 times without a miss.

Jumping rope properly is a lot more intense than your average machine cardio workout in the gym. Why do think boxers do it so they can go for 10 rounds and outlast their opponent. This intensity will give you more benefits for less time! There is even more jump rope techniques beyond the scope of this article so please contact a trainer if you are interested in learning more!

Written by Paul Nelson
Personal Fitness Trainer, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate
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