The best shape I have ever been in is when I was an avid jump roper. Using this one piece of gear is a fantastic way to burn calories and lose weight, and you can jump rope at your own level of intensity for any length of time. In fact, in only 15 to 20 minutes you can elevate your heart rate, work up a major sweat and get an overall energy boost.
From Muhammed Ali to Rocky Balboa, any boxer will tell you that skipping rope isn't something just for little girls on the playground. Few other exercises build timing and rhythm the way jumping rope does. It's a complete cross-training workout that combines elements of cardiovascular and endurance training with muscle strengthening. While you probably know how great jumping rope is for shaping the calves, glutes and quads, what you may not realize is that the constant turning motion of the rope will also tone your upper body.
If it's been a while since you last picked up a jump rope, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, coordination doesn't always come easy, so be patient. Second, when selecting a jump rope, the proper length is important: Stand with both feet on the center of your rope. If the tips of the handles reach chest level, this is an appropriate length. Finally, jumping rope barefoot is not recommended; proper shock absorption is necessary to reduce the risk of injury to your feet and ankles, so wear an athletic shoe with lots of cushioning.
Since jumping rope is so aerobically demanding, the best way to build stamina is to use interval training, which alternates periods of work and recovery. For example, jump rope for three minutes followed by marching in place. Repeat this four or five times and before you know it, you'll have completed your workout.
All jumps start with the rope behind you, next to your heels. The speed of the rope comes from your arms rather than your feet; your feet follow whatever pace your arms set. Be sure to not flex at the wrist while turning the rope. Try to keep the wrist as a natural extension of the forearm. Here are four easy moves to help you get started:
This is just as it sounds. You'll push off your toes and land on both feet, bending slightly at your knees and pushing off of your toes again for the next jump.
Jump on one foot while you place the opposite heel on the floor in front of you. As you bring the rope around, switch feet; continue to alternate as you jump.
The pattern is identical to the placement of your feet in actual cross-country skiing (one forward, one back), except you need to jump a little higher to clear the jump rope. In the landing position of the jump, you will open your legs in a stride position and then switch legs as the rope comes over your head for the next landing.
This is just like the jumping jacks you remember from fifth grade gym class, but the key is to coordinate the jump with the turning of the rope. Turn once with feet together, once with feet apart and be careful not to bring feet out too far to the side or you risk catching the rope on them.