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For the first time since school, I pick up the jump rope. I get my feet moving and lungs pumping for what feels like the first time in forever. After spending the past year behind a desk all day (and on the sofa all night), I don’t feel great. So I’m pleased to find a new way to work out – and skip my way to good health.
Unlike other forms of exercise, skipping doesn’t actually feel like working out. It’s merely bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet until you feel tired.
I’m still a beginner, though, so I decide to speak to skipping pros to help me become the jump rope queen of the playground (a.k.a my back garden). Here, they share their tips to get you jumping like a pro.
You don’t want to skip this.
Firstly, what are the benefits of skipping?
Skipping shouldn’t be reserved for the playground. And not just because it’s fun, but because it’s a bloody good workout, too. A study from Arizona University found skipping for just 10 minutes is the equivalent of running for 30 minutes. And another found 10 minutes of using the jumping rope can roughly be considered the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile. Sign me up.
“Skipping, in my opinion, is the most energetic and fun method of training you can do,” says Lewis Dove, PT and head skipping instructor at Gymbox. “Not only does it test your fitness as a whole, but you work different motor skills, such as agility, balance, timing, to name a few. It’s a skill-based method of training. You’re working the mind just as much as your body.”
And the best thing? Jumping ropes work with all the major muscle groups in the body. If you want to adjust to target specific areas, you can. “You can target the calves, as you’re on your toes the whole way through,” says Dove, “and also it can be turned into a high-intensity cardio workout, so you’ll strip fat all over.”
Besides working our core and calves, skipping can help improve posture, which is especially helpful if you’re slumped hunched over a laptop all day.
“One of the most satisfying things about skipping is how you can celebrate conquering skills from the very first time you pick up a rope,” adds Keon Ghaharian, founder of Dope Ropes. “From there, the list of tricks to unlock and work on is seemingly endless.”
Here’s your five-step plan to getting started.
1. Understand the basics
First things first, let’s talk kit. A rope that’s far too long is a common hindrance for beginners, so ensuring the correct length will help on your journey.
“Get a rope that’s long enough to go over your body,” says Ghaharian. “No matter how small or tall you are, I recommend getting a rope roughly 10 feet in length, which is the average one-size-fit-all.”
For those without outside space, don’t worry – it’s still possible to skip indoors! As long as there’s enough room for you to jump, of course. “One thing to keep in mind is flooring,” adds Ghaharian. “Wood floors are best as they have a little cushion. Many indoor jumpers prefer to use a jump rope mat as it gives a little extra cushion on the joints, prevents marking floors, and also dampens the sound of the rope when considering neighbours in apartments below.”
2. Learn the form
“Looking straight ahead with an upright frame is important,” says Ghaharian. Jumping in the correct position will prevent any injuries from landing badly.
So, how do you do it? “Tuck your elbows in close to your body,” explains Dove. “I always advise the closer your hands are to your body then the more control you’ll have over the rope.” And the rest… well, it’s pretty simple. Swing the rope behind you while your arms move in a circular motion and jump!
3. Get to know the timing
Timing is everything. For complete beginners, slow and steady wins the race.
“Most people forget that they’re in control of the speed of the rope,” says Ghaharian. “Start with seeing how many single bounces you can do without tripping, then try and add one more bounce on each time.”
Try skipping in front of a mirror if possible, he says – or you could watch your reflection in a window. That way, you can see yourself jump over the rope and get that timing right. This will, in time, prevent you clipping the rope on your heels or shins – making the experience pain-free.
4. Add in the tricks
Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are different tricks and ways to switch up skipping styles to prevent the workout from becoming boring.
“In terms of the first trick to learn, the crossover and basic cross variations are good ones to get started with,” Ghaharian says. “People tend to find their favourite tricks whether it’s crossing skills, releases, fancy footwork, rotations, power moves that incorporate handstands and planks or speed drills.”
Have a look online at the library of tricks to master some more advanced skills.
5. Practise – and practise some more
As the saying goes: practice makes perfect. Go at your own pace.
In the beginning, I find it frustrating tripping up and accidentally whipping myself, but everyone struggles at the start. Skipping will be muscle memory and you’ll find a rhythm the more you do it. Everyone’s progress is different, so just compare yourself to yourself the day before.
“Take your time, you’re not going to perfect this overnight,” adds Dove. “Practise, practise, practise – and like anything, the more you do the better you’ll become at it.”
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.