Does the idea of jump rope cardio call up images of dark boxing gyms, noisy school playgrounds, or dreaded high school phys-ed classes? This humble piece of fitness equipment has earned a reputation for being either a child's toy or a method of torture meted out by trainers whose resumes include MMA championships or a stint with the Marine Corps.
But, if you have been avoiding jump rope, it's time to change your perception because this old-school way of getting fit really does work.
And, it doesn't have to be cruel and unusual punishment. In fact, you can get better results in less time and burn so many calories that this unassuming little tool may actually become a regular in your workout regime.
1. Cost Effective. Workout equipment or gym memberships can be expensive, but you can find a good quality jump rope for under $20. And, since they don't take a lot of abuse, you will probably have it for years to come.
2. Compact and Portable. A jump rope can easily fit into your briefcase, purse, or luggage. It is a great option if you travel a lot and can't always make it to the gym. Plus, it is possible to fit a workout in almost anywhere - inside or outside. All you need is enough space for full rotation so the rope isn't hitting the ceiling or other objects.
3. Improved Strength. Jump rope engages all major muscle groups and will strengthen your legs, abs, glutes, shoulders, and arms. It has also been shown to improve bone density and increase explosive power while playing sports.
4. Improved Coordination. Jump rope is a lot harder than it looks, and it requires a lot of coordination, agility and flexibility to stay balanced.
5. Improved Cardiovascular Health. Jump rope cardio can increase your heart rate quickly so you can reach your target zone sooner. For best heart benefits, the American College Of Sports Medicine recommends incorporating jump rope into your routine 3-5 times a week for at least 20-30 minutes per session. But don't panic - the workout can be continuous or broken into smaller segments with rest periods or alternate exercises in between. Plus, many experts claim that you can get great results with much shorter workouts – even as little as 10 minutes a day.
6. Fat Loss and Calorie Burn. Since it uses multiple muscle groups, jump rope cardio is an amazing calorie burn exercise. Depending on your size and metabolism and the intensity of your workout, you can use between 750-1000 calories per hour. That means a quick 10-minute session will burn 125-167 calories!
7. Great For Any Fitness Level. Even a beginner can jump rope for 15-30 seconds (unless you have knee or joint issues). It is a great way to get into shape, and by extending the duration of your workout, adding intervals, or mixing it up with various jumps/footwork you can easily increase the intensity as your fitness level improves.
Like any form of exercise, to get the best results you need to focus on proper form and follow a few tips that will help you achieve maximum benefits in less time.
To make your workout more fun, interesting, and challenging, there are several different types of jumps that you can use:
Two Foot Jump – Keep both legs and feet together as you jump. A bonus of this move is the fact that you can swing the rope forward or backward for an extra challenge to your coordination and agility.
Alternating Feet Jump – This is like jogging in place, only with a jump rope added.
Side-to-Side Jump – Some fitness trainers call this move the “slalom”. Keep both legs and feet together and jump about one foot to the left, return to center on the next swing, then jump one foot to the right. This is one rep.
High Knee Jump – This combines the Alternating-Feet jump with a high knee lift, kind of like marching in place.
Single Foot Jump – Lift your right foot off the ground and jump on your left foot only for 15-30 seconds. Switch legs for the next interval of 15-30 seconds. As your fitness level improves, you may want to increase the duration of the intervals.
Jumping Jack Jump – Move your legs out-and-in in a jumping jack motion.
Scissor Jump – This is similar to the jumping jack except you will be moving your legs from the front to back alternately in a scissor motion.
Arm Cross Jump – To challenge your upper body coordination, cross the arms in front of you with each jump. This can be done with both the Two-Foot or Alternating-Foot jump.
Note: Some stretches and a few jumping jacks will prepare your body for the high intensity workout that jump rope provides. To prevent injury, it is important to warm up.
When you want something more challenging, try the following routine:
You can keep this pattern going, using whatever jump variations and alternate exercises you wish until you have reached your target workout duration. For a shorter workout, do fewer exercises or use a
1 minute/30 second pattern. For more cardio challenge, increase the jump rope sections to 3 minutes each.
If you want an intense aerobic focused workout without the floor exercises you can replace the body weight moves with slower recovery cardio motions that will bring your heart rate down between high-intensity intervals.
Continue the pattern for desired duration. If you are a beginner, you can reduce the jump rope sessions to 30 seconds.
Jump rope cardio can give you a high intensity workout that is great for heart health and endurance, and will burn so many calories that you will be able to see the fat melting off your body.
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I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.