Skipping – not just for kids
When was the last time you skipped? Chances are it was in the school playground but skipping isn’t just for kids. In the world of sport, boxers are among the best-known proponents of skipping but many other professional athletes include skipping in their training programme – and for good reason.
The advantages of skipping
Skipping is one of the best cardio exercises you can perform, strengthening the heart and lungs and burning up to 900 calories per hour. Because it is such a high-intensity exercise, skipping provides a time-effective workout. Experts estimate that 10 minutes of skipping can burn just as many calories as 30 minutes of jogging.
In addition, skipping improves agility, balance and co-ordination, and because it is a weight-bearing exercise, regular skipping can also help to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
A skipping rope is an inexpensive addition to your home gym kit and is also portable, which means you can train almost anywhere.
Before you get started, it’s essential to choose the right length rope. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stand on the centre of the rope and pull the handles upwards. They should come to around chest height.
Many beginners make the mistake of tiring themselves out by jumping too high and too vigorously. You should aim to make the most efficient movement possible, jumping just high enough to clear the rope and turning it with the wrists. Keep your shoulders relaxed and chin up. Looking ahead rather than at the rope will help you maintain your balance.
Don’t worry if you find it difficult to begin with. Most people take a few sessions to get to grips with their skipping technique.
Skipping for beginners
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can begin to build up your fitness level. Aim to include three short skipping sessions of around 10 minutes into your training programme each week.
Before you start your workout, you should have a thorough warm up. Three to five minutes of light cardio activity such as walking or jogging on the spot should be sufficient.
Because skipping is an intense exercise, the best way to begin is with interval training which alternates bouts of skipping with rest periods. At first you may be able to jump for only 15 seconds before you need a rest but as you become fitter you will be able to increase the amount of time spent skipping and decrease the rest period.
After a couple of weeks you should be aiming for a jump/rest ratio of 1:1 eg skipping for one minute and resting for one minute. Keep challenging yourself by increasing the amount of time spent skipping by a few seconds each session until you can skip for several minutes without a break.
Once you’ve established a solid technique and good level of fitness, you will probably be looking for new ways to make your workout more difficult.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Increase your speed by turning the rope more quickly.
- Try hopping on one leg eg 10 hops on the left and then 10 on the right.
- Change the direction of the rope, swinging from front to back.
- Ski hop – instead of jumping on the spot, spring from side to side as if you were ski-ing slalom.
- Jumping jacks – turn the rope as you normally would, but jump your legs apart as you clear the rope and bring them back together next time you jump.
- Spotty dogs – scissor your legs forwards and backwards as you jump.