If you’re looking for something new to add to your exercise routine, how about adding rope jumping? It’s a simple workout that packs a big punch.
“It’s wonderful for agility, timing, coordination, foot speed and endurance,” says Rene Bibaud of Ropeworks in Seattle.
Bibaud, a five-time world champion, ESPN commentator and former artist and coach for Cirque Du Soleil, considers the jump rope the single best fitness tool available.
“You can do it almost anywhere, it’s very portable and inexpensive,” says Bibaud. “It forces you to be quick on your feet. That’s why a lot of athletes choose to jump rope as a way to stay in shape.”
Jumping rope can improve balance and coordination, strengthen bones and muscles and increase mental alertness.
“When I go jump for 10 minutes or so I’m much sharper in whatever I’m doing,” says Bibaud.
Bibaud says researchers are discovering that physical activity like jumping rope also prepares the brain for optimal learning.
“Rhythmic aspects of jumping rope can develop the internal dialogue needed to establish basic reading skills,” she says.
Anybody can jump rope
Jumping rope is great for all ages and body types, but of course If you haven’t picked up a jump rope in a while, you’re going to want to start slowly.
First is the set-up. Wear athletic shoes and jump on an athletic surface such as a sport court or hard wood floor. Avoid jumping on hard or concrete surfaces. Bibaud says a 4-by-6-foot piece of plywood can turn any spot into a jump rope platform.
Most kids use an eight-foot rope, most adults need nine-foot or 10-foot rope. To ensure a proper fit, stand on the bottom of your rope with both feet. Pull up the sides. The top of the rope should not pass your shoulders. If your rope is not adjustable, you can simply tie knots in the rope below the handle.
“The goal is that during a bout of jumping, the rope slightly grazes the ground right in front of your toes,” says Bibaud. “If the rope is smacking the ground, then it’s too long.”
An easy way to begin is to go 10 and 10.
“Do 10 jumps and rest 10 seconds, even if it feels easy,” says Bibaud. “Do that for about 5 minutes.”
“The point is not lengthy bouts of jump rope,” she says. “The initial phase should be moderately challenging and fun with focus on developing your timing and technique.”
Eventually move up to 20 jumps and take a break and do that until it starts to feel smoother.
“Very short bouts of proper rope jumping will yield faster results and better technique if you commit to a regular routine of jumping rope,” says Bibaud.
Over time, with short bouts of practice, your timing, coordination and fitness level will improve and you can jump for longer periods.
Bibaud says early on you’ll make a lot of mistakes, but that’s OK.
“Focus on effort and enjoyment, not results,” she says. “Through regular short sessions over time, your results will follow.”
Photo courtesy of Rene Bibaud