Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jump Rope

One of cheapest tools you can use for increasing fitness is the jump rope.

How do I use it? The basics are simple. Get a jump rope, and jump. Do rounds for time, count skips, or some combination of the two. Single foot hops, double hops, slalom jumps, running in place, and double-unders (two passes of the rope per jump) are all useful methods, but the basic jump works fine too.

What's the downside? Only that it requires some skill. You will develop good timing with jumping rope, but you need to put in some practice. At first, you'll spend a fair amount of time hitting yourself with the rope or stepping on it. Probably more time than you spend jumping. But the more skilled you get, the more exercise results it can give you.

How long and how much? A typical jumprope is under $10, often around $5. Don't be fooled into thinking you need a speed rope, a special cardio jumprope, a weighted rope, or some special construction. Find a cheap rope to start with, either plastic or cloth. Save the special ropes for when you've got jumping rope down pat and know what you're looking for in a new rope.
Make sure it rotates around the handles easily, and cut it to size. The rule-of-thumb on size is to stand on the rope and hold the handles up. They should just reach your armpits. If so, that's about the right length for you. Longer and it'll swing slowly and catch on things (and impair your jumping), shorter and it'll be much harder to jump (or impossible, if short enough).

Don't overlook this excellent option for warming up (it involves the whole body), fat loss training (burns a lot of calories), and cardio (it's not hard to get your heart rate up with a jump rope).

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