FORGET spinning or running, those in the know are taking it back to the playground and skipping their way to good health.
Why? Because not only is it dirt cheap (a basic plastic rope costs about £5), but skipping is a simple full-body workout that torches calories. What’s not to like?
First, make sure your rope is long enough. Stand on the rope with legs hip-width apart – the ends not the handles should touch your armpits.
Then, off you go! You don’t need to learn the technique (because you probably did that when you were five) and it’s one of the most effective workouts around. No wonder the likes of Kate Hudson, Kim Kardashian West and Adriana Lima have extolled the virtues of “jumping rope”.
Boxers have been incorporating skipping into their exercise regime for years – and for good reason. Ten minutes of skipping can burn between 100 and 150 calories. “Skipping is a great cardio workout,” says Lewis Dove, a former amateur boxer. “But it also improves coordination and works every muscle in the whole body. You need your core engaged to keep your posture upright, you’re using your calf muscles as you’re on your toes the whole time, and every time you turn the rope, you’re engaging your forearms and shoulders.”
A study comparing the effects of half an hour of daily jogging with ten minutes of skipping found that skippers and joggers displayed equal improvements in cardio fitness after six weeks.* So if you can skip for five minutes at the start and end of every day, you’ll be boosting your health.
Skipping also has a surprising beneficiary – your bones. Jump-based activities, such as skipping or rebounding (trampoline-based exercise), are known to strengthen bones. One study that analysed young women who skipped regularly over two years found that it increased their bone mineral density.** However, skipping is a high-impact activity and a little goes a long way – so don’t be tempted to do it every day for hours (your joints won’t thank you).
Try the AGT X Nike class at DW Fitness First gyms nationwide, which includes a skipping section. Or head to your local boxing gym for a session and you’ll find skipping on the menu.
Elsewhere, Lewis has been teaching the Whiplash skipping classes at Gymbox gyms in London for two years, where sessions combine skipping techniques with moves like jump squats and burpees, while On The Ropes group classes offer opportunities for improving technique. Alternatively, you can give it a go in your own back garden with our skipping circuit below.
Weigh up the benefits
Taking skipping fitness seriously? A weighted rope will increase your calorie burn and challenge your muscles further. You might also want to try a Tangram Factory Smart Rope, £69.99, Amazon.co.uk, which logs your workout data and syncs it to your phone, and has built-in LEDs on the rope that show you how you’re doing mid-session.
You could also use a regular rope with an app such as Crossrope (free), which will guide you through hundreds of skipping-based workouts and tutorials (playground rhymes optional). Ultimately, though, you don’t need a fancy rope or class for a full-body workout. You just need a rope.
Try It At Home
Tim Andrews, head of UK gym floor experience at DW Fitness First, suggests a five-move circuit, doing each exercise for one minute with a 30 second rest, and the whole circuit three times.
- Start with single jumps;
- Next, move on to double jumps, where the rope goes under your feet twice. This can be hard to master, so good luck!;
- Then, try jumping forward 6in then back 6in on each skip;
- Try jumping jack skips, where your feet alternate being wide apart and close together;
- Finally, skip on alternate feet, hopping from one foot to the other.
- Sources: *Murray State University **The Chinese University of Hong Kong
- For more information visit Gymbox.com, Meetup.com/ontheropes, Dwfitnessfirst.com
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