jump ropes 003

jump rope variety

I like to jump rope though this has not always been the case, at least in my adult life.

A few years ago I was fortunate to spend time with Buddy Lee earning a Jump Rope Specialty Certification.  Among other issues the biomechanics of jumping rope, techniques, training programs, drills and progressions were covered.  Buddy is a very likable guy, totally full of himself in kind of an endearing way, and a jump rope phenom, despite his age. I was not a natural with the rope and many hours later I came out of that workshop with new knowledge, new skills and very achy hips.  Oh, and an autographed photo of Buddy.

I use jumping rope in my own workouts now and I often use ropes when I’m instructing classes.

Jumping is easy to incorporate as part of the warm up for a kettlebell class or to insert as cardio intervals throughout the class.  With private clients jumping drills can be tailored to sport-specific needs or used to keep their heart rates high during peripheral heart action programs in the weight room.  Jumping rope also provides a fantastic option for tabata training.

There is a long list of goodness associated with jumping rope:

  • heart and lung health improvements, notching up cardiovascular endurance
  • balance, coordination and rhythm training
  • speed, agility and quickness
  • an inexpensive piece of equipment, easy to purchase just about anywhere
  • minimum space requirement and highly portable – I put a jump rope in my back when I trekked around Morocco
  • easy to learn with a whole lot of opportunity for progression and variation
  • fun, fun, fun
  • anaerobic conditioning
  • accessible during bad weather
  • improve posture and reflex time
  • make you smarter, no kidding
  • burn calories – always a doubtful calculation at best, ignore those crazy claims of 1000 calories an hour!  But 10 minutes of jumping rope at a working speed is about equivalent to the aerobic work of 30 minutes of jogging.

Jean Blaydes, an educational consultant (actionbasedlearning.com), writes:

…researchers are learning that physical activity like jumping rope also prepares the brain for optimal learning.

Here are just a few ways that jumping rope may help prepare the brain for learning.

  • Raising heart rate gets more blood to the brain, feeding it needed nutrients and oxygen for heightened alertness and mental focus.
  • Aerobic exercise grows new brain cells in rodents, and promising research suggests that may also apply to humans. In short, jumping rope is an exercise that allows both brain hemispheres to perform parallel.
  • The vestibular system that creates spatial awareness and mental alertness is strengthened through activities such as jumping rope. Balance and jumping activities provide the student with a framework for reading and other academic skills.
  • Rhythmic aspects of jumping rope can develop the internal dialogue needed to establish basic reading skills. Beat awareness and beat competency simulate the basic rhythm patterns of our language that need to be established for better language acquisition.
  • Physical activity reduces stress.  Cardiovascular exercise places the brain into homeostasis and contributes to balancing the body’s chemistry, electrical and organ systems. Exercise can have similar benefits as some anti-depressant medications.

So, go now and get yourself a rope.

  • Start off with an adjustable speed rope, made of lightweight plastic. Step on the center of the rope with one foot and pull both handles up until the tips reach your shoulders – this is a good starting length. You can shorten the rope for advanced speed as you become more proficient.
  • Most folks will advise you to wear decent cross trainers on your feet.  There is merit to that.  I prefer to jump rope barefoot.  This, too, is good.
  • Jump only high enough to clear the rope (about 1 inch off the ground) while landing lightly on the balls of the feet. Make your jump as quiet as possible.  This makes jumping rope a low impact activity.
  • Keep your torso upright and focused straight ahead, along with a straight ahead gaze.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides (at a 45-degree angle). While turning the rope, make small circles with your wrists. Learn to coordinate the rope swing with each jump.
  • Maintain a relaxed upper body and shoulders.
  • Progress slowly, and always take breaks as needed.  Stretch your calves regularly, especially in the beginning.
  • Count the number of jumps you complete in 30 seconds and double the number to find your rotations per minute.  When you can jump at a speed of 120 – 140 rpm and can complete about 500 rotations, you’ll be ready to incorporate varying jump techniques and drills.
  • Most of all, enjoy!

And, when you get really good with your rope, try some of the advanced skills.  Here’s Buddy Lee, with his special style, to show you how:

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