One of the best – and least expensive – forms of exercise you can do is to skip. It’s also easy to do if you travel because a skipping rope doesn’t take up much room in an overnight bag or backpack.
But it’s amazing when I suggest this to someone that, even though most of us did it when we were young, we baulk at the idea now or say we can’t do it.
The reason it’s good for you is that it builds cardio and endurance like nothing else can. It requires full body movement, good coordination and engages your reflexes. And it’s tough! It’s amazing how many fairly fit people, who can run 15 minutes on the treadmill without a worry, find it difficult to keep going with skipping – once they’ve re-mastered the art.
To help you get into it, here are some simple tips I’ve picked up to help you get skipping again.
1. Get the right rope
Get a rope that has a ball-bearing handle and has a light weight poly-nylon cord. You can buy them from around $10-30 at sports stores or online at various outlets. In terms of length, it should hit the ground in front of you. It’s always better to get a rope that is too long than too short. If it’s too long, just tie a know near the handle.
2. It’s all in the wrist
Your wrists generate the movement in skipping, and they also act as your accelerator. Keep your wrists close to your hips and your arms as still as possible. The faster your wrist turns, the more force you get going into the action.
3. Stay on the balls of your feet
Your heels shouldn’t touch the ground until you stop! It’s okay to have a small bend in the knee but the less bend you have, the faster you will go. If you’ve had a knee injury – and assuming it’s okay for you to try skipping – then you should skip with a bended knee to protect it as much as possible.
4. When you see the rope, jump!
Your hands a smarter and faster than your legs so the key is coordination. When you see the rope, you know it’s time to jump. It might take practice if you haven’t done it for a while, e.g. 20 years or more, but it is a simple and natural action so keep at it. And, as I said, it is a great workout.
The next question is how long should you skip for? This depends on what else you do in your exercise regime and your general fitness level.
- If you’re just starting, try 1 minute at a time, three times a day. That doesn’t sound like much but it is challenging. Then 2 minutes at a time and so on. A good warm-up for any exercise is skipping for about 3-4 minutes.
- If you want to incorporate skipping as a more important part of your fitness regime, gradually increase the time until you can manage 10 minutes at a time twice a day. But don’t expect this will happen in a week or two. It could take a while depending on your current level of fitness. 10 minutes of skipping is quite a lot!
- If you’re already super-fit, go direct to 20-30 once daily. I wouldn't recommend any more than this as I think you're better off varying your fitness program.