The 15-Minute Cardio Workout
One of the most valuable, yet inexpensive and portable pieces of equipment is the jump rope. Jumping rope has been a useful training tool for everyone from boxers to martial artists to runners to basketball players. (If you want to see some real athleticism, come to Brooklyn and watch a group of girls shred the sidewalk using two ropes at once.) Not only are ropes cheap, they fit neatly into a briefcase or backpack and you need a modest amount of floor space and a high ceiling to skip away.
Here are the top-four reasons to jump rope:
- It will improve your cardiovascular endurance.
- Estimates are that you'll burn as much as 200 calories in just 15 minutes. (And the bigger you are, the more calories you'll burn while jumping.)
- You'll help tone your thighs, calves, and even your upper body.
- Rope jumping can help your coordination, balance, and agility.
Choosing a Rope
The proper rope length depends on how tall you are. According to jumprope.com, here's how you figure out how long of a rope to use.
|Length||Suitable for Height|
|7'||up to 4'10"|
|10'||5'11" or over|
Types of Rope
Beaded ropes are relatively inexpensive and durable. On the downside, they aren't very fast, so if you're a skilled jumper you may want something else. Woven ropes are lightweight and as a result it's hard to get them moving quickly. While they're great for the abrasive pavement of a schoolyard, they're not our favorites.
Rubber ropes have distinct pros and cons all of which Jonathan learned the hard way. The good news is that because they're heavy, they're fast. The bad news is that when you get them rolling and you miss, it really hurts. Jonathan refers to his rubber rope as the "negative reinforcement rope." Despite the repeated blows to his shins, Jonathan never goes on a road trip without his trusty rope, since you never know what the weather will be or if your flight will be delayed. As long as a fitness fiend has a rope, he's well armed.
Our favorite rope is the leather or vinyl speed rope. It's heavy enough to get some good speed, but not so much that your upper body gets too tired from spinning the rope. If you get one with a good pair of handles with ball bearings, you'll be flying.
Whichever type of rope you choose, here's a jump rope workout:
- Do a quick warm-up of some light "ropeless" jumping.
- The basic jump is with both legs, pushing off and landing on the balls of your feet. Keep your arms at your side, just above your waist.
- As you progress, you can try advanced techniques such as double jumps, in which the rope rotates twice while you're airborne. This obviously requires you to use more leg power, but also puts your upper body to work more than single jumps. Start off by adding an occasional double mixed in with your singles.
- Crossovers will impress your friends and spice up the workout. There's no need to break your jumping cadence just bring your arms inward and cross the rope in front of you.
- Single-leg hops are a good way to vary your workout. Try alternating legs, or do several repeated hops per leg to give your calves an extra workout.
Jump Rope Tips
- Jump only high enough to clear the rope. Many people leap too high and exhaust themselves after just a minute or two.
- Keep your wrists close to your body as you spin the rope.
- Wear good sneakers quality cross-trainers are best. Running shoes elevate your heel a little too much, though they'll do if necessary.
- Land gently on the balls of your feet without locking your knees.
- Stand tall. If you have to duck to get under the rope, it's either too short or you're holding your arms too low.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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