When jumping rope, your feet only leave the ground by inches.
Jumping rope isn't just for the playground -- it's part of a high-intensity aerobic workout. Choosing the right rope gives you the speed and power you need for your jump rope exercise. Stick to grown-up versions of jump ropes to ensure the length is correct and that the rope is durable enough to withstand some pounding.
Going Old School
Some of the least expensive jump rope options are the ones that have been around for years, such as those made of actual cloth rope. These can work for beginners who are just learning the rhythm and balance necessary for jumping rope, but as you progress with your skills and speed, these quickly become outdated. The cloth rope doesn't cut through the air like more modern versions, so it won't let you get up to high speeds. The same is true of beaded ropes, which are covered with long plastic beads to help extend the life of the rope beneath. They cut a little faster through the air, but are still best for beginners. These ropes also work well for moves such as the Ali shuffle, when you kick one foot forward with each hop, and kickbacks, when you kick one foot up toward your rear with each hop. These styles incorporate more of your quadriceps and hamstrings in your jump rope workout.
Speed It Up
Speed ropes take you to the next level of jumping rope. Made of thin PVC, these streamlined jump ropes slice through the air -- your speed is limited by how quickly you rotate your wrists. Two different versions of speed ropes exist: one with normal handles and one with ball bearings in the handles. The ball bearing versions are for more experienced and serious jump ropers, helping you keep up the speed longer and perform tricks such as crossovers as you jump. Crossovers, where you cross your arms in front of you, engage your shoulders and back as well as your legs. Running in place as you jump -- alternating feet with each jump and lifting your knees high -- gets your gluteus, quadriceps and hamstrings more of a workout.
Making It Harder
Give your arms more of a workout by using jump ropes with weighted handles, usually found on speed ropes. These are heavier to hold, making it harder for your arms to withstand long durations. Your forearms and the biceps and triceps in your upper arms must compensate for the weight, and your abdominals and back have a tougher time keeping you from slouching, giving those muscles more of a workout.
Do Jump Right
With any type of jump rope, proper form is key to getting the most out of your workout. Bounce on the balls of your feet, which targets the muscles in your calves. You also engage the muscles in your thighs and hips to give you lift and hold your balance when you land on your toes. Hold the handles close to your sides with your elbows bent, with your hands falling about waist level. Turn only your wrists to move the rope; the rest of your arms and upper body should be still with your back straight.
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