When we asked what you liked from last year’s fitness challenges, many of you said that you enjoyed having something new to add to your routine. So we’ll continue the challenges in 2019 by highlighting some under-appreciated exercises you should know.
First up: jump rope! Just a short stint of jumping will get your heart pumping quickly, which makes it great for a cardio option during HIIT or circuit workouts. Boxers will jump rope for minutes on end as a cardio exercise, but if you’re new to the exercise, start with 30 seconds at a time and see how you feel. (I’ll have sore calves tomorrow, and I don’t think I’ll be the only one.)
What kind of jump rope do I need?
Any kind will do, at first. I got one for $5 at Target that has a gadget in the handle to count your jumps. The gadget broke instantly but the rope still works! Ropes made for the playground can be squeaky or annoying to use, but if you can take a few hops and everything seems fine, you’re good to go.
If you’re going to buy a rope specifically for fitness, consider one of the thin light ones that Crossfitters and boxers like. The thinner the rope, the faster it can whip through the air. That means you have a better chance of being able to do double-unders, where you swing the rope twice for each jump.
How long should it be?
Stand on the middle of the rope, and pull the handles up toward your shoulders. The tops of the handles should be about armpit height. A longer rope (shoulder height) is ok for beginners, but if you want to get the rope going really fast, you may prefer it a little below armpit height. You’ll figure this out as you go along.
Fitness ropes are all adjustable, so set it to a comfortable length. Kids’ jump ropes may be too short, so be aware of that if you’re shopping at a toy store.
I have a rope, now what?
For this week, just get to know it. Try jumping for 30 seconds (or for 50 jumps, if you’d prefer to count) and then take a rest. If you do workouts that include push-ups and the like, jumping rope is a good way to get your heart pumping between sets. Give it a try and we’ll be back next week with more.