“Our sport is your sport’s punishment,” says Shaun Hamilton, event coordinator for this weekend’s World Jump Rope Championship. Jumping can definitely be a cardio killer — but it’s also a thriller if you know how to do it right. Hamilton has a few pointers:
Learn the Ropes
If you haven’t picked up a rope since your playground days, Hamilton suggests going for the beaded kind, which will keep its shape while you improve your form. To determine proper length, there’s a simple way to measure. Stand in the middle of the rope, holding the ends in each hand as high as you can pull. They should come up to your armpits. As you get better, you’ll find it’s not necessary to have something so long. “You’ll start shrinking that rope to your ribs,” says Hamilton, who also suggests graduating to a “licorice” style rope more geared toward speed and tricks. Track your progress with a simple drill: “See how many times you can jump without missing,” he says.
One easy way to make jumping rope harder is to pick up the pace. The key to hopping to it is to separate your feet and use a jogging motion. “With every revolution, you switch your feet,” Hamilton says. To make counting less of a chore, just note the number of times your right foot smacks down and then double it. At this weekend’s championships, you can expect to see athletes manage to do close to 200 jumps in just 30 seconds, Hamilton says. Start with that length of time, but you can gradually increase your intervals for more of a challenge. The equivalent of the marathon in jump rope is a three-minute speed event.
You’ve jumped rope solo and maybe tried double Dutch. But have you done it in a duo? There’s a technique called “wheel,” in which you and a partner each have a rope and stand side by side. You pass one end of your rope to your friend, and you grab one end of his. Then you turn your ropes in unison while you both jump. “It challenges you to think with other parts of your brain,” Hamilton says. As long as you manage not to get tangled up, it’s pretty good for your body, too.