No, I’m not talking about shades of grey here. I’m talking about 9ft of rope and the will to use it. The undeniably awesome Sac Fitness Fairy Roseanne has strongly suggested that I start doing daily jump rope sessions, and I finally caved in and, of course, bought absolutely the wrong rope.
Seriously? Yes. Being the tech fiend I am I looked at reviews on Amazon and found myself an adjustable “speed rope”, apparently the “best for double-unders”. I’ve done a double under. They’re neat. However, what the reviews failed to mention is that attempting to complete a double under, or even just failing to properly jump rope with this magnificent marvel hurts. It hurts like hell.
Let’s back up. I’m sure everyone has seen the proto-typical boxer jumping rope. My gym, Ultimate Fitness, is full of toned and ripped MMA guys bouncing up and down while their ipods blast away into their ears. It is a cliche at this point. But there is a very good reason for this, outside of running, jumping rope is one of the lowest barrier to entry cardio workouts you can do. A rope is less than $10. If you’re creative it can be less than that. My amazing world record shattering speed rope of death was a wallet friendly $8.
However, like running, jumping rope takes some practice to do it right. I definitely recommend going to a gym and finding a trainer that can really guide you, because although it looks fairly easy, there’s subtle things that you don’t see. For example, my buddy Todd had me come over to his place to watch my form and immediately could see why I was swearing so much.
1) The rope was too long. Usually the trick is to stand on the rope and pull the ends up your body. The ROPE should end at your arm pits. On mine, the handles did. Turns out, that’s more than enough to repeatedly whip yourself in the head, arms and ankles.
2) When jumping, lock your elbows to your sides. Economy of motion is key and vitally important. If you’re flailing, you’re going to have a bad time, and more importantly, you’re going to lose rhythm. I already have no rhythm so this was especially damaging.
3) Jump as little as possible, from one foot to the other if you can manage it. The best rope jumpers rock side to side, in a motion very like that of running, as they jump. I look like a coke addled bunny rabbit trying to get out of a paper bag. This is important because you’re going to be doing a whole lot of reps, and all that bouncing, if done wrong, ends up working your knees into a jelly. Gentle, easy hops, side to side, minimize impact and spread the workout across more muscles.
4) Get a good rope. This is easier said than done. As it turns out, the idea of what makes a “good” rope is a hotly debated topic. My buddy Todd (who essentially makes a living by being in ridiculously good shape) adores his $7 no name brand plastic rope with ball bearings in the handle. He tried jumping my speed rope and shook his head. “No way dude. This thing is going to hurt me.” he said, and handed it back. If possible, try out some ropes at the gym and when you find one you like, ask where they got it. If you get lucky and someone likes you, they might be able to buy one for you and you can pay them back. Or you can get the brand and model and try to find it at Amazon or a boxing supply place.
There is no secret to jumping rope, other than it is one of the worst kept secrets for getting in cardio when running is either unavailable or uncomfortable. It is also a fantastic warmup. I did 10 minutes today before a quick 2 mile run and it really helps get the feet and ankles limber. Just try to keep from giving yourself 40 lashes. Unless that’s your thing, of course.