After some general posts about training we want to write about a more practical topic this time and talk about one of our favorite warm-up tools: The jumping rope. Rope skipping is a very nice way of warming up but it is much more than that.
In what ways you can benefit from it will be covered in this post as well as the common types of jumping ropes and what they are used for.
First of all, as said before, rope jumping is a very efficient full body warm up. The whole body is involved while, if done correctly, the joints are not over-stressed even when starting cold. The intensity can be gradually increased in different ways, for example by increasing the frequency or by using a different step pattern. Most of the ropes don’t use a lot of space so they are easy to take anywhere you want to use them.
Apart from warming up there are a bunch of attributes that can be developed with rope skipping.
- Agility: Boxers have probably always used the jumping rope to improve their “footwork”, meaning the ability to move around the ring efficiently while dodging, attacking and quickly retreating. Although it is often associated with boxers, pretty much everybody can benefit from the agility that comes from regular practice with the rope and most sport-games that are played on land require some kind of footwork.
Here is a nice video showing famous boxers of the past and present who work with the rope. It is a nice clip for those who are a bit into boxing. Quite some names in there. For the others, just pay attention to the different styles and how it evolved over the years.
- Rhythm: Finding the rhythm is maybe the most difficult part for beginners. There is no time to wait for the rope to approach the feet and to decide when to jump over it. One has to constantly rotate the rope with the hands and jump with the same pace, knowing when the rope will be there. The ability to detect and move along a rhythm is one essential aspect of coordination and is required not only in dancing but also in a variety of other sports disciplines like hurdle racing or fencing for example
- Relaxation: It is impossible to jump with the rope for 10 minutes or more if the one jumping is tense. If you see an expert rope skipping it will look almost effortless, the feet barely lift off the ground, just enough that the rope can pass. Also the arms are not moving a lot, at least as long as no tricks or advanced step patterns are done. This is another important aspect of coordination. To move just as much as you need to get the job done and also to use just as much force as needed and not to tense up any muscles that are not required for the task. This ability affects nearly any movement and will let you move more efficiently.
- Endurance: Seeing the movement that is rope skipping, it is quite obvious that it can be used as an endurance work out for example as an alternative to running and cycling. Reasons to use rope skipping can be that you don’t have the space to run and no treadmill available, or you want to mix up your endurance work or you simply enjoy rope skipping more than lets say running. It offers also a lot of possibilities to vary the intensity and is therefore very suitable for interval training.
One more nice thing about the jumping rope is that you can not only increase the intensity, speed or duration of training, but you can also learn various tricks and patterns. There are basically no limits, there is always another trick or step you can work on. That is why it also doesn’t ever get boring and learning new stuff keeps the brain fresh. Just to show you some extreme examples of people who truely mastered this tool.
Here is professional boxer Brian Viloria showing off his jumping rope skills which are quite impressive. Also pay attention to how relaxed he is while doing it.
But it gets even more crazy. This is Rope Jumping world champion Adrienn Banhegyi and I don’t even get what she’s doing.
One disadvantage has to be named though. It can be a bit frustrating when starting with it. It won’t feel that smooth, you might mess up a lot and it might happen that you step over the rope more often than actual jumping. That said, it usually doesn’t take that long to learn the basic jump with both feet at once and it is really worth the effort to get over that initial frustration. It will be rewarding!
Types of ropes
We also want to touch on the different kinds of jumping ropes you can get. At least the most common examples are listed.
Wire cable rope
To me these kinds of ropes are the standard jumping ropes. They are easy to use, and their length is often adjustable. Most of them have some kind of axle bearing built in their handles what makes them rotate quite fast with little effort. Sometimes the rope is made of leather or just plastic. I personally recommend those who come with a steel cable wire covered in plastic. The rope can also be a bit thicker and heavier, that makes it rotate more nicely in my opinion.
Handles and rope are purely made of plastic. Yet they still rotate nicely although they have no axle bearing and are quite lightweight. Advantages of these ropes are their low cost and that they are very easy to take along in any pocket.
Heavy ropes are very good to quickly warm up the entire body. The one on the picture is called a “Thai rope” because these are used by Muay Thai fighters in Thailand for warm up and conditioning. We sometimes use one of these in our group session because they rotate a bit slower and are therefore easy to start with, yet they are extremely effective to warm up also the arms and shoulders in a short amount of time. They dont feel that heavy when picked up them when used with some speed they create quite some centrifugal force that can be felt in hands, arms and shoulders. Here is how it looks in action.
I would not really call them jumping ropes but they can be and sometimes are used for that. They are mostly used in rhythmic gymnastics for all kinds of tricks, jumps and more. Here is an example.
While those skills are surely amazing I would not recommend getting one of those for rope skipping. They have no handles and are lightweight but thick at the same time what makes them quite slow.
Anyways, if you have access to different kinds of ropes, try to mix it up sometimes. Each rope will feel different and the body and nervous system has to adapt to each of them. Constant adaptations keep us flexible.
So then, happy rope skipping and thanks for reading,