Skip Your Way to Fitness
For many people, skipping conjures up images of girls with ponytails chanting rhymes in the school playground. Runners should be willing to view skipping in a different light, however, as it can easily be added to a training routine to add variety and help improve co-ordination, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.
Any male runners worried that skipping is not macho enough only need look at boxers, who use skipping as a crucial part of their pre-fight training. Skipping is incorporated in many gym classes too, because it is a high-impact exercise that is great for trimming thighs and buttocks, as well as building bones.
A 10-minutes session of skipping can burn anything between 70 and 110 extra calories depending on a person’s weight and exertion level. Yet perhaps the best thing about skipping is that is can be done just about anywhere at any time. Just slip a skipping rope into a pocket or kit bag and you are ready to go.
Rope LengthThe first task for runners looking to add skipping to their training routine is to find a suitable rope; one that is the correct length for your height. In order to check the length, stand on the middle of the rope and pull the handles up until the rope is taut. The handles should reach the middle of the chest. If the handles are above chest level, the rope will need shortening, but most modern ropes come with instructions. In terms of footwear, aerobic or cross trainer shoes are best, as these will cushion the forefoot and provide stability.
For those who have not skipped for a very long time or have not done it before, there is a danger of ending up in a tangled mess on the floor if you just launch into it. Therefore, it makes sense to practice your timing first.
Small JumpsHold the handles of the rope in one hand and, with the rope at your side, rotate the handles and jump when the rope hits the floor. To help keep the impact on ankles and knees to a minimum, keep the jumps small. Remember, as long as feet are raised about an inch off the ground they will clear the rope.
Once confident that your timing is correct, you can progress to jumping over the rope, but bear in mind that skipping is a strenuous activity, so take it easy at first. Try skipping for 30 to 40 seconds at a time and jogging or walking on the spot for 30 seconds before repeating. As fitness improves, increase the skipping time.
Once the basics have been mastered, you can make the skipping workout more interesting by adding some trickier jumps. Try a hop jump, hopping on one leg for a few jumps and then alternate legs, or do jumping jacks as you skip (land one jump with legs apart, the next with legs together). Maybe try to alternate feet in a jogging movement as you skip, or hop on one foot and kick the other to the front or behind the body.