Sure, jumping rope is low-tech, but a jump rope workout is one of the best conditioning routines out there. In one movement, you work on speed, strength and agility—and you burn calories too. The American College of Sports Medicine calculates that a 170-pound person can burn 80.97 calories in five minutes of high intensity/high speed jumping. That's 320 calories in 20 minutes, not to mention the isometric training the body undergoes while maintaining rope speed. Jump rope workouts also improve coordination and increase cardiac output.
For the beginner, jump rope exercises can be as simple as double-leg skips. Of course, you'll mess up, but sticking with it will lead you into higher-speed movements that increase cardiac output in shorter bursts than sprinting and don't require 10 to 40 meters of running room.
Once you've mastered simple jumps, you can train with the Tabata Protocol. This method was developed on a cycle ergometer, but it can be applied to jumping rope (or any exercise, for that matter):
- Begin with a two-minute, moderately-paced warm-up.
- At the two-minute mark, go as hard as you can for 20 seconds.
- Slow down to a moderate pace for 10 seconds.
- Speed back up for another 20 seconds. Stay with the rhythm for a total of eight minutes.
- Follow up with three to five minutes of cool-down to prevent blood pooling in the legs, which increases lactic acid build-up.
In 13 minutes, you're done. Roll this into your dynamic warm-up or do it at the end of your workout to help reduce lactic-acid buildup from previous training. Removing lactic acid prevents the onset of muscle soreness and better prepares you for the next practice, game or training.