Skipping is a fantastic training ‘add-on’ for any sport and a great way to improve aerobic fitness, co-ordination, balance and power. It’s an excellent calorie burner, using up to 70-90 kcal in 10 minutes. “Don’t underestimate the physical demands of skipping,” says Mitchell Phillips of StrideUK. “It’s a tough workout and your calves will suffer if you’re not cautious to begin with.” He advises that you start with only a few minutes at a time and gradually build up to the point where you can do 10 minutes. “It doesn’t sound a lot,” he says, “but believe me, it’s hard work!”
“Skipping also improves flexibility, co-ordination and balance,” says Sue Dale of the British Rope Skipping Association. “You’ll see improvement in muscle tone particularly in the thighs, buttocks and calves. And, as skipping is a high impact exercise, it is also particularly beneficial in maintaining bone density and the prevention of osteoporosis.”
Why is it so good for you?
“It is a great way to strengthen and increase the ‘explosive’ recoil power generated from the calf and the Achilles tendon,” says Mitchell. “Not only is it a great drill for strengthening the calves, it’s fantastic for improving balance and co-ordination.”
Research has shown that adding skipping to your training regime improves cadence and running economy too. If, however, you suffer from calf or Achilles problems, you need to proceed with caution. Stretching and using a foam roller on the calves is probably a good idea for anyone taking up skipping, but more so if you have a previous injury or are especially tight.
Where to do it?
It can be done anywhere, but try to avoid skipping on concrete tiled floors. A sprung floor (gym) is ideal, (like that at Esporta on the Thorpe Wood Business Park or Bannatyne’s Health Club, Papryus Road, Werrington) but failing that, skip on grass or a similar soft surface. If you skip indoors, just check the ceiling is high enough.
What equipment do I need?
A good quality ‘fitness’ rope is a must. Look for one with a nice weighty feel to it and check the length by standing on the middle of the rope and pull the handles outwards and up until the rope is taut. The handles should come up to mid chest height. Any higher and you need to shorten it. Check out www.skip-hop.co.uk for a wide selection plus tips on how to skip. Expect to pay around £7-15 for a decent quality ‘fitness’ rope.
You’ll also need to wear your running shoes and, if you’re female, a supportive bra!
How do I do it?
It’s not as easy at it looks and there’s more to skipping than jumping up and down. Timing is key, so start with small jumps and keep your feet together. Try skipping for 20-30 seconds or just see how many times you can jump the rope without getting tangled up. If you manage 10 jumps, aim for 15 next time – until you get to 60 without tripping. You can also incorporate skipping into a circuit – alternate one minute skipping with press ups, squats and lunges for a quick and effective workout. If you’re challenged in the co-ordination department it may be a frustrating process to begin with. But stick with it and you’ll soon reap the rewards.