Back in primary school, skipping reigned supreme at recess time (along with handball and elastics, of course).
Whether you were going it alone or showing off your sweet double Dutch skills, it was just about the coolest way to pass time in the playground. It seems our Year 3 selves were onto something, because skipping also happens to be a damn good way to stay fit and strong — even as an adult.
“Skipping’s great for your cardio, and if you know how to skip properly it tends to be a lower-impact exercise than intense running,” explains Blake Worrall-Thompson, personal trainer and creator of the Six Weeks 2 Sexy program.
“To a degree it will help tone your calves up as well. If you look at boxers who do a lot of skipping, they tend to have quite defined, strong calves, which can help with all types of lower body exercises and cardio exercises.”
Those benefits are nothing to be sneezed at, but arguably the best thing about skipping is how ridiculously cheap it is. You can pick up a jump rope for less than a tenner (hello, Target) and boom — you’re the proud owner of an effective and simple fitness tool.
Watch: This workout from Paper Tiger will also tone up your legs. (Post continues after video.)
“I tend to use a lot of skipping in my program because it takes up very little space, you can do it in the comfort and safety of your own home,” Worrall-Thompson says.
They’re also compact and easy to carry around with you. You wouldn’t be alone in doing so — last year, Kate Hudson’s trainer told Look magazine the actress carries a skipping rope “in her bag everywhere she goes” and whips it out for quick impromptu workouts.
Now, I know what you’re thinking here: ‘But I haven’t skipped in years, what if I absolutely suck at it?’ I assure you, this will probably be the case — at least initially. I recently acquired a skipping rope, and the first time I took it out for a spin I spent most of the time untangling my (giant) feet.
“If you haven’t done it for a long time, you will find yourself quite heavy on your feet and quite exhausted with it as well,” Worrall Thompson explains. (Phew, it’s not just me then.)
"It's one of those things where, honestly, persistence pays off ... What you'll find is the more time you spend on it the more efficient you become at it."
There are plenty of upsides of skipping, but there's one major detractor: all that jumping can get a little boring after a while. Don't despair — here are four skipping rope-based workouts that will keep things interesting.
1. Know your styles
- Forward skip – rotate the rope forwards through its full range of motion, landing softly on one foot, alternating the landing foot with each skip.
- Backward skip – rotate the rope backwards, landing as you do in the forward skip.
- Double under – rotating the rope forward jump and land with both feet together to achieve two full rotations of the skipping rope. Remember speed and feet height is important for this one.
- Single leg – rotating the rope forwards as you would in the forward skip, only land on one foot.
"Set a timer and conduct each exercise for one minute," Richardson suggests.
When you've finished all four, give yourself a 30 second rest and continue the workout using this pattern: one minute on, 30 seconds rest; 45 seconds on, 20 seconds rest; 30 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. (Post continues after gallery.)
Another simple way to break up the tedium is to change up the pace, by skipping and resting in high-intensity intervals.
"Go as hard as you can and really drive your knees up, almost like running on the spot style, for 30 seconds and then recover for 30 seconds," Worrall-Thompson suggests.
3. Mix it in
If you ask Worrall-Thompson, the best way to use a skipping rope is within a circuit of other strengthening exercises.
"There might be some kind of running, there might be some core exercises, there might be some bodyweight exercises in there — maybe some planks, some squats, some lunges, some pushups. You're using the skipping essentially as a cardio tool," he explains.
"You could get a really effective workout done in 10 to 20 minutes."
Watch: A simple bodyweight circuit you could easily add skipping into, as demonstrated by Sam Wood. (Post continues after video)
4. Make it a game
If you're the type who enjoys pushing yourself, Richardson's favourite skipping game — the 1000Set — should do the trick. It's simple, but it's hard going.
"[Do] 1000 forward skips, but each time you stop you must add 20 skips. Be strict on yourself. No rest," he explains.
Regardless of how you choose to go about it, Worrall-Thompson says your skipping workout should be focused on intensity rather than duration.
"Try and get that heart rate up and you'll get really good results. Essentially, 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate is the zone that you kind of want to work at ... for a lot of people that would be a heart rate of 150+," he advises.
Do you skip for fitness? What's your favourite skipping workout?