Amidst all the various exercises, routines, and machines available to help us get into better shape, it's easy to overlook the fact that skipping is an amazing way to enhance your cardiovascular endurance and strengthen key muscles in your lower body, without the need for belonging to a health club or purchasing expensive equipment.
Boxers and professional fighters consider skipping an absolute "must" as part of their overall training because it helps them with their conditioning, footwork and strength.
To help new contenders pick up a jump rope, we wanted to give an overview as to how jumping rope can help you become a better boxer and five drills that you can perform right away.
How Skipping Helps You Become A Better Boxer
Boxing is truly a full body sport, as your footwork and lower body strength are what power your ability to deliver and avoid your opponent's punches.
Now, think of the coordination required to jump rope. Your hands and wrists have to turn the rope at a constant pace, in a way that synchronizes with the pace and frequency of your jumps. In other words, jumping rope requires the same level of "total body coordination" required in boxing, where your feet, lower body, and upper body are all connected.
Upper & Lower Body Coordination
Fighters work so hard to master their hand-eye-foot coordination, and the ability to optimally utilize all of these elements at the same time when training or during a fight. Skipping is an essential way to train your body to have all of these elements work together.
Jumping rope helps you practice the ability to "stay light," keeping your weight on the balls of your feet, and quickly moving your body with all your weight positioned as such. Jumping rope is a great way to train your body into learning how to move around in the same manner that a boxer moves around the ring.
The vast majority of people think that jogging or running is the best way to increase your overall cardiovascular endurance. While running is an important part of training for fighters of any skill level (and why you’ll often hear of professional fighters jogging several miles almost every single day), what if we told you that skipping could provide you the same cardiovascular benefits, in only a fraction of the time.
In one evaluation, a group of college-aged men who performed daily j exercises for only 10 minutes each day demonstrated the same levels of improvement to their cardiovascular health as individuals who jogged for 30 minutes a day.
Think about that: jumping rope can provide you with the same amount of conditioning as running a few miles at a solid pace, but in a fraction of the time, and without ever having to leave your house!
Other Jump Rope Benefits
If becoming a better boxer isn't at the top of your priority list right now, there are numerous other benefits for incorporating skipping training into your training program. Here are a few bonus reasons to do skipping exercises.
If becoming a better boxer isn't at the top of your priority list right now, there are numerous other benefits for incorporating jump rope training into your training program. Here are a few bonus reasons to do jump rope exercises.
While we've already covered the benefits of cardio under the umbrella of strength and conditioning, it's important to reiterate the importance of cardio beyond endurance training. By skipping as a solitary exercise or incorporating it into a HIIT workout, you can help lower your blood pressure and improve your breathing efficiency. This will not only help you complete the many activities of daily living, but translate into better health and performance no matter what your fitness program of choice happens to be.
Improving bone density is especially important for our female contenders who are at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Jumping rope is a plyometric exercise that requires exerting a lot of force and impact in a relatively short period of time. Jump rope exercises and other plyometric training routines result in an improvement in bone density when regularly incorporated into training. As fractures later in life are closely related to mortality rates, it's not a stretch to conclude that jump rope activity can contribute to a longer life.
A lot of people start a fitness program with weight loss in mind. Skipping training is a powerful cardio exercises that torches calories. In fact, jump rope skipping can burn 10-20 calories per minute. This makes jumping rope a great exercise for those who have weight loss goals and feel as though they lack the time to accomplish them.
The best part about jump rope fitness is that it's accessible to everyone. Beginners who can only jump for 30 seconds at a time and don't know any fun tricks to increase the intensity can get a jump start on their weight loss and fitness goals. Jumpers who have higher fitness levels and can rock double unders with short periods of rest can use this form of training to complement their current routine and change it up to make it fun again when it gets boring.
Best of all, jumping rope is cheap. Whether your goal is to burn calories for weight loss, improve your agility in the off season or be able to keep up with your kids, no other training method beats jump rope training in terms of price and time commitment.
Incorporate Skipping Into Your Training Routine
If you're ready to get started, all you need is a simple, inexpensive skipping rope -- you can find many quality ones with a price tag of less than £10 -- and some patience early on, when you might spend as much time untangling the ropes from your feet as you will actually jumping.
Like any other skill set, it's important to realize that getting better at skipping is a process, especially considering it's been a while since many people have done so. You want to work your way up gradually. Maybe you can only do three to five jumps without getting tangled up, that's ok -- work your way up from there.
Aim to do 10, then work your way up to 20, and then 30 and so on. Your first big "milestone" should be going three full minutes -- simulating one round of boxing -- without tripping up. Even if you do trip up once or twice during those three minutes, that's okay too. Remember, it's about the conditioning of simulating moving around for a full round, as opposed to successfully skipping rope for three straight minutes.
Once you get a baseline comfort with skipping, here are several drills you can try:
Front To Back
We'll assume you're familiar with the standard "two feet together" form of jumping rope since that's the form that most people use when jumping rope.
The first variation to that is the front to back. As the name implies, instead of jumping up and down in one place, your jumps should go slightly forward and backward. Your jumping should maintain the same pace and rhythm, except the landing spot should alternate between slightly in front of where you're standing, and then slightly behind where you're standing.
This is a good warmup exercise to integrate alongside regular jumping rope, as it'll start to engage your lower abdominal and hip muscles, which are the ones that are pushing you back and forth.
Side to Side
This is another great warm-up exercise that's similar to the front to back variation we mentioned above. Only this time, instead of jumping forward and backward, you'll be jumping side to side.
Again, your jumping should maintain the same pace and rhythm for this exercise, only changing where your feet land after each jump. The easiest way to visualize and perform this exercise is to imagine that there is a straight line running in between your feet (when you're standing in place). You want to keep jumping back and forth over that line, ensuring both your feet land on one side of the line, then the other, and so on.
Like the front-to-back variation, this version of jumping rope will help you engage your oblique muscles, which run up and down the sides of your torso.
The Boxer Skip
Once you're comfortable with the ability to jump rope at a steady pace, while also moving your feet around a bit, now it's time to start integrating some boxing-centric footwork. Specifically, we're going to integrate the boxer shuffle into your jump rope routine.
Keeping your feet a couple of inches apart, you want to perform the boxer shuffle at a similar pace and rhythm as you'd maintain when jumping rope. That means you'll shift the weight back and forth between the balls of each foot, almost like you're trying to run in place while keeping your weight exclusively on the balls of your feet.
This might seem awkward at first and lead to a few mess-ups. If you hone in on this, you'll start to develop a real rhythm for the boxer shuffle in general, which will do wonders when you step into the ring or just move around the bag during a Gloveworx session.
Running In Place
If you want to amp up the cardiovascular intensity of your jump rope workout, then this workout is for you. It combines the benefits of running in place with high knees, with the benefits you already get with jumping rope.
As you might guess, this exercise is effectively running in place while jumping rope. Again, you want to ensure you focus on getting your knees up as high as you can while doing so.
However, don't start trying to sprint in place while jumping rope. First, you either want to start off by jumping rope normally or maybe with a bit of a boxer shuffle. From there, start jogging in place, ensuring that you're getting one foot fully off the ground, followed by the other. Once you've got that motion going, start lifting your legs up higher and higher, faster and faster, until you've got a full-on "high knees" going with your jump rope.
Finally, we've got an exercise that's going to blast your calves and your lower body, while ramping up your heart rate and calorie burn.
As the name implies, this exercise is where you want the rope to fully pass under you twice for every jump you make. As you might imagine, this will require you to turn the rope extra fast and jump a bit higher every single time, to ensure that you have enough time to get the rope under you twice.
Once again, we recommend starting off with a regular jump rope pace, with your feet together. From there, start building up the speed at which you turn the rope, to the point where you're almost turning the rope too fast for your regular pace of jumping. After that, start gradually increasing the height at which you make each jump while turning the rope.
To be clear: you're not trying to get enough air to dunk a basketball with each turn. In this exercise, you want to double the usual height you'd jump while skipping rope, at most. Like with any skipping rope exercise, it's about rhythm, timing and consistently elevating your heart rate, as opposed to trying to jump out of the gym.
Making The Jump From A Good Boxer To A Great One
There are no shortage of benefits to incorporating jumping rope into your workout routine, whether you're training to become a better boxer or if you want to get into better shape.
In regards to the former, professional boxers will attest to the fact that jumping rope can enhance your cardiovascular ability, help you with your flexibility and rhythm and improve the muscle tone of your legs, arms and shoulders.
From an overall conditioning standpoint, skipping is a fantastic way to strengthen the most important muscle in your body -- your heart -- while burning a ton of calories in a short amount of time. That’s why we wanted to provide you a list of beginner-to-intermediate drills that you can hopefully start utilizing right away. Once you get good at those, or for those of you who have already mastered the basics, there is a whole slew of advanced jump rope techniques -- like single-arm side swings, double-arm side swings, and crossovers -- that you can try out to take your jump-rope skills to the next level.
Regardless of where your skill level may be right now, if you want to learn how to get better at jumping rope, try out a few of the techniques mentioned above.