Remember jumping rope as a kid? Well, now you should make it part of your serious calorie-zapping plan. Jumping rope incinerates 100 big ones in fewer than 8 minutes. “When it comes to cardio, nothing burns better than jumping rope, and it tones head to toe,” says Gerard Calvo, group fitness manager of Equinox in New York City and creator of its Rope Burn class. Fine-tune your form with his tips, then hop to it for up to 5 minutes for a warm-up, 20 minutes for a full cardio session or even only 30 seconds between strength sets to drop pounds by leaps and bounds.
Know the Ropes
Before you jump, find the perfect type for your skill level:
For newbies: Plastic beads on the Harbinger rope make a sound when they hit the ground; time your skips to the clink of the links. $15; Amazon.com
For endurance: A boxer’s go-to training weapon, a leather rope is heavy, so it punches up intensity. $18; Everlast.com
For tricksters: Ball bearings in the handles and the slick rubber material of the Deluxe speed rope ensure that spinning it quickly is a cinch. $11; ValeoInc.com
Get the Best Fit
The right-sized rope for your height is key for a good swing. For the ideal length (most ropes are 9 to 11 feet long), stand on the center and pull up on the handles. They should hit at the armpits. Too long? Tie a knot at each end. Too short? Swap it out.
Hold elbows at sides, bent 90 degrees, with arms slightly forward, palms up. For smooth turns, it’s all in the wrists. Rotate hands, not the entire arm, in small circles. Contracting shoulders, triceps and biceps throughout will help you control your revolutions and sculpt arms.
Keep neck relaxed and gaze ahead—resist the urge to look at your feet—to keep spine aligned. Lift chest while lowering shoulders to avoid hunching, which can also strain your back.
Cue Your Core
Engage ab muscles the entire time; a tight middle helps you maintain proper posture and stability, protecting lower back and knees. Bonus: It’ll tone your tummy, too!
Stick the Landing
Jump on the balls of your feet (heels should never hit), bringing toes only 1 inch off floor or just enough to clear the rope. Shoot for a quiet landing with soft knees to ease impact. Wear cross-trainers with extra cushioning, and a sports bra to ban bounce.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to put your skills to the test with this fun rope routine. Bye-bye, jiggle!
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