If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight – and you know it is – then you might be thinking of taking up jogging to burn off those extra pounds. Sure, it’s a great way to get fit, but it’s also a procrastinator’s dream: It’s too cold out. It’s too hot out. It hurts. It takes too long. It’s no fun running through rain, snow, sleet, plagues of locusts.
So here’s a great way to lose weight fast and excuse-proof your fitness plan from day one: Stay indoors and try skipping rope.
No, it’s not just for kids. Rope skipping can burn twice as many calories as jogging, and anywhere from 600 to 1,000 calories an hour (depending on your weight and the speed and intensity at which you’re jumping). That means you’ll burn, at minimum, 10 calories for every minute you can jump.
If you struggle at first, start slow with just five minutes, add another minute every day, and in just two weeks you’ll be burning at least 200 calories and hitting the shower in 20 minutes or less.
Indeed, jumping rope might be a dieter’s best bet when it comes to cardio. A recent study in Japan found that participants who jumped rope showed greater appetite suppression than those who burned the equivalent number of calories cycling. Not only that, it’s one of the most effective ways to improve stamina, agility and balance, making it a favorite exercise among the world’s top athletes and trainers. So if you’re looking for a serious calorie burn in a seriously short amount of time, skip the gym and start skipping rope.
Here are five tips to jump-start your program:
1. Get the Right Rope: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on the right rope; there are great options available for less than $10. The main thing to look for is a rope that turns freely inside the handle. Trainer Michael Olajide, whose new book Sleekify details the rope-jumping program he uses to slim down Victoria’s Secret models for their fashion show, recommends a PVC rope with a ball-bearing handle like his fitness jump rope, The Rainmaker, for clients.
Beginners should stay away from beaded varieties, weighted ropes or ropes made from a material that’s too light. A rope made from the wrong kind of material can compromise form and put you at risk for injury. Before you start jumping, check that the rope is the right size. Step onto the center of the rope with both feet, then raise the handles to your chest: the handles should reach your armpits. Once you master the simple rope, you can experiment with advanced products like the CrossRope, a system of weighted ropes that increases the challenge of your workout the better you get.
2. Balance Like a Barbie: When you’re jumping properly, your heels will never touch the ground. Jumping flat-footed puts a lot of pressure on your knees and will wear you out fast. Instead, keep the weight on the balls of your feet; keep a slight bend in your knees, and wear a pair of running shoes or cross-trainers to ensure your feet stay shock-protected and stable as you jump. Looking forward as opposed to staring down at your feet will allow your head and neck to better absorb the shock of bouncing up and down.
3. Don’t Bounce Like a Schoolgirl: Double-unders and crossovers may look impressive, but if you skimp on mastering the basic, single bounce, you’ll always look like an amateur. Jumping rope isn’t about bouncing as high as you can, pulling your heels to your butt and slamming your feet to the floor. That type of jump – what most people call a “schoolgirl jump” – is a common mistake among beginners and far too abusive to adult knees. To properly execute the single bounce, you should be jumping less than an inch off the ground.
4. Find a Forgiving Surface: The beauty of jumping rope is that you don’t need a huge space to get your sweat on, but what’s below you matters. Each surface type has its own characteristics that affect your rope’s bounce and, consequently, your workout. Avoid concrete, macadam or other hard surfaces that don’t have much give. Carpet isn’t great either, as it causes the rope to bounce, so you’ll have to jump higher than normal. Opt for springier surfaces that are easier on the joints, like hardwood floors.
5. Look at Every Misstep as a Leap Forward: For some people, the movement of jumping rope just comes naturally. For others, it might take a lot more work and time to get that rhythm down. Remember that a rocket burns more fuel getting off the ground than it does when it’s airborne. That is to say, when you trip up – and you will – laugh it off, remember why you’re jumping in the first place and have the fortitude to continue. Jumping rope is all about repetition and patience. Just putting in the effort, even if you lack coordination, speed and strength to start, will bring results. Skip to it!
Consult your doctor before starting any training regimen to see if it’s right for you.