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The Surprising Way to Tone Up

3 MIN READ • 7th August 2016

Whether it’s a warm-up or a workout, here we find out why skipping is more than just child’s play!

There’s nothing quite like the care-free world of the playground, where days are spent playing red rover, getting “married” every week and skipping with your BFF until the sun goes down. Although nowadays the games are competitive, the matrimonies legal (hopefully not every week!) and the friends different, there’s one thing that can still give us a pang of nostalgia – jumping rope. The boundless energy of a young whipper-snapper may be hard to find to after a 60 hour working week, but it turns out those youthful activities have more body benefits than we first thought. Crossfit, Body Pump and Bootcamp may have replaced the humble PE lesson, but skipping has prevailed as the go-to exercise for an all-over body workout that not only tones your legs, abs and arms but also gives you a serious cardio boost too. They didn’t tell you that in school, did they?

What’s so great about it?

You might not think that bouncing up and down on the spot does a whole lot, but it unwittingly forces your body to engage, working muscles you didn’t know you had.
Not only does the plyometric move raises the heartrate in a short amount of time (torching calories as it does so), it also tones your centre as the core works overtime to steady the movement. After jumping rope for just ten minutes, three times a week, you should start to see more definition in the calves, thighs and glutes (from consistently bouncing on your toes), abs and lower back (to stabilise you), and the arms and shoulders (each turning motion tones the whole arm). With the outside taken care of, personal trainer Matt Roberts ( tells us how it can help the inside, too. “Skipping is a great, cost effective cardiovascular exercise for strengthening your heart and lungs, and thus can help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” he says.

Why’s it different from what i’m doing now?

Whether it’s pounding the pavement or pumping iron, skipping can give your workout routine the shake up it needs by taking your body out of its comfort zone. “In terms of effectiveness as a fat burning activity, skipping works best when used in high intensity intervals, meaning that you should work hard and fast before slowing down (or stopping) to rest, then going again,” Matt tells us. “It compares favourably to many cardiovascular workouts in that it can burn a lot of calories in a short space of time. It has less impact on your joints than running, and requires less space and equipment than many activities with comparable benefits.”

How many calories are we talking here?

It’s hard to believe that a childhood game could possibly hone your body into a lean, fatburning machine, but jump rope does just that by torching ten calories per minute. OK, it may not sound like much, but Matt puts it into perspective. “Per hour, skipping blitz’s 1,000 calories compared to 800 for jogging and 400 for yoga. The amount burned will depend on how the activity is performed, and how hard you can push yourself. Realistically most people won’t be skipping for an hour, but 20 minutes of intense, fast skipping will burn a significant amount of fat. It is a good way to fit in some great exercise in a relatively short space of time.”

Let’s go!

If you’re a beginner, this is a perfect way to ease into a jump rope workout. As you become more advanced, add in single leg jumps, sit ups and push-ups instead of resting intervals.

  • Skip gently for 25 jumps
  • Mobilise the legs with 10 lunges and 10 side lunges
  • Skip gently for 25 jumps
  • Mobilise the upper body with side bends and arm circles
  • n Skip for one minute
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Skip for one minute
  • Rest for 45 seconds
  • Skip for 90 seconds
  • Skip gently for 25 jumps
  • Stretch the hamstrings, calves and quads

Skip by numbers

7 Feet long is the average length of a skipping rope. It should reach both shoulders when you stand in the centre of it
45 Minutes of running has the same health benefits as ten minutes of skipping according to the British Rope Skipping Association
0 The amount it costs to skip after buying a rope
12 Muscles that are working hard with every leap
5 Minutes of jumping warms up your entire body – perfect for the chilly weather ahead
10 Minutes of skipping is equivalent to running a mile in eight minutes
1,000 The amount of calories burned after an hour of jump rope
25 Percent increased fitness was reported in women who jumped rope for five minutes a day over four weeks

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