The other day while commuting, I was listening to Gray Cook’s lectures from my Audible account. In one of the lectures, he starts talking about jumping rope, and how it is a great, portable way to do high intensity interval training (HIIT.) The got the gears in my mind turning, because I haven’t even thought about jumping rope in decades, let alone even tried it. To me, it was something kids do to fight off boredom before they invented iPads, or it’s a way for Rocky Balboa to make himself look busy in between punching his heavy bag at Mick’s Gym.
But then Gray started talking about how intense the exercise is, and how it’s such a great promoter of movement for your lower body, just like lifting a kettlebell is for your upper body. And with both, you get a full body movement drill in. Then to top it off, my Taekwondo training son started talking about how he wants to jump rope to train.
Well, we both had to get them, and now we both have them.
It turns out that jumping rope is a non-specific, but highly effective way to condition your body to enhance your athletic conditioning, your balance, and your coordination. Trecroci did a study where they took two groups of soccer players and sent them through a circuit test called the Harre Circuit test, and the Lower Quarter Y balance test. One group did regular soccer training, but the other group did jump rope training. They found that the jump ropers reduced their circuit training time by 9%, while the regular group had no change. Jump rope practice enhances general motor coordination and balance.
Other studies show similar gains in performance for children athletes, and one study even shows that when you jump rope for 8 weeks, your measure of self-concept improves. You think a little better about yourself. You know who you are and how you fit into the world. You understand yourself better. You are able to integrate your past self with your present and future self.
When I got my jump rope fitted, and I tried to somehow connect what I wanted to do with the rope to the coordination of my feet, I found it challenging. I hopped, landed, then some time later the rope came to me. Then next time, the rope came to my legs, hit my legs, then I hopped, then I landed. To my horror, I felt like my back was stiff and vulnerable to this hopping, and I guess that’s my fault for being 40 years old, not the rope’s fault. Another time, I tried to jump the rope with a full stomach, but that was uncomfortable too. Finally, I got back on the rope while wearing appropriate clothing and with a reasonably empty stomach, and kind of warmed up, and I finally was a able to muster the coordination to do 5 consecutive jumps. Then I got to 10. Then, I ran out of breath. The effort it takes to do this is no joke. It really is HIIT. I had to take a break, but I didn’t want to. I was having fun, and I was blasting my heart doing it.
The crazy thing is, I handed my rope to my wife, Felicia, and she put everyone to shame. She picked it up with no effort at all, and was doing rope tricks right in our car port. My son and I were slack-jawed in amazement. She was skipping right along, and she was swapping hands without losing rhythm. “How do you know how to do that?” And she said, “Didn’t I tell you that I was on a jump team when I was in middle school?”
What a pro.
So now I have a new goal in life: Jump road and reach 50 jumps in a row. I might even reach this tomorrow with my superior neuroplasticity ability.
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