Skipping is the perfect do-anywhere workout for lockdown – but what are the benefits?
If you want an on-trend cardio workout, don’t overlook skipping. During lockdown, Google searches for the exercise spiked higher than they have at any point in the past five years. Instagram and TikTok feeds are filled with people doing dances and tricks with their jump ropes, and more places are beginning to stock them, from Instagrammable fitness accessory brand Shreddy’s sell out skipping rope to supplement supplier MyProtein’s deluxe kit.
It’s not surprising that we are seeing new ways of training take favour over the classic workouts. It’s generally been out with weight lifting and spinning, thanks to a lack of kit, and in with barre, walking and HIIT – simple workouts with minimal kit that provide great results.
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For presenter AJ Odudu, skipping was a way to refresh her workouts while lockdown rolled on. “I always like to mix up my workouts, but because of lockdown and not being able to go to the gym, the variety became limited to my living room and I was bored,” she says. “I just happened to come across an old skipping rope and decided to give it a go – now I’m obsessed.”
Not only is skipping about adding variety, but it’s the ultimate do-anywhere session. You can skip in your garden, take your rope to the park and even have a jump inside your house (so long as you move everything out of your hitting zone) – using just one tiny piece of kit.
Most importantly, it’s actually a fun way to get some cardio in. If you hate how tedious running can feel, putting one foot in front of the other without stopping, skipping could be the solution. “I love the fact that I can incorporate music with it. I just go outside and listen to two of my favourite songs, and when they’re over it’s finished,” says AJ. “And there are also so many progressions to learn,” she adds. “I stood outside in the cold for 25 minutes trying to perfect my double under, and when I did it, it felt amazing.”
Is skipping better than running?
So we know that it’s an enjoyable way to move, but is skipping your run in favour of jumping rope actually wise when it comes to your physical health? To answer this, I turned to Kerry Dixon, a personal trainer from The Athlete Method. “Skipping is actually a lot more efficient than running,” she says. “That simply means that you can spend less time skipping and get the same benefits you’d get from spending a longer time running.”
Kerry explains that 10 minutes of skipping is roughly equivalent to the same output you’d get from a 30-minute run at a seven or eight-minute mile pace. “What motivated me to carry on skipping was that I could see the effects so quickly. I felt out of breath after 60 seconds!” says AJ.
But “it’s not necessarily about running or skipping being better. Running has huge benefits and nothing’s right or wrong, but during skipping the energy systems and the muscles have to work harder in a short space of time. That means that you speed up the process to get those results,” says Kerry.
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Another plus to skipping rope is that you can reap the brilliant cardiovascular benefits without the same impact on your joints that you might experience during running. “Everything comes down to technique and doing it correctly, but it’s a good alternative to running for those who can’t take pressure through their knees,” says Kerry.
If you’re someone who loves to run, by no means stop. But incorporating skipping alongside your runs can reduce the risk of injury as “skipping helps to strengthen your feet and calf muscles, so it’s good for those who might find they often get shin splints during a run,” says Kerry. “It also helps to improve your speed and agility”, training you to quickly and lightly bounce off the floor when you are out for a 5k.
Don’t be put off if you think skipping sounds too challenging. “You don’t have to go in all fancy with the tricks. In fact, it’s better to focus on just getting over the rope for one or two minutes,” says Kerry. That doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging. “You’ll find that it takes a bit of work to hold that consistently but challenge yourself,” she encourages.
AJ agrees that the challenge is all part of the fun. “It’s easy to play to your strengths, and I find skipping really, really hard. But you progress quickly, and there are so many variations and progressions you can work towards. I spent 25 minutes trying to achieve my first double under and when I did it I felt amazing,” she says.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).