Bored of running and HIIT? Try this skipping challenge for a fun, fuss-free session.
In times like these, trying something new is the best way forward. Skipping should be top of that list, given that it doesn’t require you to buy a whole host of equipment (only a new jump rope, if you don’t already have one) and it’s full of benefits that you can reap in just a few minutes. But skipping has swiftly become a lockdown favourite because of how versatile it is. You can’t get bored of skipping given how many variations, drills and tricks there are to try.
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One woman who knows just that is Sarah Louise. “I was starting to feel a bit lethargic and sluggish during the first lockdown, but I hate running, so when my boyfriend started skipping as part of his boxing training, I thought I’d give it a go,” she says. It stuck, and now her Skipping With Sarah page on Instagram, where she posts tips and tricks for beginners along with impressive videos of her jumping rope, has nearly 30,000 followers.
But just bouncing up and down for 15 minutes isn’t the key to an enjoyable session. Sarah suggests working on skill-based skips instead, “incorporating footwork challenges to train endurance, as it’s twice as challenging as just doing the basic bounce, as well as challenging your coordination.
“If you’re doing high knees, for example, you’ll find your arms also want to start lifting. Learning to control your feet without moving any other part of you is really tricky,” she says. There are three key elements she recommends for those wanting to challenge their skipping skills:
1. High knees
“Learning how to hop on one leg should be the first thing. This is tricky as it’s a lot of balance and strength through one leg,” says Sarah. Once you’ve got the hang of that, try alternating your feet as you do single leg skips “so you’re maintaining your balance in between jumps.”
Then learn to lift one leg up so the knee comes into your chest as you jump, as though you were doing high knees in a workout class.
2. Jumping jacks
“Adding a straddle in is a good way of getting your heart rate up even further,” says Sarah. The idea is to simply to do a jumping jack over the rope, rather than jumping up and down in a straight position.
3. Toe taps
This looks tricky, but once you’ve got the basic bounce right, you’ll be able to nail it. For this move, land on both feet then tap one foot out in front of you. Go back into a double bounce, and tap the other foot out. Keep alternating your toes.
Once you’ve nailed them, you can start to add in cross-overs. “This really gets your co-ordination working again,” says Sarah, which you’ll know all about if you’ve ever attempted to cross your arms when skipping. Start with a simple bounce and, as the rope comes over your head, cross your arms so that your forearms are touching – as though you’re hugging yourself.
“Force the rope behind you while your arms are crossed and then, as the rope comes over your head again, open your arms for a standard bounce. From then you can alternate cross-overs and standard skips,” says Sarah.
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Skipping rope challenge
Now to piece it all together. Perform these moves in a 30 second on/30 second off rotation for 15 minutes. For example, 30 seconds of high knees, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Then 30 seconds of jumping jacks, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
After that, spend some time working on skill drills, such as nailing your cross-overs or gathering speed on your high knees. The best thing about skipping is that you can tailor it to your ability, depending on the weight of your rope, the moves you chose and the speed you go at – so make it work for you.
If that isn’t enough excitement to get you through your session, you can try Sarah’s song challenge. “Another way that you can spice it up is to listen to music and try to hit the beat. I would recommend starting with a 120bpm song, which you can find on running playlists, and then progressing to speedier songs as you progress,” she says. Not only is that a chance to listen to your favourite tunes, it also shows how well you’re progressing. When Dua Lipa’s New Rules gets too slow, you’ll know you’ve been smashing your skipping.
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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).