Some time ago I came across an article/study titled "Jogging Not As Good As Soccer For Burning Fat".
The original link I had to the article has since gone cold, but I’m sure it’s out there in the internet somewhere (in case you want to read the original, I will try to find a proper link if possible). **I found the link** I want to highlight a few of the findings and then extrapolate on them a bit because of the very interesting insights this study offers.
First off, this study followed 14 untrained men for 3 months. This group had 2-3 weekly rounds of soccer practice, of the duration of approximately 1 hour. Their percentage of fat went down, the total mass of muscle went up, their blood pressure fell and their fitness ratings improved significantly. Everything we tested improved, says Peter Krustrup.
The study also followed a group of joggers who trained 2-3 times per week, but their efforts showed smaller effects than that of the soccer players…After 12 weeks, the soccer players had lost 3.5 kilos of fat and gained more than 2 kilos of extra muscle mass, whereas the joggers had lost 2 kilos of fat and showed no change in total muscle mass…The sports scientist believes that it is the shifts between walking, running and sprinting that causes the soccer players to experience better health improvements
The study goes on with a number of other observations including the fact that the soccer players didn’t report the boredom that the joggers experienced. Alright, now that we’ve got some of the facts in the open, let’s digest just what this is saying. I think it’s great that they followed untrained men who only exercised 2-3 times weekly and didn’t stick with superb athletes practicing everyday under strenuous supervision. Thus the results are more realistic for the majority of us. To veer off from the soccer study, let’s look at how this would relate to jump rope. The consensus between the scientists was that it was the shift in activity that made the participants experience the greater health improvements. The thing that makes jump rope such a great exercise is that there are so many different things you can do with it beyond just jumping in place.
I don’t think I would be too far off the mark to say that you can experience the same benefits as soccer if you will design a jump rope workout that properly incorporates the same principle. Design your workout to constantly add change to what you’re doing. I’ll break down a quick idea of what a workout could look like in a moment, but imagine the health benefits you could experience and the great part is, you can do it at home alone! I love soccer and think it’s a lot of fun, but the tough part has always been getting a group that can consistently play together and avoiding injury while doing so.
Before you get into a detailed workout, the first thing you need to take time to do is learn some skills! The idea of change in jump rope requires you to be able to do a variety of tricks that will challenge your body in different ways. I don’t mean you have to be able to do the most difficult skills in the world, but you do need to have a decent repertoire that you can pull from to make this work. I would suggest learning a variety of footwork skills to start with as they will offer the most variety with the easiest learning curve. Once you’ve got a few of those, go on to learn some crossing skills, a double under and a couple double under skills. One thing they mentioned is that it was the change from jogging to walking that helped, so it’s a good idea to learn some non-jumping skills like the arm wrap, the side swing, the step-through and the marching step. These skills will allow your heart rate to go down and give you a breather in between the more strenuous parts of your workout. I’m a big fan of rope release skills so you might want to spend some time to learn the basic rope toss and maybe the mamba, as that one is always fun to do in a workout and will have you working on your hand-eye-coordination. If you need some help learning how to do any of these skills (or others) make sure you’re signed up for the Rope Masters videoKast which is a free resource to learn how to jump rope and you can also pick up the Rope Masters Single Rope Skills
Now that you’ve got some skills together it’s time to put together that fat-burning, muscle enhancing workout that you’ve always dreamed of. First, get some rocking music! This is one other great thing about a jump rope workout vs. Soccer, you can listen to music while you’re doing it. I’m a huge fan of trance and highly recommend picking up a dance mix at about 130-140 bpm. If you don’t know where to start, check out ‘A State of Trance’ by Armin Van Buuren, it usually has a good selection of music and comes out every week. Once you’ve got your music selected, crank it and use the following guideline to build your own uber-workout.
- Warm-up. Start with some light marching with the rope at your side and then work into the basic single bounce. Switch back and forth between this and side swings to get you set for the rest of the workout.
- Footwork. Start with some basic footwork skills like the Skier, Bell, Side-Straddle, Forward-Straddle, etc. This will finish off your warm-up and also give you a change in motion from the previous, mainly stationary skills.
- Core Workout. This is where all the fun (and health) happens. The key is to constantly change what you’re doing. Every 15-30 seconds change what you’re doing. Do some crosses then footwork, then jog in place, then jump sideways for about 10 feet then back, do a couple double unders, jump as fast as you can, march in place, etc. Remember, change up what you’re doing! Push yourself to where you’re breathing hard then take a break and do some non-jumping skills. You don’t need to kill yourself to make this work for you, have fun with it and just mix it up.
- Cool Down. After the core of your workout it’s very important to take time to cool down. Too many people stop without giving their bodies time to cool off and suffer for it the next couple days. Do some light jumping and marching. Take about 5 minutes to give your body enough time to cool down completely. Once you’re done make sure you also stretch out your calves and legs as you’ve just given them one good workout.
That’s about it. You’ll find that your workouts will be more fun and productive if you consistently change what you’re doing. I thought this study was fascinating and hope that it has opened your eyes to the awesome benefits that variations in exercise can do for you.