Rope is my Dope

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A Good Skipping Rope:    is the cheapest and most effective piece of cardio equipment you can own. Contrary to popular belief, it’s the perfect full body workout. At home a weighted rope like this one or a Cross Rope ( always more practical, when travelling)

nike-weight-skipping-rope   Or     crossrope

*My Suggestion: Try skipping 10-15 minutes prior to working out to get your body warm and heart rate up. If skipping is all you have time for, then skip for 30 minutes.

A number of years ago I joined a small boxing club in my local town.

I remember walking into the boxing gym for the first time. Stepping in, the humidity was overpowering. You could nearly taste the dampness. You could smell the dried up sweat emanating from the rows of used and moldy boxing gloves hanging along the wall.

It was everything you would expect from a boxing club.

I laced up my new pair of Nikes and joined a few fellow boxers by the ring side. We were all spaced out randomly like soldiers waiting for instruction from our captain.

After we were instructed to run a few short warm-up laps around the ring, the coach yelled out:

“Alright guys! Grab a rope. We’re going for 15!”

15 what? Minutes? Oh boy.

I walked over, grabbed myself a blue plastic rope hanging on the wall, and hurried over to find a spot on the floor among the crowd.

While others got started without hesitation, it took me a few tries before I finally got the rope to turn around my body. Then suddenly…

WHACKK!!

The rope slapped me right across the right shin. I looked down to see a red mark neatly imprinted from ankle to knee.

Great start. I tried again. Turn, turn, turn..

SMACKK!!!

This time the rope caught the back of my foot, wrapped around my arm, and smacked me right across the left cheek.

I could feel my face burning.

And I didn’t know whether it was from the stinging pain or from the flood of embarrassment.

For 15 minutes straight, all I could manage to do was give myself a whipping. I couldn’t string together 5 single unders in a row without smacking myself in the face.

To make things worse, everyone around me was flawless.

They bounced up and down in unison, barely squeezing off the ground as the rope slipped underneath their feet.

For a few minutes, I tried to copy a few people in front of me.

Only I couldn’t keep up with all the criss-crosses, side swings, and double unders they kept throwing into the mix.

I didn’t think I would ever get it…

But then something happened.

I stayed back after class to give it another go. I continued to struggle until a guy named John came into the picture.

He walked over to me and extended his hand in which he held a shiny red jump rope.

“Try this one,” he said. “It should make things easier.”

Apart from the color, I couldn’t see any difference between the rope I was already using and the one he was giving me.

But he insisted and I had nothing to lose. So I gave it a go.

BOOM!

Within a few tries, I was suddenly stringing together dozens of single unders at a time! It was like magic.

Only it wasn’t…

There wasn’t anything magical to this solution at all.

I just happened to be making one of the most common beginner jump rope mistakes…

I was using an improperly sized rope.

As a coach, this is something I see every single day.

I see beginners trying to learn how to use the jump rope with a rope that is not properly sized for their body.

Picture a golfer trying to improve his or her golf swing by practicing the skill with a golf club that is six inches shorter than it should be.
The golfer would be required to use inefficient mechanics to execute the movement. This makes the skill much more difficult to master.

Even worse, consistent mal-practice with the wrong tool teaches bad habits that become extremely difficult to break down the road.

The same rule applies with the jump rope.

Trying to master the basic single under with a rope that is either too long or too short for your body is inefficient.

Your jumping mechanics would be forced to change just to get the rope to turn properly. This often leads to mistakes, frustration, and eventual rope abandonment.

But even if you were to somehow learn how to jump rope with an undersized or over-sized rope, you would never be able to reach your full potential as a jump roper.

This is why it is essential that you first and foremost equip yourself with a rope that is properly sized for your body.

Doing so will make your life a lot easier down the road.

So how do you know if a rope is properly sized for your body?

There are some very simple sizing guidelines that you can use to ensure that you have a rope that is sized properly for your body.

Jump Rope Sizing Guidelines

Here is a very simple calculation you can use to find a rope that is of the right length for your body:

Ideal Rope Length = your height X 1.5

For example, if you are 5’10” tall (70”), your calculation would look something like this:

Ideal Rope Length = 70” X 1.5 Ideal Rope Length = 105” (or 8’9”)

This is a very general calculation to get you started. And even though it provides consistent and conservative results, your physiology might require something different. So it’s important to test the length of the rope against your own body.

To make sure that your jump rope is properly sized for your body, follow these guidelines (see image below for reference):

  1. Grab your rope by the handles and, with one foot, step on the middle of the rope in front of you,
  2. While standing straight, pull the handles right up to your chest.

rope-sizing-line

While you hold the handles by your chest, examine where the ends of the rope (not the handles) reach your chest level.

Using the base of your chest as the benchmark, you can now play around with the length your rope.

rope-sizing-close

Here are some guidelines to follow…

If you’re a beginner, you will want a slightly longer rope. I would recommend going 1-2″ above your benchmark.

A longer rope will help slow down the rotation of the rope and will offer you a little more room for error (less chance the rope will get caught on your feet).

However, you do not want to go any greater than 2” above.

There is a point of no return here.

Once you surpass a certain length, you will be forced to change your mechanics in order to prevent mistakes. You will be forced to deviate from your sweet spot to get the rope to turn properly.

You don’t want this.

Once your skills start progressing, you can start moving below your benchmark. A shorter rope will allow you to generate faster rotations, but your room for error will also drop dramatically.

You can use these guidelines to determine if your current rope is properly sized or if you’re purchasing another rope in store.

Ordering a jump rope online?

Purchasing a jump rope online (particularly a premium one) often requires you to choose which size you want.

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Fortunately, most companies will provide you with their own sizing guidelines. Remember these guidelines are often based on your own height.

If no sizing charts are offered, you can reverse-engineer the earlier mentioned sizing guidelines to calculate your length.

Grab a long piece of string and step on it with one foot like I showed earlier. Pinch the two ends of the string by your chest and use scissors to make the cut on one end.

Use a tape measure to measure the length of the string you cut. This is roughly the length you should be looking for online.

If you’re struggling to choose your size, get in touch with the company and see what their recommendation is. You’ll also find that most companies offer a sizing policy where they will exchange your rope if it doesn’t fit you properly, so there isn’t too much risk involved.

So that was a somewhat long explanation of how to size a jump rope.

But it’s necessary.

It’s actually essential.

At the end of the day, feel free to experiment with different lengths of ropes. You might find that you prefer longer ropes over shorter ones.

When it’s all said and done, the final length of your rope will depend largely on your jump rope style and personal preferences.

But one thing’s for sure…

If you get the right size from the start, your journey to jump rope mastery will be much smoother and much more enjoyable.

ACTION STEP:

Your first action step is to get yourself a properly sized rope. This is important because as we move on from this lesson, everything we cover over the next few days will only be useful to you if you have a rope that is properly sized for your body.