tip of the month archive

TIP # 14

This month, I want to talk about aerobic conditioning.

When you talk about total fitness, you must discuss several factors. Muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, organ health and cardiovascular, (aerobic), efficiency pretty much cover the main components of health and fitness.

Aerobic exercises . . . those that use multiple muscle groups, are sustained for a certain period of time, and make you breath hard . . . have in the past been touted as the best way to burn excess fat. I never did buy into that, but it is the right type of exercise to greatly improve your heart, lung and circulatory health. That's a big, important chunk of overall health for everyone!

There a several aerobic exercises to choose from, and I'm sure you're familiar with the vast majority of them. Jogging, rowing, cycling, stair climbing, elliptical training . . . yadda, yadda, yadda . . . but have you ever considered jumping rope?

More years ago that I care to remember, I did a little boxing. Although I always questioned some of the traditional methods boxers use in their training, jumping rope proved to be the best thing I got out of that sport. (The multiple broken noses, and a jaw that still occasionally locks in one position, I could've done without!)

  • Jumping rope for 10 minutes has proven to have the same cardio benefits as 30 minutes of jogging.
  • Jumping rope is low impact, that is to say that it's easier on the joints, than many other aerobic exercises, but is still a "weight bearing" activity . . . necessary for fighting osteoporosis.
  • Jumping rope is affordable. The best ropes just happen to cost the least amount of money.
  • Jumping rope is not "weather limited". (Yeah, jogging in the rain is fun!)
  • You can jump rope anywhere . . . indoors or outdoors, at home or in a hotel room.
  • Unlike most aerobic exercises, jumping rope offers benefits for the upper body as well as the lower extremities . . . and will help to reshape your muscles better than any other aerobic activity. (No offense to you runners out there, but I just don't personally care for the physiques of the typical jogger/distance runner. Their muscles look stringy and loose to me.)
  • Jumping rope will improve your hand/eye coordination, balance and agility, as well as your aerobic capacity. (That's why it is so important for boxers.)
  • Jumping rope will improve your performance in any other sport you may be involved with.
  • And, for my money, jumping rope is just plain FUN!

Have I convinced you yet? Then it's time to get started! All you need is a decent pair of shoes like crosstrainers, and a good jump rope.

  • Jump once for every revolution of the rope. Many people are guilty of double jumping, and just about everyone does it when they first start out. Don't worry, you'll get past that soon.
  • Your feet should only leave the ground by 1 - 2 inches.
  • Avoid jumping on surfaces that don't have any 'give' to them. I like to use our back deck. In bad weather, you should be able to exercise indoors, (if mommy will let you), since a properly adjusted rope should only swing about a foot above your head.
  • Start out easy. If you can go for 2 minutes, you're doing real good!
  • Work up to 125 - 175 revolutions per minute, but take your time getting there.
  • Don't be surprised if the arches of your feet get a bit sore when you first start out. It kinda goes with the territory, as they say, and it won't last long.

For the last 30 years, I've owned 2 ropes. They're identical, except for the color and the length. One is for me, the other was used by my kids, and is now being used by my grandkids. (My six year old grandson, "Goober", is a hoot when he skips!)

As I said before, the best ropes are also the least expensive. (And I've tried them all!) They are made by a company called Lifeline. Bobby Hinds, the fella that started this company, and developed the best ropes out there, is quite a colorful guy. A former heavyweight pro boxer, (undefeated, if I recall correctly), Bobby is in his 70's now, and is making lots more than just jump ropes.

Visit www.lifeline-usa.com, and you'll find a great selection of ropes, exercise cables, exercise balls, and rehab equipment.

One of the Lifeline signatures is portability. This stuff is ideal for bodybuilders to have at home for when they can't make it to the gym, or to take on the road, on vacations or business trips. And for the competitive bodybuilder, Lifeline's products are invaluable for taking to a contest venue . . . for pumping up backstage, as well as for those quick hotel workouts.

Lifeline ropes have improved some since I bought mine some 30 years ago . . . although it's hard for me to believe you could improve on them. Who knows, maybe Mr. Hinds will see this "Tip Of The Month" and see fit to send me a new jump rope to try out. Or, maybe I'll just spring for the $5.00 and buy one myself!

Until next time, train hard, but train smart!

- Poppa

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