Between balancing work, play and travel, how are you supposed to find time to work out? But itï¿½s not as hard as you might think: Just five minutes of exercise outside is shown to greatly increase self-esteem and mood. Donï¿½t stress over what type of exercise is best.
Between balancing work, play and travel, how are you supposed to find time to work out? But it's not as hard as you might think: Just five minutes of exercise outside is shown to greatly increase self-esteem and mood. Don't stress over what type of exercise is best. Just ask yourself: What type of exercise am I most likely to do? Too many people get caught up in the specifics, feel overwhelmed and stop soon after they've started. If you know how stressful working out while traveling can be, here's a solution: Bring a jump rope. Jumping rope is as much therapy as it is exercise. It reduces anxiety, depression and stress markers. All you need for your quick, on-the-road workout is a compact jump rope you can easily fit in your suitcase.
Alternate Leg Hops
Start with an easy warm-up that elevates your heart rate and prepares your mind and body for exercise. If you aren't very experienced with a jump rope, try listening to some music and bounce to the beat of the music. Jumping rope is all about timing, and this is a great way to practice. HOW TO DO THEM: Start bouncing from one foot to another (left, right, left, right) without a rope. If this isn't intense enough for you, take an extra hop on one foot before switching to the other side (left, left, right, right). Play around with what feels right. If you need more of a challenge, pick up the pace. Count 100 bounces per side.
Related: 10 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises to Prime You for Your Workout
Cross-Body Rope Circles
Even though jumping rope places a heavy emphasis on the lower body, you still need to warm up your upper body. To fire up your shoulder muscles, use a spinning jump rope as a rhythmic, dynamic weight to control. HOW TO DO THEM: Hold both handles of the jump rope in your right hand. Holding the rope out to your right side, start making circles with the rope. Once you have a rhythm, cross your arm in front of your body to make a circle on the other side. Eventually, your right hand will be making circles on alternating sides of your body (right, left, right, left). Do 50 in a row with the right hand, then 50 with the left hand before moving on to the next exercise.
Related: Use a Dynamic Warm-Up to Boost Your Workout
Simple Jump Rope
It's time to combine the three things you practiced in your warm-up: lower-body movement, upper-body movement and rhythm. Incorporating different areas of the body not only burns more calories, it also uses more of your brain, giving you a mental challenge as well. If you're inexperienced with jumping rope, you'll probably notice initially that your timing is way off and you hit your feet a lot. That's OK! Everyone has to start somewhere. HOW TO DO IT: Start with the rope behind you. Swing it up over your head and bring it back down to your feet. Jump before it hits your feet and repeat. Shoot for 25 jumps (50 if that's too easy).
Now it's time to up the intensity. The best thing about this workout is that you're using your own body weight to provide the resistance and make it more difficult. So instead of just hopping, you'll also pull up your legs. HOW TO DO IT: Build up steam with a few simple rope jumps, then transition into high-knee rope jumps. On every jump, bring your knees up as high as you can. Once you get the hang of it, push yourself even harder and bring your knees up higher. Shoot for 25 jumps (50 if that's too easy).
Time to give the jumping a short break with a simple core exercise. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with the jump rope still in your hands. Keeping your legs straight, raise your legs so they're perpendicular to the ground. If you can't get them that high, that's OK. Wrap the rope around your left foot and use the rope to help hold that foot in the air. Lower your right leg to just above the ground, then raise it back to perpendicular. Plant your back firmly on the ground the entire time. If you lower your leg and feel your back come off the ground, don't go down as far on the next rep. Also think about keeping your legs "long" all the way through your heels throughout the exercise. Do 10 reps one side, then do 10 on the other side.
After your core work, return to the simple rope jump to get your rhythm back before moving on to scissor jumps. These are very similar to the simple jumps, but your foot position changes -- one leg forward, one leg back. Scissor jumps are a more dynamic way of training the same movement pattern as the leg lowering you just did, and they also teach you to move from side to side. HOW TO DO THEM: Jump and land with one foot forward and the other foot back on each jump. Alternate sides, and maintain your rhythm. Shoot for 25 jumps (50 if that's too easy).
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Now take those scissor jumps to the next level. Moving from two legs to one leg challenges muscular strength and balance in a way that you haven't yet done in this workout. To ease into single-leg training, start off by skipping. HOW TO DO THEM: Keep the same tempo as you had with the scissor jumps, but land with only one foot on the ground. When the rope comes around, jump up with your right leg and land on your left. Perform a little hop on your left leg while the rope is behind you. When the rope comes back around, jump up with your left leg and land on your right leg. Think about skipping as you spin the rope over and under. Shoot for 25 jumps (50 if that's too easy).
Alternating Single-Leg Jumps
Alternating single-leg rope jumps are more intense than the skipping jumps because now the rope has to move faster to keep up with your jumps because you don't have the benefit of the extra hop when skipping. HOW TO DO THEM: Jump with the right leg as the rope comes under your feet. Land on your left leg, then jump with the left as the rope comes back around. The cadence is right, rope, left, rope. Shoot for 25 repetitions (50 if that's too easy).
Related: 20 of the Best Body-Weight Exercises
This exercise removes the movement from side to side on each rep, eliminating the rest period you normally get on the previous two exercises. Having to jump and land on one leg requires a lot of power, strength, balance and coordination (especially when there's a rope flying around your body). HOW TO DO THEM: Jump and land with the same leg each time the rope comes around. The cadence is left, rope, left, rope, until you've completed all the reps in one set. Shoot for five reps on each side (10 if that's too easy) then repeat for two more rounds.
Supine 3-Month Diagonals
Start to cool down and finish with more core work before calling it quits. HOW TO DO THEM: Grab an end of your jump rope in each hand and lie on your back. Bring your feet up in the air with your legs bent and reach your hands towards the sky. Exhale slowly and press your back into the ground. Bring your hands toward the ground to make a diagonal with the jump rope across your body. Your right palm should be facing the ground next to your right hip. Your left hand should be overhead and out to the side with your thumb poking into the ground. Set your hands apart on the rope so that it stops you just before your hands reach the ground. Hold this position and take five breaths before switching sides. Repeat for two sets.
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This last exercise works your lower body in a way you don't usually experience when jumping rope, and it's a great finish for a cool-down. HOW TO DO IT: Kneel down on one knee with both knees bent at 90 degrees. Exhale fully to set your ribs down and tuck your tailbone beneath you. Holding this position, bring your lower knee up just above the ground. Stay still for as long as you can with your knee hovering just above the ground. When you feel like you can't hold the position any longer, hold it for 10 more seconds before switching sides.
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What Do YOU Think?
Now that you know it's possible to get a good workout with only a jump rope, will you try it for yourself? Or have you already used this workout as a way of keeping your fitness levels up and staying sane while on the road? What modifications would you make to this workout? How do you incorporate the jump rope into your workout? What other tips do you have for your fellow fit travelers? Share your recommendations in the comments section below!
Related: More fitness tips and workouts from Lance Goyke