By Buddy Lee (US Olympian Wrestler and Jump Rope Training Expert)
Buddy Lee is considered the worlds leading jump rope Training expert. He is an official Olympian, a 10 time World Medalist, a twice US Marine Athlete of the Year, and a trainer to 25 Olympic sports.
Since the beginning of time, man has instinctively jumped from one object to the next and into open space in the need to functionally adapt to a constantly changing environment. As a reflex, it is one of the most natural movements of the human body, triggered inherently from the need to attack, gain advantage in combat, escape dangerous animals, dance in rituals, gather food from trees, in celebration or for friendly competition. More importantly, jumping is a natural reflex that can be developed into a skill for competitive advantages and will always be essential to man’s survival.
Over time in everyday life and experimenting with his environment man started combining this linear movement of jumping up and down with objects found in nature. As early as the Egyptians and Aborigines of Australia, vines and flexible bamboo found in the jungles were combined with jumping as a form of play. These movements practiced together to mastery eventually took shape and emerged into an art form that we refer to as jump rope or rope jumping.
Today this ancient activity and training tool has become synonymous with the warrior’s pre-fight training regimen and the missing link for developing superior fitness. Famed martial artist Bruce Lee and world champions fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr, Mohammed Ali, UFC Champion Randy Couture, can all say rope jumping made the winning difference in their quest for developing superior fighting skills.
Like them, I used rope jumping as an important part of my daily training regimen. The jump rope became my best training partner and the key to my success in developing into a US Olympian. It started one afternoon 20 years go as I learned from my neighbor how to be light on my feet. That day marked the beginning of my unbreakable bond with the jump rope and established the foundation of my training system. Eager to learn and highly motivated to work hard to become the best in my sport everyday I jumped for a couple of hours. I mastered the basics in no time and began mimicking the same movements and energy system required in my sport which developed a higher level of fitness. As a result after years of training in a specific way I became recognized as one of the quickest and most highly conditioned wrestlers in the world.
I still recall the World Championships in Rome, Italy, when the Frenchman was ahead of me by one point with only three seconds left in the match. In a split second I created a small opening to execute my signature duck under technique to slam my opponent to his back for five points and sealed the victory and my advancement into the semifinals of the World championships.
My high intensity jump rope training programs, five days a week, over twenty years proved to be the key to providing me with the competitive advantage of lightening fast reflexes and superior conditioning over my opponents to win 20 national titles in three styles of wrestling, three world military championships and to be voted twice Marine athlete of the year.
The benefits of this simple but yet complex training technique ranks as an ideal brain exercise, bone builder, and as one of the most efficient ways of improving cardiovascular fitness in as little as ten minutes.
According to research, jumping rope for a minimum of five minutes a day can improve physical fitness, and when you build to ten minutes of nonstop jumping at 120 RPM (revolutions per minute) it can provide the same benefits as the following:
30 minutes of jogging
2 sets of tennis singles
30 minutes of racquetball and handball
720 yards of swimming
18 holes of golf
In addition, jumping helps to develop the left and right hemisphere of the brain, to further improve spatial awareness and reading skills while increasing memory and mental alertness. Jumping on the balls of the feet requires the body and mind to make neural muscular adjustments to imbalances created from continuous jumping. As a result jumping improves dynamic balance and coordination, reflexes, bone density and muscular endurance.
As one dissects this exercise further and views it from a biomechanical perspective, it represents a composite movement combining a circular motion with an angular momentum. The body resembles a projectile subject to all the laws that govern projectile motion while the rope becomes a dynamic flywheel subject to all the laws that govern rotary motion. It is in the synchronous and harmonious coordination of these movements where the secrets and benefits are received.
Many people claim they jump rope but there is only one right way to jump to get these benefits and the system I created with our US Olympic teams and 50 Gold medalists and World Champions has been tested and proven to produce maximum results. To follow is a step by step plan to get you off to a safe and jumping start but first let’s cover some basics.
Choose the proper rope that can easily respond to your jumping ability. Be sure to measure your rope for your height by standing on the center of the rope with handles extending to shoulders or underarms. Between these measurements the rope provides enough clearance during jumping and makes it easier to learn the skill and progress safely. As you become more proficient shorten the cord for a faster turning rope. Always check for potential weak links like breakage of the cord or wear and tear of the ball bearings.
Before incorporating rope jumping as a workout, learn to master the basic bounce and alternate foot step (see Illustration). These two techniques make up the foundation to all jump rope training programs and provide a smooth transition to learning additional techniques for high intensity workouts.
The bounce step is simple and effective. Time the swing of the rope while jumping with both feet.
Jump with your feet together.
Jump just high enough to clear the rope (1 inch off the ground) by pushing from the balls of the feet, slightly bending the knees and flexing the ankles.
Land lightly on the balls of your feet.
Stay on the balls of your feet and reload to repeat steps 2 and 3.
Bounce only once per swing of the rope—don’t double-bounce.
Begin with one jump at a time to establish timing and rhythm, then increase to 5 jumps per set.
Master the bounce step before attempting the alternate-foot step.
This is a similar movement to the bounce step. But instead of jumping with two feet, alternate jumping between both feet, as if running in place. You may need to jump a little higher than an inch from the surface. Jump by lifting the knees forward without kicking the feet backward. Kicking the feet behind you while executing this technique will cause your feet to catch on the rope.
Swing the rope around and jump over it with one foot. From this position, on the second turn of the rope jump over it with the alternate foot.
Continue alternating feet (lifting knees as if jogging in place) at a slow pace until you establish a comfortable jumping rhythm.
Count only the right foot and multiply by two to get the total number of jumps.
Do not double-bounce.
After jumping over with one foot, be sure to wait for the rope to pass over your head before jumping over it again with the second foot.
Quickly and gently bounce on the balls of the feet.
Do not kick feet backward.
The key to effective jumping is to be light on the balls of your feet, while jumping only high enough to clear the rope (half an inch from the surface).
Look straight ahead with head squarely on shoulders, arms relaxed at waist level at 45 degree angles and feet only a few inches apart.
Make small circular movements with the wrists, the size of a quarter, while turning the rope
Focus on one perfect jump and duplicate the perfect jump.
Become proficient with the basic bounce and alternate foot step, performing 140 jumps non stop.
Build jump rope proficiency to 500 jumps nonstop.
Build from 500 jumps to 5 minutes of jumping averaging 2 to 3 RPS (revolutions per second) or 120 to 180 RPM.
Build from 5 minutes to ten minutes of jumping nonstop, alternating between the basic bounce and alternate foot step.
Increase jump rope intensity to 3 to 4 RPS or 180 to 240 RPM for ten minutes of jumping nonstop.
Once you have developed a jump rope capacity of 10 minutes of non stop jumping while varying the intensity, you are now ready for my 10 minute program.
10 Minute Program
1st minute: basic bounce
2nd minute: alternate foot step
3rd minute: combine basic bounce and alternate footstep (4 of each)
4th minute: combine basic bounce and alternate footstep (8 of each)
5th minute: sprint with alternate stop (180-240 RMP)
6th – 10th minute: Repeat
In conclusion, jump rope training requires the same precision, concentration, persistence and practice as any martial art in order to become proficient. In time you will discover the incredible benefits, mind body connection and how this exercise becomes more than a method for developing superior fitness, but a method that ensures total wellness and a way of life.