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Don't fear the rope. This fighter favorite scorches calories and blasts your calves, forearms and shoulders

Posted Feb 01 2011 4:42pm

Other than boxing gyms, the jump rope is almost as unpopular as the pull-up bar in most fitness facilities and for about the same reason—because you can look like a total ass if you never do it. That's too bad because the jump rope, like the pull-up bar, offers a host of benefits that people have chosen to ignore for fear of looking stupid. In addition to melting away bodyfat at record rates, the jump rope helps you build those stubborn calves while also putting a hurting on several other muscle groups.

Yes, the main muscles that you're working are your calves but you activate a lot more muscle than you may think. You're also using your shoulders—particularly your rear delts—as well as your abs, quads, hamstrings. Pretty much every muscle is firing when doing this exercise to keep your body stable.

Need more incentive for learning how to work the rope like a pro boxer? Consider that jumping rope at a moderate pace will burn approximately 16 calories per minute for a 200-pound man. Work that into 10 three-minute rounds and you're looking at 480 calories during your session. The one-minute rest periods characteristic of boxing routines provide somewhat of an interval effect, giving you an even greater calorie burn long after your final skip. ( for advanced individuals rest only 30 sec ).

LET'S GET TO IT

Starting slow is says the best way to start getting the most out of the jump rope.
This takes a lot of coordination so don't think you can just get in there and be like Rocky. Try to start just by swinging the rope over your body, aiming to just jump the rope once. After you do this and understand how the rope reacts you are ready to kick it up."

Listening to the rope. Don't rotate with your arms. Use your wrists and let the rope glide around you. Don't fight it. I listen to the rope, too, and jump when I hear the sound. My feet barely come off the ground—just enough to let the rope slide under and I'm always on the balls of my feet.

Progression.
Once you nail the cadence of the simple skip, try alternating feet. Bounce slightly side to side or front to back with each revolution of the rope. Eventually, you can graduate to double-unders, where the rope passes under your feet twice with each jump.

Skill sport.
Let us not forget the "cool" factor. While the rest of the crowd herds itself to Treadmill Lane for its cardio, you can be in front of the mirror with your iPod cranked up practicing a skill while getting a workout.

No one learns overnight so keep at it and before you know it you will be ripping it up.

NOTE:JOIN A BOXING GYM

There's nothing more cathartic than whaling away on a heavy bag after a long day at the office. But a crisply-landed jab-cross-hook combo does way more than just relieve stress. Train like a fighter and benefit with the same lean ripped look.

Boxing gyms, which offer hour-long, group instructional classes, can burn anywhere from 400-750 calories in an hour. Boxing-related activities, such as jumping rope, medicine ball work and plyometrics can also help you tap into muscle fibers you forgot you had. Plus, you get to learn a skill. Sure beats the treadmill. Two of our fave boxing dives are the Allentown PA boxing club and Gleason's in Brooklyn (www.gleasonsgym.net).
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