The Full Body Circuit Workout
Prized fighters, football players and fitness models all utilize the jump rope.
It’s a fantastic conditioning tool for melting away fat and increasing your athleticism.
A few other benefits include…
Decreased risk of injury
Jumping with a skipping rope is a self limiting exercise, there really is no way to push yourself to the point of injury unlike sprinting, sled pushes and other intense cardio oriented exercises – the worst case scenario when jumping rope is your coordinator/rhythm gets out of time and you clip your ankles or forearms with the skipping rope, no big deal.
Performing interval sprints at a high speed on a treadmill can be tough on the joints – I personally get shin splints when I try to push myself with regular treadmill intervals (unless it’s a very high quality treadmill, not the usual cheap semi commercial gym ones).
Increased movement & co-ordination ability
To be successful at skipping you need to be coordinated, as you practise and practise and practise your coordinator will improve drastically.
In terms of movement the jump rope is also a fantastic tool for warming up before a game, a lifting session or whatnot.
Jump rope workouts build explosive speed & power
As you begin to master the coordination and form of skipping you can pick up the pace – fast jumps, double unders, crossovers.. there are no limitations to the different variations and combos of skipping you can do – all while building speed and explosive power through your calfs.
Combine regular skipping for speed with a low rep compound workout routine for strength and you’re set.
Jump rope workouts will blow up your calfs
Collectively guys really need to focus on their calf development, I’m included in this group.
Performing set after set of calf raises, alternating between both heavy and light loads just doesn’t seem to be work as well as it should… (Arnold Schwarenegger had ongoing issues getting his calfs to grow as he discusses in his biography, ‘Total Recall’).
The load placed on your calf muscles when performing a regular skip is nothing extraordinary as your calfs are used to carrying around your body all day – it can easily support the weight.
However, when you start to think outside the box and start performing single leg hops to increase the load on your calfs you’ll begin to see new growth!.
Jump ropes are a highly flexible, inexpensive interval training tool
You can use a jump rope literally anywhere, you don’t have an 100M track to sprint every though now do you?
For as little as $5 or $10 you can pick up a speed rope which will keep you going for quite some time.
Perfect for interval training (you can pair X number of skips or skipping for X number of seconds with any bodyweight exercise of your choosing such as push-ups, sit-ups, mountain climbers, burpees, jumping jacks).
I personally love the jump rope for cardio because you’re focusing, it challenges your coordination so you’re not left like a mindless zombie slowly pacing away on the treadmill.
My tips for an affective jump rope workout for beginners
- Look directly ahead as you jump, don’t look down
- Keep your weight on the balls of your feet
- Do small, quick jumps (just over an inch off the ground)
- Keep your elbows nice and close to your sides
- Maintain a 45 degree angle with your elbows
- Turn the rope by making small circles (around 2 inches) with your wrists
- Focus on form, speed will come
Medicine ball slams aren’t a particularly new exercise, however it was only a few months ago that I decided to give them a try, up until then I dismissed them as a CrossFit fad style exercise.
Was I wrong…
The medicine ball slam has a number of fantastic benefits, whether you’re looking to burn fat, increase strength or explosive power medicine ball slams can benefit you too.
Increase Explosive Power
The goal of the ball slam is to raise the ball overhead as high as possible with extended arms before slamming the ball to the ground, using your arms as well as your torso – this fast exertion utilizes and builds explosive power.
As the medicine ball slam is a functional movement this explosive power can transfer across to other exercises, sports such as basketball and baseball as well as MMA.
Build Core Strength
In order to lift the medicine ball over head with extended arms and slam it back down to the ground while maintaining your position a surprisingly large amount of core strength is required. As we’ve discussed in order to get six pack abs core strength is irrelevant, it’s all a matter of body fat. That said increasing your core strength does have its benefits! Before I regularly performed exercises such as hanging leg raises, planks and ball slams I found my core stability on my squat and standing military press to be the point of failure – my core was shaking and I struggled to stay upright and maintain my position when lifting heavy weight (I had a tendency to want to fall forward).
After I increased my core strength this is no longer the case.
Medicine ball slams are intense, there’s no doubt about it.
Unlike other exercises and forms of cardio, medicine ball slams are to be performed in explosive bursts… form comes first, speed comes second.
Studies time and time again have proven that HIIT (high intensity interval training) burns far more calories than prolonged steady state cardio.
Medicine ball slams, when performed in a HIIT or circuit style workout can burn hundreds of calories, provided you’ve got your diet in check the calorie deficit that your medicine ball slams workout places you in will be enough to burn fat.
Works The Entire Body
The medicine ball slam is a full body exercise, utilizing the lats, abs and quads.
As the medicine ball slam is a compound exercise it’s fantastic for overall conditioning and quickly gets the heart rate going! Which, as mentioned above can burn a ton of calories when structured into a workout correctly.
How To Do A Medicine Ball Slam
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and a non-bounce medicine ball held overhead.
- Throw the ball down to the ground in front of your feet with as much force as possible. Exhale during the movement and contract the abs powerfully.
- If possible, catch the ball as it bounces from the floor. If there’s no bounce at all, keep the abdominal muscles engaged and pick the ball from the floor.
- Lift the medicine ball back the the starting position and repeat.
The best ab exercise, hanging leg raises, doesn’t require any fancy equipment, special belts, ab king pro devices or any of that other BS.
To perform hanging leg raises all time all you need is your body and a horizontal bar – don’t have access to a pull-up bar? Not a problem! A ledge, tree branch or piece of playground equipment will suffice
- Hanging leg raises target the entire abdominal region (rectus abdominus aka. your six pack along with your obliques and serratus anterior)
- The process of raising your hips translates into increased functional power, useful in your athletic endeavours
- Your rectus adominus (your six pack) gets fully contracted unlike when performing sit-ups or other ground based ab exercises
- Hanging from a horizontal bar dec0mpresses your spine
- Hanging leg raises will not only smash your core, but you’ll also increase and build great grip strength (which translates over to grip strength on deadlifts, rows and the like) as well as stressing your lats and shoulders to an extent due to the isometric hold taking place (you’re locking your body in place for the duration of each set).
- Hanging leg raises will increase your lower back strength
- Mobility and flexibility are increased via full range of motion hanging leg raises
Hanging bent knee raise
It’s time to take it to the bar!
Hold onto a horizontal bar (a pull-up bar, tree branch or piece of playground equipment) I think you’ll find a slightly wider grip to be easier as a beginner.
While keeping your core tight bend your knees and lift them up as high as possible.
Slowly lower your legs back down – the key to avoid swinging on the negative (downwards) portion of each rep is to consciously think about keeping your abs tight for the entire duration.
Tip: you want to form at minimum an L shape with your body, the higher up you can get your knees the better, but aim for at least 90 degrees.
Hanging full range of motion leg raise
It’s time to get those toes to the bar!
Keep your legs dead straight while hanging from your horizontal bar while ensuring your core is tight and your elbows remain straight (there is to be no bending of the elbows) lift your legs up and continue past the 90 degree L variation until your feet touch the pull-up bar, if you look at the shape of your body in the fully contracted position of a complete range of motion hanging straight leg raise it would resemble that of the letter ‘V’.
This is the traditional hanging straight leg raise! Aim to perform 10 strict repetitions without any kipping or swinging before moving on. This here is the benchmark, the below are all just slightly more advanced variations to keep things interesting!
Putting It All Together
Jump Rope – 20 repetitions (as you become more advanced with the jump rope alternate from regular jumps to crossovers, doubleunders and high knees).
Deadball slams – 10 repetitions (slam as hard as possible).
Leg raises – 20 repetitions (perfom the highest level variation we can).