The Performance Life
Jump Rope Secrets from Buddy Lee
Most kids learn to jump rope in grade school and as adults give it little thought as a training technique unless watching a boxing movie.
That’s a mistake says Buddy Lee, a former Olympic wrestler and the author of the new book Jump Rope Training: The Complete System for Fitness and Performance. The low-impact, low-cost training tool doesn’t just improve quickness for boxers. It improves speed, agility, and mobility and is one of the most efficient cardio workouts.
Jumping rope for 10 minutes at 120 RPM produces the same cardio benefit as running a 12-minute mile, swimming 720 yards in 12 minutes, or playing two sets of tennis. Lee, who travels the country speaking about the benefits of jumping rope and entertaining crowds with his routines—several of which are YouTube classics—recently spoke to CorePerformance.com.
Core Performance: Why isn’t jump roping more popular?
Buddy Lee: It’s been around so you’d think it would be. The American Heart Association has done a great job promoting it to kids but jumping is a skilled movement that requires proper timing. It can become very frustrating no matter how fit you are. You have to break it down step by step.
CP: How did you discover jump roping?
BL: I was a very motivated kid and knew I had to find a way to get to college. I wrestled at 105 pounds as a kid and had a next-door neighbor who was a martial artist. One day I saw him jumping rope. I saw it as something girls did but when he did it he was doing it to become better at martial arts. I asked him if he could show me and he said the key to jumping is to be light on your feet. If you can hear your feet hitting the floor, you’re jumping too hard. I integrated it into my training and became a high-school state wrestling champion with 15 scholarship offers.
CP: How important is proper form?
BL: The key is to jump no more than an inch off the ground. The higher you jump, the harder you fall. When you jump just one inch off the ground, you’re not going to hurt yourself. You have to learn the proper takeoff and landing, how to load your body, take off and land when you’re jumping no more than one inch, and minimizing the forces coming down on the joints. That reduces the chances of ever getting hurt.
It’s about controlling the forces using your body to absorb the impact properly. We teach people to land lightly on the balls of the feet. When you can do 140 jumps without a miss, with proper takeoff, landing, good body and head position, that’s where you want to be. The goal is to become proficient at 140 jumps without a miss and then working up to 500.
CP: Do most people jump properly?
BL: No because it’s not something they learn. It’s a skilled movement and when you do it a lot, you get better at it. People land flat-footed and on their heels, which is why we see so many injuries. You should be pushing on the balls of the feet and landing lightly. It’s easy to jump as high as you can but jumping just one inch takes a lot of control.
CP: Can jumping rope help with any sport?
BL: Speed is speed no matter what sport you’re in. Jumping ability and the ability to jump high and quick benefit any sport. Balance is balance. Jumping improves balance, coordination, reaction time, start speed, reflexes, lateral shifting capabilities. Whatever sport you’re in you’ll benefit from jump roping.
About The Author
Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.