Tag Archives: jump rope

The benefits of HIIE, a new approach to cardio

IMG_0811If there is one thing that fitness enthusiasts, researchers, and doctors are all singing the praises of these days, it is HIIE(high intensity intermittent exercise). Even jogglers like myself have joined the chorus, even if I can barely carry a tune.

What is HIIE? It is very short bursts of intense cardio at VO2 Max that is as beneficial or probably more beneficial than moderate intensity cardio for 30 to 40 minutes, according to recent research. It may be more beneficial for losing weight and improving insulin sensitivity than moderate cardio.

Getting fit from doing 4 minutes of cardio? I know what you’re thinking, but look here – The Unbelievable 4-Minute Cardio Workout.

A closer look at the science behind this in the Journal of Obesity:

In conclusion, regular HIIE produces significant increases in aerobic and anaerobic fitness and brings about significant skeletal muscle adaptations that are oxidative and glycolytic in nature. HIIE appears to have a dramatic acute and chronic effect on insulin sensitivity. The effects of HIIE on subcutaneous and abdominal fat loss are promising but more studies using overweight individuals need to be carried out. Given that the major reason given for not exercising is time [64], it is likely that the brevity of HIIE protocols should be appealing to most individuals interested in fat reduction. The optimal intensity and length of the sprint and rest periods together with examination of the benefits of other HIIE modalities need to be established.

That’s neat! So if you can’t do 30 minutes of cardio a day at a moderate pace due to lack of time, just do 4 minutes of intense cardio. But then don’t sit for too long, or, I believe, most of the benefits will vanish. This is great information, but don’t use HIIE as a replacement just yet for your daily 30 minute cardio workout if you have time to do it. Do HIIE in addition to, not as a replacement for moderate cardio, which is still important.

You can do HIIE while running, cycling, jumping rope, joggling, and some forms of dance cardio.

When I joggle, I sometimes go all out for 30 seconds to a minute in intervals. It is so exhilarating, sprinting while juggling very fast. Rhythm is very important here so that I don’t drop the balls. It is also quite shocking to anyone who witnesses it, although a neighbor of mine who is impossible to impress told me the other day she wants to see me do it with bowling balls. I told her I’m working on it.

So add intensity to your cardio workouts, especially if you are short on time.

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Jump rope training

In this era of increasingly super-ultra high-tech fitness, many simple, old-school fitness tools are unfortunately getting neglected. It just looks so “uncool” to some people, to use something your great grandparents may have used to keep fit. With all the high-tech options available today, and with how accurately they can keep track of calories burned, why go primitive? While I am not opposed to technological progress, I believe some of the best workouts you can possibly have can still be done with little to no equipment.

Take jumping rope for instance. Very ancient and ever affordable, a 150 lb(68 kg) person can burn 238 calories in 20 minutes by jumping rope at a moderate pace. And it exercises both your upper and lower body. All you need is the rope, and the space to do this(wooden floors are best). There are so many to choose from, and you can even make your own jump rope. It’s pretty good cross training for runners and boxers. Boxers frequently jump rope because it improves cardiovascular fitness and stamina. And heck, it’s a lot of fun when I do it very fast.

Besides being a good total body cardio exercise, jumping rope can also improve coordination. According to the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey: 

Adding rope jump to training programs improves joint repositioning and coordination. Weighted Rope Training group got greater gains for coordination and eccentric endurance parameters for lower extremities in a closed kinetic chain.

This makes it excellent cross-training for a variety of fitness activities. This is also one of the reasons I often recommend jumping rope to people who have trouble learning how to juggle. Becoming a good rope jumper may also help you become a competent joggler. Remember, in joggling, rhythm is everything, and jumping rope can help you develop a good sense of rhythm. It may even help you become a better dancer, so maybe you can compete on Dancing with the Stars after all(is this still on?).

I don’t jump rope as often as I used to, but being in the “rope bubble” as I call it puts me into a meditative state that is similar to how I feel when I juggle.

High-tech fitness equipment has its place, but they don’t guarantee amazing fitness results. And whatever you do, don’t forget to work on your coordination.

Juggling as cross-training

Cross-training is when exercisers alternate their fitness routine with something different yet complementary to their preferred, usual regimen. It aims to improve overall fitness by addressing whatever shortcomings their usual training has. A good example of this is a runner who occasionally cycles; running mainly uses the calf muscles while cycling mainly uses the quadriceps. By occasionally cycling, a runner can improve his ability to run up hills, since running up an incline relies more on the quadriceps. 

It all makes intuitive sense, although science hasn’t necessarily validated all the various forms of cross-training for athletes. Nevertheless, cross-training is encouraged by coaches and fitness experts to elite athletes and non-elite athletes alike. A runner who occasionally cycles will be more fit than a runner who exclusively runs.

It is my opinion that both juggling and joggling are neglected as cross-training for a variety of athletic activities. Off the top of your head, think of all the various sports that require good hand-eye coordination, and upper body endurance, which juggling is very good at improving. While juggling isn’t the only way to improve hand-eye coordination, it is one of the most convenient and is also a moderate aerobic workout in its own right. 

Consider boxers for example: They regularly run or use a jump-rope as cross-training to improve their overall aerobic fitness and endurance. However, neither of these helps optimize the critically important hand-eye coordination of the boxer, though jump-roping is slightly better than running in this regard. Jump-roping may be good for developing a good sense of rhythm and exercises the arms unlike running(even better if you can do a lot of tricks with the jump rope). It is still not as “good” as juggling.

Now imagine if instead of running or jump-roping a boxer joggled outside for a few miles or “joggled” in place at the gym with 3 balls. I believe this would be an improvement in their cross-training regimen, although I must admit I know very little about boxing. I believe it could improve their hand-eye coordination, unless they are doing something else as part of their training that has already optimized their hand-eye coordination.

If somehow the boxer could work his way up to juggling or joggling 5 balls, he may reap even more benefits. This is speculation on my part. Although I have never boxed, I did study martial arts for a few years which is similar. Juggling/joggling could also be used as cross-training for cycling, rock-climbing, tennis, martial arts, and so many other life-affirming activities. Even all by itself, it is fun and gives your brain a good workout.

For the record, I think joggling has improved my dancing ability, something which I had no ability to do before since I’ve always been a big klutz.