Skipping – Not just for girls in the Playground

Skipping is often overlooked, yet provides one of the easiest and most effective cardio workouts possible. Used by boxers, endurance athletes and many tennis stars, “jumping rope” is a great way to improve your stamina and endurance.

Read our guide on how to get the most from this challenging exercise.

So – just how effective is skipping?

  •  10 Minutes of Skipping is the equivalent to running a mile in 8 minutes
  •  You can burn up to 700 calories an hour
  • Skipping is less likely to cause injury than running as the impact is absorbed by both legs and you are landing on the balls of your feet, not your heels.
  • Strengthens arms and shoulders

You can use a rope as part of a gym session, or as a complete routine outside or at home. There are different types of ropes available to buy, normal, speed and weighted, each offering a more intense workout than the previous. The speed and weighted ropes are designed to work the shoulders and upper arms harder to improve muscle development. See our recommendations below.

Having a rope at home is much more likely to motivate you to work out. On days when you don´t make it to the gym, you have a fully accessible workout within reach. Try our workout routine and start to understand why Muhammad Ali was able to float like a butterfly but sting like a bee.

Techniques:

1. Bounce Step

- Keep your elbows tucked in with your hands 25cm to 30cm from your body, just below your waist. Keep your feet together and jump as the rope passes eye level.

Top Tip: “Keep a slight bend in your knees and land on the balls of your feet”

Best for: Burning fat

2. The Ski

- Imagine each foot is crossing a line with each hop. Stay on the same spot but alternate your feet so with each jump the other foot is in front.

Top Tip: “Keep your upper body straight and feet pointing forwards”

Best For: Obliques, inner thighs and glutes.

3. Knees Up

- Start with a bounce step to gain a rhythm. Then as the rope comes around, lift one knee and bounce on one foot,then repeat with the other.

Top Tip: “Raise your knee as close to your chest as possible, holding it up for one hop to really work your abs”

Best For: Balance and explosive power.

4. The Cross

- Do the bounce. And as the rope passes your face, cross your arms and jump through the loop. Then straighten your arms quickly before the rope comes back over your head

Top Tip: Be decisive in your movement and cross your arms as wide as possible to begin. As you improve you can narrow the loop to jump through so that the move is more fluid.

Best For: Shoulders and biceps.

5. Double spin

- Do three bounce jumps, and bend both knees lift them up as far as you can on the
fourth. At the same time spin the rope twice before landing your feet

Top Tip: Increase the speed on the fourth jump to achieve the double. Lift knees as high as possible.

Best For: Abs and hamstrings.

First you will need to buy a rope – We recommend the following for value and quality – Click the link below now to see it this floor slapping spinner:

To begin, we recommend you practice each of the techniques until you are comfortable and can perform each without tripping over or hitting the back of your head with the rope.

A simple workout could consist of the following:

  • Complete 3 x 3 minutes rounds with a 1 minute rest in between each round.
  • Each session begin with a different technique so that you start each one on fresh legs regularly.

Or for a serious and more complete workout that includes a range of simple but extremely effective exercises, Click here to see our Full Rope Workout

Benefits and Rules of a Full Body Workout

In the Army, you will need to have a combination of speed and strength. Having the balance between the two is important. If you are built like a brick shed it is likely you will be slow. However, If you have the frame of a long distance runner it is likely you will have great cardio fitness but will lack overall body strength.

If you train in a way that focuses on developing muscles throughout your whole body as well as cardio, you will improve at balanced levels. Unless you are a body builder, full body workouts are a fantastic way to build muscle and improve fitness. They also improve your cardiovascular fitness and require less time to complete.

Main Rules for a Full Body Workout:

  • Train every 2-3 days - Your body needs time to recover after a heavy workout (at least 24 hours as a minimum) but keeping a regular routine is important in order to see consistent improvement.

 

  • Lift Heavy – To maximise the effect of each workout it is important to push your body to the limit when lifting weights. This means that for each exercise, use a weight that will push you to failure or near failure with each set. You will make optimal progress by doing this.

 

  • One hour or less - If you follow the advice of lifting heavy weights, staying in the gym too long can actually have a hindering effect on muscle growth. Intense workouts with lots of compound exercises will increase testosterone production which aids muscle growth. However as you lift, and even more so if you workout too long, a hormone called cortisol is also produced which has a catabolic effect of your muscles.

 

  • One exercise per muscle group – Follow the other steps in this guide and by using basic, heavy exercises you will find that one is enough for each muscle group. For example, do bench press OR incline bench press with the most weight you can manage for one set, but not both. Maximise the effect of this by using a different exercise each workout.

 

  • Change the order of your workout – Rotate the order of exercises so that you start on a different body part first each session. Start with chest one day, back on the next workout and then legs on the third workout. This ensures your whole body gets the maximum attention and you will progress evenly.

 

  • Post-workout Protein – Drink a protein shake or eat a meal high in protein immediately after you complete you workout. This is important for your muscles to develop and to aid recovery.

60 Minute Killer Gym Circuit

60 Minute Killer Gym Circuit –

If you want to increase both strength and aerobic fitness, we challenge you to take on this monster circuit. Complete as many of the exercises as you can in one hour. Depending on your current fitness level or If you have less time, you can adjust the number of reps as necessary (e.g. – If you only have 30 minutes, reduce the reps by half)

If you are unsure how to perform any of the exercises, click on them to see an instructional video.

Each session aim to progress further or complete the circuit in less time. Record your results, Track your progress, Become a machine. 

Bench dips – 100 reps
Dumbbell press-up rows (5-10kg) – 50 reps
Body weight squats – 100 reps
Barbell curl and press (20kg) – 50 reps
Side plank – 3 minutes each side
Sit-ups – 100 reps
Lunges – 50 reps each leg
Plate row (10-20kg) – 100 reps
Leg lowers – 100 reps
Row – 4 x 500m – best effort
Treadmill – 2 x 800m best effort
Cycle – 2 x 2km – best effort

Mini Barbell Circuit – complete two circuits. Do each exercise for 30 seconds and move on, so 4 minutes in total. No Rest.
Barbell curls (10kg) – 30 seconds
Barbell shoulder press (10kg) – 30 seconds
Barbell upright rows (10kg) – 30 seconds
Barbell bent over row (10kg) – 30 seconds

Mini Floor Circuit – 10 press-ups followed by 20 burpees – Repeat 3 times without a rest.
Press-ups – 10
Burpees – 20

Have you tried this circuit? How did you get on? Tell us below.

Interval training – 3 different approaches

Here are three different suggestions to create your own lung beating workout.

Interval type: Standard

Here is a typical workout using a standard interval format. You match each period of high intensity with an equal amount of time at a low intensity

1 - 5 minute warm up. (fast walk or a light job to slowly raise your heart rate.

2 - 1 minute high intensity exercise pushing yourself to the limit, followed by 1 minute low intensity to recover – Repeated for duration of workout

3 - 5 minute cool down. (light jog slowing to a walking pace by the end of 5 minutes)

 

Interval type: Pyramid

The structure of this type of training is typically good for people who are going to be taking a Beep Test. The variation of the time at high intensity requires your body to adjust quickly and will strengthen endurance.

1 - 5 minute warm up. (fast walk or a light job to slowly raise your heart rate)
2 - 30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low (Recovery)
3 - 45 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low (Recovery)
4 - 60 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low (Recovery)
5 - 90 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low (Recovery)
6 - 60 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low (Recovery)
7 - 45 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low (Recovery)
8 - 30 seconds high intensity
9 - 5 minute cool down. (light jog slowing to a walking pace by the end of 5 minutes)

 

Interval type: Sports Conditioning

In real life (during sports or Army operations) there is not usually such a precise pattern of high intensity and recovery and so to get your body to the peak of fitness it is important to keep it guessing.

Below is an example but experiment with your own times and challenges. Remember to rest longer after the times when you use the most energy.

1 - 5 minute warm up. (fast walk or a light job to slowly raise your heart rate)

2 -  2 minute high intensity followed by 2 minutes low intensity (repeat once)

3 - 30 seconds high intensity followed by 30 seconds low intensity (repeat four times)

4 - 10 second sprints followed by 90 seconds rest (repeat 6 – 10 times)

5 - 5 minute cool down. (light jog slowing to a walking pace by the end of 5 minutes)

Whether you apply one (or all) of the above methods to your training, you are sure to improve your cardio fitness very quickly.

Train with purpose.

 

How to beat the beep test – Training guide

The Beep test is a fundamental part of the British Army Officer selection process. It is a measure of your aerobic fitness and is known to be one of the most challenging fitness tests created.

You will be required to take this test and reach a minimum of the following levels:

Men: 10.2

Women: 8.1

Here are some ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness and prepare you for the real test.

Key focus: Interval Training, Sprints, strength development

Remember: Long, steady paced running will improve your overall level of fitness but is not a good way to train for a beep test. To increase your aerobic capacity you need to focus high intensity training.

If you have access to a treadmill

Set the treadmill to 1% incline

Spend 5 minutes warming up and raising your heart rate by walking at a steady pace.

Set the treadmill to 8km/hr

Each minute, increase the speed by 0.5km/hr

Click To EnlargeClick table to enlarge

 

Keep increasing the pace every minute until you are unable to continue.

A very important factor that is often forgotten is to record your results – It is essential to track your progress and to improve.

Each time you take this test, write down the speed or the minute that you had to stop. Every 3 attempts aim to improve and progress to the next level.

Outside training

Any type of high intensity interval training (HIIT) will help you get closer to your beep test goal. This includes exercises where you sprint or push your body to its limit for short bursts and then recover and let your heart rate lower before repeating.

Here are some examples of Interval training:

Hill Sprints – Run as fast as you can to the top of a hill (or a partial way up) and then walk back down and repeat as many times as you can

Track Sprints – Run 100 metres as fast as you are able to and then walk for the next 100 metres, then repeat the sprint for 100m and so on.

Skipping – Get a rope and skip hard for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds at a slow pace. Repeat for as long as you can.

It is important to note that any type of training that raises your heart rate to near maximum levels and then followed by a recovery period before repeating will have a great effect on your fitness levels.  Avoid long, steady paced and often boring cardio exercises, keep it interesting and you will be well on your way to passing the all important Beep Test at selection.

However, probably the best way to get better at the beep test is to actually practice it. This way you can improve the level you are able to achieve and make sure you can pass the required stage on the actual day of you assessment. You can get the MP3 below and set up a two markers 20 metres apart anywhere you like.