"Boxers are always jumping rope—why? Is it really such a great conditioning exercise? I’m not even sure how I’d start." — Mickey C., Los Angeles, CA
"Watch any boxer in training, and sooner or later he’ll reach for a rope,” says boxing coach Adam Colberg of Greenwich, Connecticut. “Pro boxers often do 10 to 15 minutes a day.”
Why? “Boxing is both aerobic and anaerobic,” Colberg says, “and a rope can also be used for either. The speed can be varied to reach a lower heart rate over a longer time, or higher over a shorter time.” So it’s the perfect interval workout, as a fighter can lose weight and build muscle but also improve speed, agility, and endurance.
Plus, says Ross Enamait of rosstraining.com: “Jumping enhances footwork and rhythm, which are both key to moving gracefully in the ring.”
To start, get an adjustable plastic “speed” rope, says Colberg, and try single-unders: “Use a light swinging action, and as the rope comes over, take a little spring off the balls of your feet so it passes underneath.” Once you can do continuous jumps, learn to shuffle your feet side to side; then time yourself: When you can do a few two-or three-minute rounds, resting 30 to 60 seconds in between, that’s great progress.
Soon you can work up to more show-offy stuff—“tricks like double-unders, with two spins per jump,” he says. Way to go, Rocky.