If the idea of skipping only brings back distant memories from the school playground, I’d say it’s time to give it another shot! If you follow my Snapchat (@fitnessontoast), you might have noticed a load of videos where I’m working on my skip, as well as in THIS video from last year. As a form of exercise, I absolutely love it! To my mind, it’s one of the most high-energy yet low-impact ways to get fit, with a bunch of broader health benefits to boot! Ahead of Sport Relief 2016 next month, which I supported last year through my Swimathon adventures, Sure has launched the world’s first Skipathon! They’re asking the Great British nation to join in and help them reach the target of 1 million skips as part of their month-long Sure Skipathon and they will donate £200,000 to Sport Relief – That’s money which will help make a difference to people living tough lives both here in the UK and across the world’s poorest communities – AND you get fitter too! Read below to find out more about this and my 5 top reasons to skip!
“HOW DO I GET INVOLVED IN THE SKIPATHON?” Visit this website & follow the easy instructions to donate your skip! (more…)
Alot of my clients don’t (at first) think they need to stretch. Some don’t see the value. Some think they should be lifting something instead, or running somewhere. Some think they’ll (embarrassingly) never be able to reach their toes! BUT by stretching for a few minutes, you will see and feel the benefits. Here are just 6 (of many) reasons why I consider it vitally important to stretch, in no particular order!
1) Reduces your risk of injury drastically, and keeps you mobile as your body matures.
2) Improves your flexibility, by increasing the range of motion of a joint by stretching out the surrounding soft tissue (i.e. muscles tendons & ligaments)
3) Speeds muscle recovery – after an intense workout, the muscles remain in a partially-contracted state, and by not stretching afterwards, you will feel stiff and sore for longer. Stretching relaxes, elongates and softens the muscles which is important for both strength and endurance training.
4) Creates correct muscle balance – failing to stretch regularly after workouts can lead to problems with posture, & muscle imbalance. Consider someone who sits at a desk for 10 hours everyday, some of his / her muscles will naturally become tighter, others weaker. For example, the hip flexors will be in a mildly contracted state whilst seated, and after a while the hip flexor can tilt the pelvis forward, causing the spine to round, which leads to pack pain. So even if you’re not working out, stretching out the pelvis, hip flexor, back, neck and shoulders for a few minutes every day, will help your body stay conditioned.
5) Improves balance – by increasing the range of motion in joints, it gives the body one fewer reason to impede itself and fall over, as stretching encourages uninhibited movement.
6) Muscular growth – The fascia (fibrous tissue) surrounding muscles is said to limit the amount of space muscles have to grow. By stretching a muscle under a resistance, you can encourage further muscular growth (hypertrophy). Be aware though, Extreme Fascial Stretching (for muscle growth) is very stressful to muscular tissue and can cause injury if not practised properly.
TYPES OF STRETCHING ?
1) PRE WORKOUT ? Dynamic Stretching – always warm up for c. 5 minutes before stretching, making sure the muscles are actively prepared, and then perform dynamic stretches, which effectively means ‘stretching whilst moving’. These stretches should only be held for 3-10 seconds each. Some examples are walking lunges, lunging and reaching, power skipping, knee hugs, quad walks etc. 2) POST WORKOUT ? Static Stretching – these are slow and constant, and each stretch is usually held for 10-30 seconds, during which you’ll consider them mildly uncomfortable. Sometimes they’ll be passive, as someone stretches you out whilst your body relaxes. You should avoid bouncing whilst holding your static stretch, as it can risk tearing muscular fibre. These stretches aren’t designed to make you sweat, rather to lengthen/relax the muscle spindles.
WHY TO SKIP? Skipping (or ‘jump rope’ in America) is a fantastic way to get fit! 20 minutes of intense skipping can burn 4-500 calories, not to mention the thermogenic after-effects that keep you burning calories all day! Walk into a boxing gym and it’s almost certain that all the boxers there skip – it’s not just for girls! It improves footwork, speed, coordination, stamina, agility, and it strengthens the muscles in your legs as well as your abdominal, back, chest, arms and shoulders muscles. Also it’s relatively low impact on the joints, yet high intensity, which gives a fabulous cardio workout that’s less dangerous and surely less strenuous than running.
HOW TO SKIP? Beginners, have patience. Skipping is not something you learn the first time so don’t give up in frustration after 5 minutes – stick with it! If you’re new to skipping, view it as a skill to learn before using it as a tool for conditioning. Once you have learned the skill you can start using it as a full-on workout! I suggest kicking off with frequent ’20-second-then-10-second-break’ skip sessions and extend the duration from there. It helps to practice in front of a mirror, viewed front and side-on. Start with the rope behind you, arms relaxed at your sides and rope on the ground. Use your wrist to turn the rope, keeping the rest of your arms as motionless as possible. As the rope approaches your feet jump lightly (from your toes) over the rope. Stay on the balls of your feet when you jump. Keep your knees slightly bent all along. It’ll feel unnatural at the start, but with a little practise, the technique will come!
WHERE TO SKIP? I recommend a shock absorbing surface – a sprung wooden floor, a gym mat, an outdoor track, or a tennis court. Theses surfaces are kinder to your ankles and feet.
WHAT ROPE TO GET? You’re spoilt for choice! Popular ropes include the speed rope, the digital rope and weighted rope. (Whatever you get make sure the length is correct. The way to measure it is to stand in the middle of the rope, & the handles should come up to your waist, lower ribs – if it reaches your shoulders it’s too long.)
a) The Speed rope: As the name suggests it’s lightweight and great for speed, great for warm ups, it’s cheap, light to carry around, but can make it harder for advanced foot work as it’s unweighted.
b) The digital rope: Through the magic of technology, it enables you to estimate the distance, revolutions of the rope and the amount of calories burnt. It’s similar to the speed rope in the way it’s so light, & therefore harder to do advanced foot work.
c) The weighted Rope: Weighted handles are great for wrist, forearm and triceps strength.
d) Personal Favourite? I recommend the Nike weighted jump rope – it’s a bit heavier than most speed ropes & it’s great for more complicated foot work. It’s slightly more expensive, but worth the investment I think!
Xmas morning, preparing for a day of festive eating, so decided on a quick 30 minute skip and stretch, whilst trying out my new all-singing all dancing training clothes. They’re from a shop that’s only just opened up in London (right by Sloane Square), called Lululemon Athletica who are huge in America, and their clothes are perfect for what I want; comfy, fitted, breathable, 4-way stretch etc. I absolutely love the company’s look – feminine, sporty and still very practical, which I find pretty rare in training clothes. Click ‘more’ to see what I’m wearing. Merry Christmas everyone! Faya x