Jumping rope is a classic exercise that gets your blood pumping quickly while providing a quick full-body workout. It's ideal if you can't make it to the gym each day but want to shed some inches. Your hamstrings are the long muscles along the back of your upper leg, and jumping rope works your entire leg including these muscles. Some variations on the standard jumping style will even further benefit the hamstring workout.
Start your workout standing with your knees slightly bent and hold the jump rope at hip height. With your palms facing in, jump and keep your landing weight on the front balls of your feet. Be sure not to lock your knees and try to keep your torso and head straight. Practice with the standard 2-foot jump rope and as you get better, attempt to jump with alternating feet, landing on the opposite foot each time. A high step jump also gets your heart pumping.
Jumping rope works your arms, legs and core, all while improving your balance. Keep your arms close to the body and stand up tall to work the shoulders and obliques along the side of your body. Varying how you jump will help prevent boredom through variety and work out different sections of your upper and lower legs.
Your hamstrings run along the upper back of your legs and control the backward bending movement of the hips and flexing of your knees, such as bringing your foot to your glutes as a stretch. The more you bend your knees while jumping, the more intense the workout for your hamstrings. Without locking your knees when extended, do high step jumps and running jumps, which work the complementary muscles of the quadriceps and hamstrings. Just five minutes of each jump style will have you feeling the stretch throughout your legs.
Safety and Tips
As with any new exercise routine, learn to listen to your body's stress signals. Take your time as you acclimate to jumping and do so on a softer surface such as a yoga mat to lessen the impact. Also choose a heavier PVC-style rope that will slow the pace and allow you to build your stamina. Take extra care of body-weight impact if you have substantial weight to lose. If this is the case or you have other health concerns, consult your doctor before you begin this routine.
Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.