#FebSkip: Guest Post by Victoria Haigh

At the start of February on Twitter a few of us decided to set a challenge to jump/skip rope each day of the month.  Victoria Haigh, a fitness professional (qualified personal trainer and well as nutritionist and sport massage practitioner) was kind enough to offer to share her views on skipping, and why #FebSkip is a great challenge – not just for February.

#FebSkip Thoughts by Victoria

What do the NHL, a British Olympic Event rider and boxers all over the world have in common with the primary school playground?

They skip or jump rope, depending on which side of the pond you come from.

During a skiing holiday to Canada last winter, I was inspired when an NHL player revealed in a TV interview that his off-ice training included skipping. British former European Three Day Event Champion Ginny Elliott used skipping to stay in shape when she was competing as Ginny Holgate at the 1984 Olympics. I remember being amazed that she would regularly skip for the duration of a Sunday afternoon matinee on TV.

Ironically it was while packing for my recent ski holiday that I was trying to come up with something portable that I could do to keep my training up without having to pull on running kit or strip down to swimwear after an already punishing day on the slopes. Skipping seemed like the perfect answer

On my return I discovered that a twitter friend @donna_de had been set the exact same thing by her physiotherapist to build up strength in her calf muscles, atrophied due to a debilitating nerve disease, and had set herself the challenge of skipping every day throughout February, inviting us all to join her as part of the #FebSkip trend. It all seemed like too much of a fabulous coincidence!

So, why skip & how?

Skipping is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise, its cheap and unlike running (unless you have a treadmill) you can do it indoors! The kitchen in front of the Aga is my favourite spot but you do need a reasonable amount of space, both around and overhead. I understand Donna nearly took out some vintage light fittings skipping in her hallway hmmm

The right length rope is a must, mine is a speed rope from www.physicalcompany.co.uk where you can size the correct rope length depending on your height and your favourite colour – mine is purple! Other than that, a good pair of trainers and, if you’re female, its probably worth investing in a high impact sports bra.

We’re all getting older, I don’t think Donna will mind me mentioning that she recently celebrated a ‘significant’ birthday and mine is just around the corner. A couple of years ago I attended a CPD (continuous professional development) course on Fat Loss Strategies to assist with my client fitness training. This cited Charles Poliquin that as we reach 40 and beyond the aerobic training we have relied on for so long is no longer effective or right for us. It places a lot of stress on the body, causing an inflammatory reaction which leads to weight gain around the middle – one of the places we want rid of it!

Poliquin’s Biosignature Internship teaches us that we should instead focus on short bursts of maximal effort with recoveries (interval training) which, when accompanied with a major muscle strength training programme and a reduction in refined carbohydrates, can kick start our metabolism and help us to achieve the results we crave as our hormone patterns shift. The Times on Saturday also ran a similar article back at the beginning of the year featuring Elle McPherson and her personal trainer.

Start off simply trying to link skips together, it is after all a co-ordination exercise as well as a physical one. Try and focus on the rhythm of rope hitting the floor and your jump over it. That rhythm needs to be constant – if you lose the rhythm you lose it! You can jump 2 feet together, 1 foot leading, either as single jumps or with another little jump behind it.
Once you have mastered linking your skips try doing 10 as 2 feet, 10 leading with one leg, then 10 leading with the other and go ahead and make stuff up!. This will stop you from developing a dominance and muscle imbalance. It may take time (remember learning to ride a bike?) but if you did it in the school playground the chances are it will soon come back. 

Some Skipping Workouts

Assuming you have spent time mastering the basics, here’s how to make it into an anaerobic threshold training session for maximum fat burning potential (following a 5 minute aerobic warm up & dynamic stretching):

5 mins as 2:15 easy, 30 secs maximal effort, 2:15 easy
Again, think about leading with different legs to maintain interest during the recoveries and don’t forget that maximal effort doesn’t just mean fast it can mean high, too.

3x the above would give you 15 mins

For a more advanced workout of 30 mins try 45 seconds at maximum intensity with 4:15 recoveries done 6 times.

30 mins is a long time to skip, you are on your toes, pushing off a bent leg for the entirety, working both gastrocnemius & soleus muscles. If your calf muscles begin to complain by all means stop and stretch them regularly & briefly during the recovery phase – your heart rate will be high from the maximal phase so you can afford to take 20 seconds out to do this. Follow this with really good deep static stretches at the end of your sets.

Polinquin’s Puzzle

Poliquin suggests that you compliment your 30 minute cv interval training sessions with a major muscle strength workout of 3×12 reps per muscle on alternate days, doing 3 sessions of each during a week. If you are new to exercise you will need to build up to this and if you are hypertensive, asthmatic or very overweight you will need to begin with an aerobic foundation training phase for a few weeks first.

The final piece in the jigsaw puzzle is Polinquin’s suggestion that you cut back on refined carbs – white rice, white bread, white pasta, breakfast cereals, anything containing sugar, chocolate, cakes and alcohol.

If you need a hand with any of the above contact me directly otherwise happy #FebSkip!

Victoria Haigh has been providing fitness training and nutritional advising for 6 years.  She embraces learning more about the body, how it works for us and how to train as we get older.  She loves doing what she enjoys and what she is fascinated by for a living – and helping people to make the most of their health.  Before entering the health and fitness world Victoria was an Events Manager in the Motorsports industry.  She is a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals and has done her training with Premier Global.

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