In any boxing film, there’s almost always a training montage. And, in that training montage, nine times out of ten there will be a shot of the wannabe Champion of the World training with a skipping rope.
All the pros know the value of including skipping into their fitness routines, but skipping has also become a well-known feature of boxing training across all skill levels. But, why do boxers skip?
This isn’t your average playground game of jump rope; skipping for boxing training is a tough workout with many benefits, so, let’s take a look at why boxers skip.
Skipping improves your footwork
If you want to learn how to float like a butterfly, so you can sting like a bee, then skipping is a must-have in your fitness regime.
It’s not really surprising that skipping would help with footwork. Staying light on your feet is an essential part of skipping; you can’t build up a rhythm if you’re slapping your feet down without any thought.
Skipping well, when you get a flow going and can sustain it for minutes at a time, forces you to be aware of where you’re placing your feet. You’ve got to stay up on the balls of your feet and keep control of them as they respond to what your hands are doing with the rope.
Boxers use skipping to improve their footwork. The repetitive motions of skipping rope while staying light on their feet helps to prepare them for being fast on their feet when moving around an opponent in the ring.
Skipping helps with coordination and timing
If you’re not coordinated when you skip rope, you’re not going to be able to keep it up for very long. Repeated practice with a skipping rope helps a boxer to improve the coordination and timing of their feet.
You have to get the timing right between when you jump and when the rope will pass under your feet. If you don’t get this right you can expect some pretty nasty whips from the rope around your back and ankles!
But, it’s not just the coordination and timing of your feet that skipping improves. To successfully jump rope for a sustained period of time, you need to have top coordination between your hands and your feet.
The rope is controlled by small rotations of the wrist, and this needs to be perfectly in sync with when you jump your feet. A lack of coordination or poor timing will make this synchronisation impossible.
The best way to improve your timing and coordination is simple, good old practice. Building the muscle memory of the instinctive connection between hands and feet helps boxers in the ring to naturally react when facing an opponent.
Skipping is effective for conditioning
Boxers love skipping because it’s a great entire body workout.
From the way they hold their head and brace their backs, to the timing of their feet and the revolutions of their wrists; when a boxer skips it engages muscles across the entire body.
On days off from the gym, or as a warm-up, some people will opt for a run to keep their fitness up and condition their body. But, running is a relatively simple exercise for conditioning the body, mainly working just the legs.
Skipping, on the other hand, works muscles in the arms, wrists, shoulders, back, glutes and legs. Jumping rope is a highly energetic cardiovascular exercise which makes it great for conditioning training for boxers.
Boxers skip because it gives them a full-body conditioning workout, improving their cardiovascular stamina. This stamina is essential in the ring, especially in the final rounds when you need to dig deep in your reserves of endurance to overcome an opponent.
Skipping builds mental stamina and endurance
It’s not just a boxers physical stamina that skipping rope helps to build.
Improving your skipping skills from complete beginner to top-level professional takes practice. Lots of practice.
You’re not going to be hopping around like Sugar Ray Robinson the first time you pick up a rope. You’re going to trip up and get in a tangle. You’re going to walk away with red whip marks burning in the backs of your legs. And, you’re going to want to throw in the towel.
Overcoming these setbacks, through practice, commitment and dedication helps to not only build your physical stamina but also your mental endurance.
And you’re going to need a tough mind in the ring. When your body is exhausted, bruised and bleeding but you know you’ve got to keep going, moving your body forward often has more to do with your mind than your body.
Skipping is great for building mental stamina because it forces you to focus on your progress, learning from mistakes to improve your skills. And, when you start to build up a rhythm, fighting against the burning muscles to keep going takes a strong mind. Not giving up is the hardest part.
Best skipping ropes for boxers
There are loads of different skipping ropes on the market, from the fabric ropes we all remember from the playground as kids to heavy leather ropes and light-weight souped-up sports ropes.
It can be a bit of a minefield trying to find the right rope for a skipping workout for boxers, but there are some simple things to look out for and to avoid when shopping for a skipping rope for boxing.
1. Steer clear of anything too heavy
- It might be tempting to opt for a fancy beaded or weighted rope, you think it’ll help build your strength and upper body muscles. But weighted ropes stop you from building up the speed needed to effectively skip.
2. Look for slim handles
- You want the handles of your skipping rope to sit lightly in your hands; if you have to grip too tightly, you’ll be holding your wrists too tight to get the fluid rotations needed to build up your rhythm.
3. Find a rope with a 90-degree connection
- To get the optimal rotation with your skipping rope, look for one with a 90-degree connection. This means that the rope is connected at a 90-degree angle to the handle instead of going straight into it. Meaning that when you skip, the rope is facing vertically rather than horizontally, so you can skip better and faster.
Basic boxing skips
There are loads of different combinations of skips you can do to build up your body conditioning and stamina. From crisscrosses to double unders, as you improve your skipping techniques there’s plenty of advanced moves to progress to.
But, for people just starting out with skipping for boxing, it’s best to begin with simple jumps that help you to build basic skills.
The two-footed skip
This is the most simple skip and the one you almost definitely already know. Holding the rope in either hand, with the rope behind you, swing it up and over your head. Jump a couple of inches in the air as the rope passes under your feet.
The boxer skip
Boxers tend to skip with one foot at a time. This replicates the movements you’ll have to make in the ring. Just the same as the two-footed skip, start with the rope in each hand and sitting behind your feet. But this time, when you jump over the rope you’ll alternate which foot is in the air and which jumps over the rope. This will look like you’re stepping over the rope, but hopefully a lot faster!
This is a slightly more complicated skip that you can throw into your basic boxer or two-footed skips. When the rope is behind you, and you’re drawing it in front of you for your next jump – cross your arms over your body and jump through the crossed loop of the rope.
Beginner’s skipping workout
5 minutes minimum, push yourself by aiming for 10.
- Begin with 2 minutes of gentle, rhythmic 2-footed skipping.
- Increase the intensity by switching to one leg for 10 skips, then the other. Continue this for 1 minute.
- For the final 2 minutes, push yourself to jump the boxer skip as fast as you can while maintaining a rhythm. Throw in crisscrossing skips if you can
- Repeat the set if pushing to 10 minutes.
Want more workout tips? Check out our blog on home workouts, there’s info in there you can use at home or in the gym.