Skip Your Way to a More Effective Warm-Up

Woman skipping to warm up before exercise.

If you’re tempted to skip your next warm-up—do it! “Skipping puts less impact on your joints than running, improves coordination, and engages your abdominal muscles to help stabilize your body,” says David Reavy, owner of React Physical Therapy in Chicago.

It also puts your limbs through a big range of motion and gets your muscles warm fast—two things necessary for any injury-preventing, dynamic warm-up, says Joe Rojas, personal trainer at Asphalt Green, a nonprofit organization that offers sports and fitness programs in New York City. “The constant jumping up off the ground gets your heart racing because it needs to pump blood to all your limbs,” says Rojas. “You’ll warm up more quickly than you would if you jogged on a treadmill.”

Warm-Up With Skipping

Before you hop off into the sunset, be aware: Not just any skip-to-my-Lou-my-darling moves will work. Do a minute each of the four skips below to prime your body for whatever workout lies ahead.

Exaggerated skipping: Start off with the classic skipping movement (double hopping on your right foot, then the left, pumping with the opposite arm), but dial it up a notch. You’ll want to drive your knees as high as possible and skip as far forward as you can.

Backwards skipping: This is done exactly how it sounds: You do the normal skipping movement but propel your body backwards. You’re going to want to avoid looking over your shoulder, so make sure there’s nothing behind you that will trip you up or get in your way.

Side skipping: Face one direction, get into a slight squat, keep your chest up, and skip laterally without turning your hips towards the direction you’re moving. Be prepared to shuffle between landing on your left and right foot.

Skip rope: Using a jump rope, skip in place going back and forth between landing twice in a row on your right foot and then landing twice in a row on your left foot. Keep elbows close to your side, chest up, shoulders relaxed, and flick the rope with your wrist (don’t make huge arm movements to turn the rope over your head). If you don’t have a rope, you can still do this—just mimic the movement.

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