Back to basics. Happy Memorial day!

Back training is very important for the following reasons:

1. It adds to side-view thickness.
2. It enhances the all-important V-taper.
3. It creates muscle balance with chest musculature.
4. It gives the body a symmetrical appearance
5. It prevents shoulder impingement issues by playing an integral role in preventing forward shoulder.

The keys to developing an awesome back are shrugs, rows, and pull-ups. Good trap development comes from heavy barbell shrugs and the indirect effect of overhead shoulder presses and upright rows. However, to directly stimulate the traps for mass and to develop shoulder thickness, one needs to shrug heavy at times and at other times, shrug for the "feel."

I like to do traps with back training. For my back day, I train my mid-back mainly and the two key priorities in my back days are lat width and upper-mid back definition. Find what works best for you, however don't over-complicate things, keep it simple.


The positive effects on strength, size and even fat loss.....Branched-chain amino acids.

Before creatine, arginine and whey protein ranked supreme as popular bodybuilding supplements, the branched-chain amino acids were the hot ticket for bodybuilders. Today, BCAAs are back on the must-have list of supplements because bodybuilders have found that they work well to enhance muscle growth, strength, energy and even fat loss. If you're not using them, here's your guide to why you should.

THE THREE AMINOS The BCAAs comprise three essential amino acids--leucine, isoleucine and valine. The name "branched-chain amino acids" is derived from the structure of these aminos--each has a forked outcropping that looks a bit like a branch. How essential are these three aminos? Well, although there are about 20 amino acids that the muscles use for muscle growth, the three BCAAs make up one-third of the total amino acids in the body's muscles.

What's really special about these three aminos is how the body handles them. When you ingest amino acids (as individual aminos or as protein), they first travel to the liver, which immediately breaks them down and uses them for fuel if the body needs them for energy rather than for rebuilding muscle and other tissues. Yet, the liver tends to spare BCAAs, sending them directly to the muscles to be used for building muscle or for fuel.

The muscles can use BCAAs, unlike other aminos, directly for fuel. This gives BCAAs two unique properties. First, during workouts, muscles readily use BCAAs for fuel. Second, during rest, such as after workouts, BCAAs are used for building muscle. These are two important considerations when it comes to the timing of supplementation: they make pre-and postworkout the critical time periods for taking BCAAs. ENERGY BOOST BCAAs are readily used for fuel by the muscles during workouts; thus, intense and longer workouts will rob more BCAAs from your muscles. To counteract this, take a BCAA supplement right before you train--because supplemental BCAAs are readily available to the muscle as a direct source of energy, your energy levels will be higher during the workout than if you had not done so.

Foreman vs Cotto 6-5-10

Yuri Foreman,

WBA Super Welterweight champion, spars during his workout at Gleason's Gym in New York, Tuesday, May 25, 2010. Foreman, from Brooklyn, N.Y., is the first orthodox Jew to win a world championship in 75 years. He will defend the title against former three time world champion Miguel Cotto June 5, at Yankee Stadium.

Food for thought!

Guest model: Rachel Aust

As you proceed along the fitness lifestyle, it is inevitable that at some point you will desire to display your physique in the best way possible. Whether your goal is to compete, look better at the beach, special occasion, be more attractive to the opposite sex or to simply take pride in your hard work and accomplishments. Nutritional manipulation through dieting as well as dedication to a rational plan–remains the best route to revealing the fruits of your labor.

The Role Of Protein

Of the three sources of energy (carbohydrates, protein and dietary fat), protein has the least impact on fat storage. Overeating calories from carbs and dietary fat will lead to their accumulation as bodyfat. That’s not to say you can, or should, gorge on protein. It means you should add more protein from chicken, turkey or fish instead of snacking on additional carbs or fat to satiate hunger.

Ratios Are Important

Calories count, and so does the source of the calories. Check out this study. Two groups of women followed a 1,600-calorie daily diet that included 50 g of fat. The difference was that one group went with higher protein and fewer carbs, while the other followed a higher-carb, lower-protein menu. After 10 weeks, both segments lost a similar amount of weight, but a closer look reveals that the higher-protein group had higher thyroid levels and metabolic rates, lost 18% more fat and retained 27% more muscle. The takeaway message: the type of calories affects fat loss. When in doubt, the way to go is more protein and fewer carbs.

Frequent Meals

If you are eating fewer weekly calories than your body is accustomed to, nothing beats eating at least five times a day. Small meals impact fat loss by preventing the metabolism from slowing. They also keep energy levels more stable and ward off feelings of hunger.

Glutamine Boosts Recovery & Conserves BCAA’s

Glutamine spares the burning of branched-chain amino acids, which are used in greater amounts when calories decline. Glutamine has also been found to increase metabolic rate and fat burning. Try 5 g of BCAAs before training and another 5 g after training, as well as with breakfast and before bed.


Rich Fit / Tip of The Day. Less cardio, please.

Despite what the masses tell you, limit your cardio! Yes that's right ease up a bit on all the steady state cardio. Science tells us after about 20 minutes your body has used up all stored carbs for energy. what happens next is the body then begins to tap into fat stores and your most important fat burning tool, muscle!!!

Muscle is what shapes our bodies and keeps our metabolism moving efficiently if you are constantly using it to fuel your cardio habit you simplyare never going to achieve the body you desire!!! lean muscle tissue and keep it by limiting your cardio to short intense 20 minute bursts.


Triceps, Please no pressdowns!!!!

Pressdowns are the most popular triceps movement. They’re great because they put you in a position that makes it easy to scope out that lingerie model doing cable crossovers. Unfortunately, that’s about all pressdowns are good for. Have you looked at the triceps of powerlifters and strongmen competitors recently? They’re plenty massive, but very few of them will waste their time on pressdowns. Now look at your average gymnasts: most have massive triceps that were built largely by doing dips and pressing motions. Ditch the pressdowns and use these instead:

* Parallel dips
* Close-grip bench presses
* Decline close-grip bench presses
* Seated EZ-bar French presses
* Decline dumbbell triceps extensions

Rich Fit / Torch fat!!!

High Intensity Group Cardio

Unless you have a tremendous metabolic rate, you’ll need cardio work to augment your progress. I recommend only high intensity group cardio to create the greatest calorie burn possible and to stimulate glycogen-storing enzymes.

The harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn plus, you’ll increase the activity of glycogen synthase, the enzyme that stores carbohydrates as muscle glycogen. The more you can coax the body to store carbohydrates in muscle, the less likely it will store them as bodyfat.

Build up from your current level to performing cardio at least five days a week for 30-45 minutes. If you have a sluggish metabolic rate, you may need to do even more.

Are you guilty of performing cardio before weight training ?

Some silly folks like to shamelessly exploit a fundamental training mantra that you should always train for priorities. If losing bodyfat is your primary goal, for example, then cardio should be your primary focus in the gym, right? This is one case where your priorities are just backward, no matter what those late night infomercials and P 90X may tell you. While cardio by itself is certainly productive, doing cardio after your weight-training session is almost twice as productive at burning fat.


Researchers recently determined that doing a weight workout before cardio resulted in significantly more fat-burning than doing cardio alone. In the study, a cardio-only group burned just more than 20% of their total calories from fat, while another group who did cardio after weights burned nearly 50% of their total calories from fat. One reason for this amazing disparity is that the body plows through stored glycogen during your weight routine, making fat the primary fuel source once it’s time for your cardio.

Best Tip

Perform cardio when it’ll be most productive for you after you hit the weights. Try mixing in 3-4, 20-30- minute, postlifting cardio sessions per week.


Drink Atleast A Gallon Of Water Every Day

Water is essential for overall health as well as for muscle growth. Keeping your body well hydrated benefits everything from protein synthesis to digestion. Steady water intake keeps nutrients moving in your bloodstream and into muscle cells. Water is also a critical source of many minerals. But don’t drink that gallon-plus in one sitting–gulp it during the course of the day. This is especially important for bodybuilders on high-protein diets, as well as those using creatine, fat burners or other supplements that affect hydration. Remember, water keeps your muscles full. It can also help you stay lean, as research has shown that simply drinking two cups of water between meals boosts metabolic rate. Water is the essence of life, and its importance to bodybuilders can’t be overstressed. Drink a pint of water with main meals and try to exceed the daily one-gallon recommendation.

Richard Seymour's Fit School/ Arms

Your biceps bend your arms, and you work them with curls. You probably figured this out as a kid when Dad told you to "make a muscle" for one of those photos parents use as blackmail for when their sons start dating. Chances are you did a curl the first time you ever picked up a dumbbell, and you've been doing them ever since. Now ask yourself: When's the last time I increased the weight I use on my arm exercises?

Physiology 201: If you want your arms to grow, you need to create overload and challenge them with progressively heavier weights. They'll adapt by growing bigger and stronger. Since they aren't receiving that overload from curls, you need to recruit bigger muscles to help them grow in tandem.

Start with the chinup. This move forces you to lift your entire body—several times the amount of weight you could curl—on each repetition. Your lats, which are the fan-shaped middle-back muscles that run from your armpits to your spine, do a good deal of the work. But your biceps are more than just bystanders. They're working as hard as they can. Without their help, you couldn't do a single rep.

Target your triceps the same way. Do body-weight dips or close-grip bench presses with a loaded barbell. You'll be able to lift multiples of the weight you use for extensions.

Make these heavy, multimuscle exercises the focus of your upper-body training. After you've performed them, add curls and extensions to give your arms some extra oomph.

Rich Fit: bodyfat-fighting strategies

1) Add Intervals To Your Cardio Work

The Caloric Effect: 150 calories

“Interval training burns more calories than steady-state training because you can do more work in the same amount of time,” says Tom Seabourne, who has a PhD in exercise science and is author of Athletic Abs with Scott Cole (Human Kinetics, 2002). To use this calorie-burning technique, Seabourne suggests that you include sprints with your jogging, add jogging to your fast-paced walking or increase the difficulty level or pace when using cardio equipment. “Add 60 seconds of interval training every other minute or so. The harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn,” Seabourne advises.

Comment: Not only do you burn more calories during these intense interval cycles, but they also rev up your calorie-burning during the hours following your training.

2) Increase Your Weights By 5%-10%

The Caloric Effect: 500-600 calories

“This technique shakes up your workout,” says Steve Zim, fitness expert for NBC’s Weekend Today. “A lot of people get stuck using the same weights and reps over and over. Their bodies acclimate to the workload, and they don’t burn as many calories as they would if they provided their body with unexpected stimulation.” Increasing your training weights 5%-10% is a great way to do this.

Comment: Research shows that heavy training (in the 6-8-rep range) increases metabolic rate over the subsequent two days, helping you burn up to 600 calories more than after lightweight training (12-15-rep range). In addition, by raising your weight just 5%, you may find yourself more inspired, encouraging you to work harder and burn even more calories.

3) Mix Up Your Cardio

The Caloric Effect: 50-100 calories

Got a favorite cardio machine in the gym? Ditch it. You may be surprised by how much more beneficial cross-training is vs. performing the same exercise during every cardio session. “When you include a variety of cardio machines in your routines treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, cross-country ski machine, stair-stepper you stimulate the same muscles in new ways or even work different muscle groups. The more groups you use that are unaccustomed to training, the harder you must work at an exercise, thus you burn more calories,” says Seabourne.

Comment: Use your heart rate as a guide to ensure that you achieve the same level of intensity on different pieces of equipment. Some machines feel more difficult than others, even if they’re set at a level below where you should be training.

4) Avoid Consecutive Days Of Rest

The Caloric Effect: 250-500 calories

“Try to avoid taking more than one rest day at a time,” Zim says. “You need a rest day after every 3-4 days of training in a row, but subsequent rest days can begin to lower your metabolic rate.”

Comment: For the best effect on both metabolism and muscle recovery, strive to train three days on, one day off. To keep up your metabolic rate, take off a second or third day only when you feel overtrained or under the weather. Even though you don’t feel like hitting the gym on those days, try doing some kind of aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes.

5) Split Your Workout Into Two

The Caloric Effect: 100-300 calories

“Instead of doing an hour-and-a-half workout in the morning, try doing 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes after work,” says Zim. This revs up your metabolic rate twice a day instead of once. During the last half of a long training session, you may work out with less intensity because of fatigue; by splitting your training, you recover enough to burn more calories in your second 45-minute installment.

Comment: Calorie-burning can vary based on your intensity. The effects of two metabolism-boosting sessions will stay with you all day.

Countering aging effects: Parts 2 & 3

Continued: (Part 2 )(by FABRIZIO RINALDI - 48)

We saw an overview of the physiological deterioration due to aging, which are somewhat similar to the effects of remaining confined to bed, and therefore that the only way to contain these negative effects should be through regular physical activity. Now we will try to explore which might be the foundations of effective protocols to fight the aging process.

The principles and the rationale should be exactly the same for any kind of fitness protocol, regardless the age. I am not particularly favorable to the “just walking” programme, which are definitely better than being a couch potato, but are not particularly effective in fighting the negative effects of getting older.
When getting 40, which is when the physical decline becomes more evident, after three years of virtually no training, I decided to restart with a schedule combining aerobic activity and strength training, and the effects where rather impressive. In just 4 months I managed to lose 8 kg of fat, reducing blood pressure and lowering rest heart rate, and building muscle mass. At 47 I decided to start practicing triathlon. What is really intriguing about triathlon is that is correctly considered as the epitome of endurance sports but, contrary to common belief, an effective training for all kinds of triathlons should involve significant strength training, and even the aerobic sessions are not just based on long low intensity programs, which is what most people would expect from an endurance sport.
Strength training, together with aerobic activity, in its various forms and methods, is the foundation of most sports, and it is interesting to notice that many principles of my triathlon training are common to Richard’s prescriptions for boxing, which is a completely different kind of sport, with high involvement of explosive movements and with short bouts of energy. This clearly demonstrates that the ingredients of the recipe for an effective training are very much similar; only doses will change, given the evident difference of the expected performance in the two sports.
Let’s consider just running out of triathlon, for sake of simplicity. When preparing long distance competitions (21k or even above), I devote only three workouts a week to running, and just one is structured on long distances. The other two workouts are quality training; one is based on repeats, short distances (from 400 mt to 1600 mt) repeated several times with little recovery time in between, at rather high speed; a typical high intensity interval training. The second workout is based on medium distances (usually 5 to 10 km) but at a constant relatively high speed, which implies pretty high heart rate. Only the third run workout is based on a long distance/slow pace training. The three workouts elicit different metabolic pathways and enhance different physiological qualities. The first workout improves the VO2 max, which is like increasing the size of our performance engine; the second workout enhances the lactate threshold, which could be defined as the actual percentage of that engine power which can be used continuously, whilst the third raises endurance and fat metabolism. This kind of structure, which is similarly applied to swimming and bike, is a clear demonstration of the point I am trying to make.


Intensity and change of pace, together with variety, are essential components even when training for pure endurance sports.
But that is not the whole story; in a week I also try to have two sessions of strength training, whose principles are based on the Functional Cross Fitness approach, with almost nothing in common with bodybuilding. The main essential point of this approach is to treat the body as a unit, instead of a collection of body parts, which leads to increased efficiency and high level of fitness, in other words, the best way to counteract negative effects of getting older.
Cross fitness involves also a continuous change of training parameters; sometimes the workout can take just 5-7 minutes (but at very high intensity), and sometimes up to 25 minutes. In general there is little or no recovery time, and the combination of exercises is regularly modified.
Functionality is the other foundation of cross fitness, which implies development of the ability of the body to manage the unexpected; it means not to get specialized, since in many sport, and often in life, the fitness with broad, general and comprehensive physical abilities tend to give a significant advantage. Therefore there is a mix up of training of different sports, without forgetting the specificity of your sport and of the kind of expected performance. Functionality means also training through movements that find actual application in everyday’s life and in sports. For example there is no functional application of the leg extension, the biceps curl, the side raise or the seated hip abductors machine, and I have no idea of a sport where these movements are applied. As a consequence, machines are generally avoided, unless there is a very specific need.
Another related feature of this programming is integration; the programme should include a variety of exercises that work on various dimensions of fitness : flexibility, core, balance, endurance, stamina, strength and power.
For people who are careful readers of the Abfitt blog, these points should sound rather familiar. Personally I found several similarities with Richard’s H.I.G.T. structure, and this should not surprise, since martial arts are one of the typical class of sports where functionality is the main feature.
If you really want to be an athlete, even when getting older, then you have to improve ability in all physical tasks, training with the purpose of performing successfully at multiple, diverse, and unexpected physical challenges. The methodology is rather empirical, and measurement of performance is critical to verify in general the effectiveness of the training activity and, more specifically, the adaptations elicited by this programming.

Just in a simple sentence : TRAIN THE FUNCTION

Personally I believe that the best way of fighting aging, and consequentially to look younger, is to pursue the athletic performance, not the appearance; that would only be a pleasant consequential effect.

Now we can try to list a series of guidelines which I consider essential, although not exhaustive, for countering aging effects:

1. Engage in consistent and regular training. You might consider less frequent training, getting older, but must maintain an appropriate level of intensity.
2. Aerobics training must play a central role, but even to maintain a good level of aerobic capacity, do not limit aerobics to the slow pace/long time activity. Interval training must be an integral part of your programme. Medium distance and high intensity aerobics are another dimension of quality training not to be neglected. In other words, alternate biking, running, swimming and rowing at short, middle, and long distances, in order to develop ability in all different metabolic processes.
3. Don’t limit the activity to aerobics only, because it cannot compensate for muscular loss. Use strength-based exercises two- three times a week, where you challenge the muscles and joints and load the bones. Forget about insulation movements, and involve as many muscles as possible in any given exercise. Pull Ups, squats, push ups (in all varieties), dips, deadlifts, kettlebells exercises (swings, Turkish get up, snatches, clean and press), skip rope, plyometric jumps should be integral part of any strength training. Perform all exercises with full range of motion, maintaining high intensity and little to no rest. Use free weights.
4. Observe intensity, but wisely, checking regularly the reactions of your body through blood analysis, blood pressure monitoring, electrocardiograms and echo cardiograms, once the 40 mark is passed. Intensity for older athletes should not mean pushing to the limit; workouts must be adapted to personal capacity and scaling is not shameful, since a deterioration of physical performances is inevitable with ageing. In general terms intensity is not an absolute concept, but a parameter which requires to be adapted to personal capacity.
5. Insert some instability exercises; stabilizer muscles favour the athletic performance and reduce injury risks.
6. Variety is fundamental to any training programme. Only regular changes make training really effective and reduce the risk of injury, not to mention they will ward off boredom.
7. Mix up different sports.
8. Maintain an adequate number of stretching sessions.
9. Whenever you are preparing a schedule for your training, ask yourself if you are training the function, and measure the performance, not the size and look of your muscles. Measuring the performance should help understanding whether you are going in the right direction, without becoming obsessed by numbers.
10. Drink substantial quantities of plain water. You need around a liter for every 25 kg of body weight in order to maintain a decent hydration level. When training, this volume must be substantially increased. As a rule of thumb, when training hard don’t drink less than 4 liters of water a day.
11. Follow good and rational dietary habits. I started to follow the zone 18 months ago, but the diet recommendations you find in this blog are sensible, and are consistent with my previous diet.
12. Eat often. It helps in keeping a high metabolism.
13. Find situations for relaxing., Find the right balance between activity and constructive relaxation. Don’t forget that recovery is as important as training.
14. Listen to your body; it well tell you if your training and diet are appropriate.

Construct a fitter you! 10 tips.

10 Nutritional Tips To Construct A Bigger You

Adding quality mass is the main goal for most bodybuilders. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done, especially if you’ve been at it for a while. But help is on the way. Our nutritional guide will help you pack on the right kind of size. Even if you think you know everything, you’ll no doubt find suggestions to help bust through your next weight plateau. As sports-nutrition science has accelerated athletes’ knowledge over the decades, guidelines continue to change. However, past wisdom can coexist with new, cutting-edge info. By taking the following principles into account, you could be well on your way to the massive size gains desired by all serious bodybuilders.

#1 Protein Leads The Pack

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is more important than protein. It lays the foundation for growth by supplying the amino acids the body uses to repair and build muscle. Shoot for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Go up to 1.5 g if recovery or adding size is a never-ending struggle.
#2 Take Carbs To Tango

To maximize growth, you need carbs. Carbohydrates digest into glucose, which can then be used as immediate fuel. Surplus glucose is used as muscle glycogen, the stored component of energy that influences stamina and recovery. Equally valuable, carbs boost insulin levels, which is important because insulin is a driving hormone that shuttles amino acids into muscle tissue to enhance muscular growth.
#3 Fat Is Not A Four-Letter Word

Fat has received a bad rap, and unfairly at that. To the bodybuilder seeking greater size, fat is a ready ally. For starters, fat spares the burning of both glucose and amino acids, thereby giving the body access to “more” amino acids and glucose to build muscle. Fats are also hormonal primers. Skimping can compromise testosterone levels, resulting in mediocre, run-of-the-mill mass gains.
#4 Eat More Frequently

Space your whole-food meals and protein shakes into two-to three-hour intervals so that you’re eating at least six times per day. This supplies a nonstop delivery of nutrients to saturate the body and support hormones that encourage muscle repair and growth. Why not gorge on a couple of big meals instead? Larger, less-frequent meals promote bloating, poor absorption and fat storage. Exactly what you don’t want.
#5 Pretraining Meals Are Key

Nobody wants to eat a huge meal and then hit the iron, but a good-sized preworkout meal helps elevate insulin secretion, counteracting the tissue damage that comes with hardcore training. An increase in insulin, coupled with the presence of plenty of amino acids, will negate the “tear down” mechanism typically exerted during training.
#6 Shake It Up During Training

A large pretraining meal may cause too much abdominal discomfort for some, so an effective alternative is a shake comprised of 20 g of whey and 20-40 g of fast-acting carbs, such as Vitargo or even simple table sugar. Consumed during training, it can fight muscle breakdown and create an anticatabolic effect in which glucose (carbs) and amino acids are used during the workout.
#7 Replenish PostWorkout

Within 30 minutes of training, nothing beats a shake comprised of 40-60 g of easy-to-digest whey protein paired with a carbohydrate drink or other fast digesting carbs, such as Cream of Rice or white bread, providing 40-100 g of carbs. After a workout, muscles are in a “pulling state,” meaning they can pull in nutrients and make use of protein and carbs to kick-start the growth process. This quick remedy also shuts down Cortisol, the muscle-wasting hormone that increases with training.

#8 Say Yes To No

Short for nitric oxide, NO primarily comes from the inclusion of arginine-based products consumed before training. Arginine is the amino acid that not only supports growth hormone, but also facilitates NO release. Nitric oxide acts in an expansionary manner; it facilitates blood flow to the muscles, supporting the valued “pump,” a major factor in muscle recruitment and growth.
#9 Activate GH

Growth hormone helps burn bodyfat, build muscle mass and increase insulinlike growth factor-1, a hormone that instigates the muscle-building processes. The body naturally boosts GH release during training and sleep, but taking 7-10 g of arginine before bed can magnify sleep-induced GH release. The trick: avoid carbs before bedtime, as excess glucose can potentially blunt GH output.
#10 Add Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Of the great variety of supplements on the market, few have a track record as impressive as branched-chain amino acids. Five to 10 g taken both before and after training will help block muscle breakdown, increase protein synthesis and suppress hormones that might otherwise interfere with recovery. There’s even evidence that BCAAs may keep testosterone levels from falling.

Shed fat, get fit and build your best body ever!

Jumping rope isn't that tough, which is why kids love it so much. Boxers use it routinely to build cardiovascular endurance and stamina needed to make it to the last round. It also helps improve footwork, coordination, and balance. Muhammad Ali said that he loved skipping rope as part of his training. It helped perfect what he called his "prancing and dancing" in the ring.

It's best to start out slow and steady, so you don't get tripped up—especially if you haven't jumped rope since your elementary school days. However, since our workout calls for quite a bit of jumping rope, building to 12-minute sessions, you'll need to mix it by learning some footwork and arm moves. Before trying any tricks, keep these guidelines in mind:

* Keep it simple, relax, and find your rhythm.
* Jump with both feet and land on the balls of your feet.
* Lift your feet off the floor just high enough for the rope to pass quickly. Avoid jumping too high or landing too hard.
* Wear sneakers with plenty of padding to absorb the shock of your body weight. (Lightweight cross-trainers or running shoes are best.) Always wear socks to prevent blisters.
* Bend your knees slightly, rather than locking them. This will help absorb the force of your body weight.
* Keep your shoulders relaxed and your hands at your sides and turn with your wrists—not with your arms.
* Be patient. Start out slowly, and then increase your speed once you become more comfortable.

The right rope

There are many different kinds of jump ropes. When choosing the right one for you, make sure the length is correct. Hold the rope and stand with your feet on the middle. If the length is just right, the handles should just reach your armpits. The handles should be thick and comfortable.

Once you've gotten the hang of jumping, try running in place while turning the rope for variety and an additional challenge. Turn the rope and step over it with one foot. On the next turn, step over the rope with the other foot. You should feel like you're jogging in place while jumping rope.

Coach's corner

Jumping rope improves footwork and balance. Skipping from foot to foot involved in jumping rope is great practice for shifting your weight into your punches.

"I used to hate jumping rope and not be able to do it. But after three months of getting laughed at, I now can jump for 20 minutes at a time!” —Alexis, age 23

How fast to go

It's important to gauge how hard your body is working, based on how you feel, not how you think you're supposed to feel. (For some people, walking up one flight of stairs is all it takes to get short of breath. For others, it'll take running up 10 flights to get that same response.)

That's why, when it comes to your rope skipping, we're not going to tell you how fast to turn the rope or how many jumps to squeeze in per minute. Instead, pace yourself based on your perceived level of exertion, using this one-to-10 scale:

1-2: Just barely moving

You're moving, but you're certainly not putting yourself out at all. Think window shopping or strolling through the park.

3-4: Easy

This is your brisk, warm-up pace. Your blood is pumping, and your muscles warm, but you're still breathing at or close to normal.

5-6: Moderate

Now, you're starting to work hard. You should feel your heart pounding and sweat forming on your forehead. You should also be breathing faster than normal, but not so hard that you can't hold a conversation without gasping for air between sentences.

7-8: Intense

You can feel your heart beating. You're breathing so heavily that you can't talk without pausing for air between phrases. In the ring, this is how you'll feel when you're going all out during the last 30 seconds of the last round.

9-10: All out

You are performing at your body's maximum capacity, which you can only sustain for a very, very short period of time. (If ever you're working this hard, there is probably a hungry bear running toward you.)

You should start out jumping at an easy pace, then move to a moderate level followed by an intense level. Because it's difficult to go "all out" for very long, that level is too intense. And if you're barely moving, you'll need to push harder to reap full benefit.

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