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Both can measure and track progress, and you can always add more repetitions or increase the amount of time per round of jumping in order to progress. It’s important to note however, you aren’t necessarily automatically increasing one by increasing another, and this is one example of the subtleties that I mentioned earlier. Using repetitions as a gauge is especially effective when practicing new techniques, those that are complex, or both, because it is conducive to performing each rep as best as possible without the pressure of having to perform for a certain amount of time. Even completing a small amount of reps will build confidence, which is especially important in the early stages of training. Furthermore, it helps preserve technique by allowing for rest between sets, and mitigating the effects of fatigue. This is important because all of these factors come together very well when conditioning is not the main goal, and development of mechanics, muscle memory, and proprioception is. It’s that slight shift in mindset that I’ve found is an important distinction between using time or repetitions. In my own training, I found that when I was using time as a structure, it naturally became the primary focus and I wasn’t as concerned about how I was performing in that timeframe as long as I kept going. It’s important to understand that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is all about the goal of your training. There are definitely benefits to pushing yourself, even if it means a slight dip in the quality of the repetition. However, if you are looking to optimize development of mechanics, proprioception and technique, or simply wrap your head around a new trick, structuring around repetitions is a useful tool. This is especially true for beginners because developing technique and getting a feel for the rope and jumping should be the primary objective. This is why I recommend training in sets with a low repetition count, 10-30 as an example. This will help keep the physical requirements in check, while allowing you to appreciate and develop the skill aspects of rope. Improvements in conditioning will follow so I don’t recommend being too concerned with it in the beginning.
What if during today’s session you don’t really want to work on certain mechanics or a trick, and you want a strong aerobic workout? This is where structuring your workout around time can be a major benefit. Referring back to that shift in mindset I discussed earlier, structuring around time is a great way to emphasize endurance because it drives our focus toward performing for that amount of time without stopping. The more we do this, the better our endurance will get. Time is also really practical during your training because you can setup a timer, and proceed. It isn’t something you have to think about tracking during your set, as opposed to having to count out repetitions. From my own experience, counting can become quite tedious, particularly when getting to very large numbers.