EYC Podcast #35 – Time vs Repetitions to Structure Your Workout
What’s up guys this is Kas with EYC and welcome to episode #35 of the podcast. Today’s topic is using time vs repetitions to structure your jump rope training. Now, you may ask, is this a topic really worth discussing? Couldn’t I achieve the same things with either one? Well, you likely could, however there are subtleties in each approach that may be more suitable to your goals and preferences. I’d encourage the use of both, however it is very useful to understand where structuring your routine around repetitions as a measure can be more effective than time, and vice versa. I touched on this topic in episode #33 of the podcast however I got to really thinking about it after I completed that episode and wanted to explore it further.
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.
When using time to structure your workout, efficiency becomes very important because any wasted motion will compromise endurance. Because of this, it is best to keep jumps simple so the number of moving parts is minimized, and the likelihood of errors is less. This will allow you to maximize your time jumping, and get the endurance training you are looking for. One of my favourite ways to structure my workouts around time is similar to a boxing match. I will perform 15, 3 minute rounds, with 1 minute of rest between rounds. These figures can be customized to suit your skill level so the options are virtually endless. I keep the types of jumps pretty simple with just bounce step, alternate step, and side swings. I will throw in a few rounds where I perform rotations, crossovers, or double unders, but I don’t emphasize them. As a beginner, time can be an effective tool simply to test your consistency. There are many moving parts to successful jumping, and it can feel overwhelming at first. By eliminating your need to count repetitions, you may find that setting a more manageable timeframe such as 15-30 seconds may be more useful.
A quick note, jump rope is a skill with a reasonably steep learning curve. It is important to consider this if you are a beginner and are looking to incorporate jump rope into your training because it is unlikely that you will be able to get a great workout right away. This is because there are skill aspects like balance, timing, co-ordination, proprioception, and many more, that come into play. This is why I recommend using repetitions if you are a beginner. It is wise to go in knowing this so you not only set realistic goals, but also structure your workouts in a smarter, more manageable way. This is especially true for those beginners whose primary interest is endurance. Consistency is a crucial aspect of this type of training and in order to achieve this, a baseline skill has to be developed. It will take some practice to develop consistency so you’ll have to put in the time, but the rewards are worth it. In essence, the skill aspect of rope is something you have to want, and be willing to dedicate time to developing, at least to the minimum that will allow you to achieve your goals. With that in mind, don’t be too hard on yourself early, and if you absolutely have to have that intense aerobic workout, reserve time for it using the means your are proficient in. Be sure to practice your rope skills before the intense workout because you don’t want fatigue to get in the way of your progress.
So far, I’ve been discussing the use of time or repetitions independently of each other, however they can also be used to great effect in concert. Ideally you already have an understanding of your goals and the concepts I have already discussed, but time and repetitions can be combined to create some unique challenges. For today’s purposes, I want to focus on those around speed. Combining time and repetitions is an effective way of gauging your progress when it comes to overall speed, evident in the fact that it is generally measured in RPS, rotations per second, or RPM, rotations per minute. I briefly discussed this concept in episode #13 of the vlog, but it is very useful to understand your average rotations in either RPS or RPM so you have a baseline for your speed-based training, and you can better gauge improvements. If you remember, I mentioned that my average hovers around 150RPM, and if I am performing sprint based training, I will aim for 200-220RPM. Looking at your training from this point of view will allow those that have a baseline skill level, and some experience jumping, to take their training to the next level because they now have both variables to manipulate. It’s important to note, speed focused training does not always have to get faster. There have been many training sessions where my goal is to slow my RPM as much as possible. This may seem counterintuitive, however it is an excellent way to test your overall control of the rope, mechanics, and introduce variety into your routines. I wouldn’t say I do it as much as sprints, however it can really throw you for a loop in your training, and demonstrate the importance of proper technique. This idea is similar to music in that, musicians, especially those with less practice, can have a harder time playing at a slower rhythm. They’ll have a tendency to want to speed up because this is likely where they have done most, if not all, of their practice, and they have only looked, and not seen, what they are doing. Jumping very slowly forces your training to become highly analytical, which will create tremendous awareness as to how the movements look, and feel. This awareness will then give you feedback, and you can make the necessary improvements.
Some other ways to use time and repetitions are to set an amount of repetitions to try and achieve in a certain amount of time. You can then decrease the amount of time you allow yourself to make it more difficult. A pretty diabolical challenge is setting a fixed amount of rounds, with each round being the same amount of time. Then, set a minimum amount of repetitions you have to hit in each round. It may start off fairly manageable, however as time goes on and fatigue sets in, you may find it gets increasingly difficult to reach your minimum reps without burning out. It’s examples like this that demonstrate the usefulness of finding your average RPM because you can use it to set the goal figures in your challenges. You can have a lot of fun creating the structure for your workouts so be sure to experiment and see what you enjoy doing.
The final concept I want to discuss today is taking note of significant changes in your performance, and at what point they occur during your set. Even though you still may be able to push yourself further, pinpointing these moments can help you improve your game overall. For example, when performing 100 consecutive double unders, I notice that my technique begins to break down at around the 90th to the 92nd repetition. I am able to continue on to 115 or 120, however by taking note of that 92nd rep point, I will have useful data that I can cross-reference in the future to see not only if my overall endurance has improved, but also my endurance while maintaining proper technique. This is an important distinction. Ideally we want to maximize our endurance while maintaining technique because efficiency is drastically reduced once technique is compromised. This causes more and more wasted energy which brings about greater fatigue, until it can no longer be maintained. Noting significant changes in performance can be done regardless of using time or repetitions as a structure, and can bring tremendous value to understanding your capabilities. Another reason this is useful is because it will help us keep the quality of our jumps in mind. I mentioned it previously, however if your only focus is on lasting a certain amount of time, you may not be reaching your full potential due to poor technique and mechanics, even if your aerobic capacity is already strong. Simple improvements in efficiency could be all you need to push yourself to the next level.
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