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Jump Rope Workout

If you haven't picked up a jump rope since middle school, you're missing out on a great fitness tool. It's one of the fastest and most effective ways to tone your body while improving your cardiovascular health at the same time. You'll burn around 12 cals a minute and sculpt your arms and shoulders along with your legs.

"There's not as much impact as with, say, running, because you come only an inch or two off the ground and you primarily land on the balls of your feet," says Felicia Stoler, an exercise physiologist and dietitian. "All it takes is a little practice to do it well." Side perk: You'll feel awesome in a Rockyesque way!

3 Jump Rope Moves for a Better Body

You could just pick up a rope and start hopping. But if you need a beginner or more advanced version…

Do It Workout a Rope: You can imitate a jump rope workout for a few days to get a feel for rotating the wrists, timing hops, and landing on the balls of your feet. Just keep your feet together and take short hops over an imaginary rope.

Switch Your Feet: Try alternating your feet so your movement resembles jogging in place. Each time the rope goes up and over, you'll land with one foot. Keep moving your legs like this, as if you were running.

High Knee Jumps: For an extra challenge, raise your right knee up as you jump (think about bringing your knee toward your nose), then repeat with the left side. Continue to alternate legs.

Helpful Tips

1. Don't go barefoot; wear sneakers for cushioning.

2. Keep elbows by your sides. The twirling action is in the wrists.

3. To find the right length, place a foot in the middle of your rope and pull tight. Handles should hit just below shoulders.

Your 15-Minute Fat Burn

Combine jump rope intervals (do any kind of jumping you like, or choose from the options above) with strength moves in the routine below designed by Los Angeles fitness pro Holly Perkins, author of Lift to Get Lean. You'll lose fat and tone up everywhere in record time.

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1 Jump rope for 30 seconds, then do a Bird Dog:

Begin on all fours and tighten your abs (like you're preparing to be punched in the stomach). Lift your left arm straight in front of your body while raising your right leg behind you. Release your arm and leg back to the starting position. Switch sides (lift right arm/left leg). Continue alternating for 15 reps on each side.

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2 Jump rope for 30 seconds, then do a Plank with Side Step:

Start in a plank, with elbows under shoulders and body in a straight line from the back of your head to your feet. Next, reach your right leg out to the right, gently tapping your toes on the ground. Bring your foot back into a plank. Repeat on the left side. Do 10 reps (5 on each side).

Challenge! Increase your jump rope time as you get stronger. Aim for a minute.

Too hard? It's fine to skip the side step and just hold a plank for 30 seconds.

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3 Jump rope for 30 seconds, then do a Plié Sweep:

A: Stand with feet wide apart, toes pointed out, hands on hips. Keep your abs pulled in and bend knees so thighs are almost parallel to the floor (when you're just starting out, it's OK if you can't go so low). Hold for 3 counts.

B: As you stand up, sweep right leg across body without letting foot touch the floor. Return to start and repeat the whole move, this time swinging your left leg across your body. Continue alternating for 15 reps on each side.

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4 Jump rope for 30 seconds, then do a Lying Overhead Pull:

A: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold a light weight or a water bottle with both hands. Your arms should be extended up, perpendicular to the floor.

B: Bring your arms over your head until they're next to your ears; go only as far as you can without arching your back. Hold for 2 seconds, then return to starting position. Do 12 reps.

This story originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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