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by Garrett Sylvester, Fitness Coach & Program Coordinator, Axistence Athletics in Southeast Denver
For most people, getting your double-under is frustrating, and not just because you whip yourself with the jump rope a million times in the process. Nailing the double-under is so very satisfying. DUs are an awesome cardio/coordination skill, and you know you're going to see them in this year's CrossFit™ Open. You may as well master your double-unders like a boss right now.
All the DU entails is getting two rotations of the rope in one jump. It is one of those movements that looks easy from the outside, but kind of actually suck at first.
Consecutive double-unders require timing, coordination, rhythm, proper breathing, and lastly, conditioning. With all the attributes needed, athletes often can get one repetition but have difficult time getting multiple repetitions in a single jump.
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Why Double-Unders are Worth It
Double-unders are one of those best-bang-for-your-buck skills. The amount of energy required to perform double unders is twice as much as single unders. According to a Chron blog article, a 150 pound person burns about 150 calories per 20 minutes doing single unders while it is about 300 calories per 20 minutes for the same person. If you are looking for time efficiency, then take the time to master the double-under.
The double-under is also used every year in the Crossfit Open competition to test your composure while fatigued. It is also one of the two movements in Annie, the famous CrossFit girl workout.
Now let's talk about some drills to help you get started on performing double-unders.
Skills & Drills that will Help You Master the Double-Under
Double Under Drill 1: Hollow Body Hold and Position
The first part of the double unders is to learn the body position. You will learn this before you even pick up a jump rope, and the hollow body will help you maintain the form needed for double-unders.
The position for double unders is like that of the anatomical man – stand tall with palms facing forward and a tight belly. Maintaining this position will allow to absorb and redirect the jump efficiently. You will also be less likely to bounce around and stay in place.
Start by lying on the floor and getting into the double under position (palms forward, feet pointed down, tall, tight belly). Once you are in position, press the lower back into the ground. You will feel the abdominals tighten and feel the ribcage pull towards the pelvis. The neck remains neutral and body long. This is the position you want to be in when performing double unders.
Double-Under Drill 2: The Penguin
This drill teaches you how to time the proper higher jump with the spin of the wrists to move the rope quickly. To do the "penguin" drill, you will jump higher and slap the hands on your side quickly (yes, like flippers). Do a few of them one at a time. Once you understand the drill then go onto doing sets of five to ten at time. Do this for three to five sets until it feels natural.
Learning this drill will help teach the body the proper timing of the jump and wrist action without the jump rope. Starting with the rope without a proper understanding of the feel how a double under should be can lead to improper jumps that make it difficult to rebound therefore having continuous double unders.
Double-Under Drill 3: Practice and More Practice
The two drills will help you learn the position and the execution of double unders. Now it is time to put them into practice.
The most important thing to remember is to maintain the body position as you go from single unders to double unders. The timing and rhythm of the rope and breathing will come with practice. If you are having difficulty performing double unders after the drills, I recommend you find a ratio of singles to double unders that works for you.
I like to have athletes start with a 5:1 ratio of single- to double-unders. Once you feel comfortable with that by performing fifteen double unders in that ratio then move it to a 3:1 ratio. From there, start working on stringing them together to get your first multiple repetition set. Remember that it will be worth the time, as you will get more out of your training. It is one of those skills that can be frustrating but once you learn it well it will feel easy.