Double unders: love them or hate them, they will continue to show up on the whiteboard for Crossfitters across the globe week after week. Dave Castro put them in the 2017 CrossFit Open, Regionals AND Games events. The man likes to create opportunities for pain, and double unders certainly qualify. You are essentially spinning a wire whip around your body, *hoping* you don’t miss. We’ve all gone home from the gym with the tell-tail signs of a fight with the jump rope. Loved ones asking, “why do you have whip marks all over your legs and arms?” Or, once they know better, a comforting pat on the shoulder, “Double under day again?”
Most gyms offer sympathetic scaling options. 3 single unders for every prescribed double under. Plate hops. Tuck Jumps. Parallette Hops. Okay, those last two aren’t exactly sympathetic; but you’ll do anything besides double unders, right?!
All jokes aside, we train double unders for a reason. I’m here to tell you that it’s worth progressing from single unders to double unders from a training standpoint. Let’s start with the incredible benefits of jump rope training in general.
Aerobic Exercise - Boxers and Martial Arts athletes have long used jump roping as an effective cardio exercise. Jumping rope is also superior to jogging or running in several ways. When done with proper form, jumping rope is safer on the joints and causes less impact than running. It also works the shoulders, arms and core as you work to spin that rope.
Fat Burn – Jumping rope can be a vigorous form of cardio, without even stepping on the treadmill. 10 minutes of jumping rope can roughly be considered the equivalent to running an 8-minute mile. This intense form of exercise burns about 1300 calories per hour.
Exercise your Brain – Jumping rope is not only working your heart, lungs and muscles, it’s also giving your brain a workout! It is one of the best ways to train coordination and accuracy, two of the 10 elements of fitness. Lose focus for a few seconds, and you might find yourself tangled up in your rope!
It’s Fun – Jumping rope is something many of us remember from childhood. Perhaps you jumped rope with friends around your neighborhood, or maybe it was a fun activity in PhyEd at school. As an adult, it is fun to challenge yourself to practice a new skill that doesn’t have any prerequisite knowledge or strength. You just get to practice and try it out for yourself!
After learning about all these awesome benefits you gain from jumping rope, think about it from a training standpoint. Once you master a skill (such as jumping pull ups) or weight in the gym (such as back squatting 55lbs), your body has adapted to that training stimulus. In order to continue seeing more results/changes in your performance and body (aka: get stronger/faster/leaner) you must change or increase the training stimulus. You add weight to your squats. You do more reps faster. You start working on kipping pull ups.
It’s the same with jumping rope. Once you have mastered single unders and feel like you could do them all day, it’s time to rip off the bandaid and commit to the double unders. I have a few tips to help you along the way.
-Commit to practicing for 3-5 minutes each time you are at the gym. Set a timer before or after class and just jump! Learning a new skill is a process, and it takes time. Practicing is the #1 thing you can do.
-Start small. Small sets, that is! It’s better to practice what you CAN do, instead of shooting for what you haven’t yet done. Maybe that means a set of single-double-single-double-single. Do that over and over and over again, until you can easily add one more double under to the set.
-Practice being relaxed as you jump. While holding good posture, relax your mind, neck, shoulders, arms and hands.
-Slow, smooth and steady jumps are much better than jumping fast. If you jump too fast, there isn’t enough time for the rope to pass under your feet twice.
-Avoid tuck jumping. It wastes energy, makes you really tired, and it’s hard to be accurate when you tuck jump.