How To Learn Double Unders
Double unders are a style of jumping rope where the rope makes two rotations between every jump. They are a staple in many CrossFit and HIIT workouts, and are often cursed as being one of the most frustrating skills to learn. I genuinely think that if you are struggling with double unders it is because you are overthinking them or focusing your practice in the wrong places. Let’s get this out of the way right now, double unders are NOT just spinning a rope twice as fast as regular jumping rope. Double unders don’t require much in the way of strength at all, instead it is all about rhythm. Learning double unders is like learning an instrument, you wouldn’t just pick up a trumpet and assume you should be able to play it immediately, right? It just requires practice. If you put in the work, you will learn them. Let’s break down Protest Fitness’ method of learning double unders.
Many CrossFit movements are very challenging and require underlying athletic abilities or strength benchmarks before learning them. For instance, you would need to be able to hold a handstand in order to learn to do handstand push ups. Luckily, the athletic prerequisites for double unders are very minimal – all you need to be able to do is jump. Preferably you should be able to repeatedly jump 4-6 inches off the ground to start, but many people have learned double unders jumping even lower than that (you just need to spin the rope faster!). It sound simple, but the difficulty in double unders has very little to do with strength or athletic ability and much more to do with coordination and timing.
You’ll also need to be able to whip a rope in a circle quickly with both hands. This sounds silly, but even higher level athletes might find that one of their hands is a “lame duck” that could use some improvement by doing this drill:
Hold a short string or rope in just one hand and whip it in a circle using primarily wrist and no upper arm. Easy with your dominant hand, right? Test it out with your non-dominant hand. If you are able to whip the rope in a circle easily with both hands, you’re good to go.
When starting to learn double unders we will want the rope a little longer than normal which will create a larger margin of error. For beginners, when standing on the rope with both feet, the handles should go to at least your armpits.
Many sites will promote thicker ropes for individuals looking to learn double unders. I don’t think that’s necessary at all, get a regular speed rope and don’t buy a massive, heavy rope that requires a ton of effort to swing around.
There are a ton of good ropes out there, but the one I’m most comfortable with is the RPM Speed Rope.
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There’s only 1 drill you need for practicing double unders. And SURPRISE, you don’t even need a jump rope for it. Here’s what you’re going to do:
- Find an online metronome and set it to 100 BEATS PER MINUTE (BPM).
- Every time that metronome clicks, jump off the ground. Try to match up the sound of you hitting the ground with the sound of the metronome.
- Once you can do that, keep jumping at that pace and use your hands to slap your sides twice every time you are in midair.
- If you want to get REALLY fancy, put your metronome to 300 BPM, then match your jump and two side slaps with the clicks. The click “click-click-click-click-click-click…” will be “jump-slap-slap-jump-slap-slap…”
- Now act like you are holding your rope (or grab 2 pens?) and do the same rhythm but flick your hands down as if you were holding your rope.
Once you can keep this rhythm and start and stop it without fail, try the same thing with a jump rope and FILM YOURSELF. When you mess up, see at what point you are messing up. If your rope isn’t making it under your feet a second time before your feet hit the ground, you are spinning too slow. If the rope is spinning around your feet twice and then clipping your toes on the next revolution, you are spinning too fast and not allowing time for your feet to jump out of the way on your next rep.
Once you get the rhythm down, we want to start speeding up the rope and improving efficiency all around. You can bump that BPM up to 110ish and start spinning the rope faster, but we also need to talk about body positioning.
Your hands should be at your sides, not raising up in the air or out in front of your body. When you jump, you should be jumping straight up using your calves and a little knee bend. DON’T push your feet out in front of you, tuck your knees, or crunch your neck/shoulders down when you jump. Stay upright and jump in one spot over and over. Use primarily wrists to spin the rope, if you are using your full arm then you are wasting energy.
As you get better, you will learn to relax your shoulders more and keep a steady breath. An easy way to minimize fatigue is to jump a little less and spin the rope slightly faster. A shorter rope will help with this, however this also makes a mess up more likely, so you must stay disciplined when speeding up the cadence.
Triple Unders and Beyond…
The next natural progression in this sequence is triple unders or even more revolutions. The same drill can be applied to these, you just need to tap your sides three or more time in midair and learn the rhythm. With more revolutions, you may need to jump higher, so you could lower the BPM to 90 in order to squeeze three taps into midair.