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Double Your Fun, Double Your…Ouch!

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W​e’ve all been there: looking over the WOD with excitement only to have our heart stopped cold when we see the dreaded exercise…double-unders.

Double-unders are the great equalizer…

The strongest lifters and fastest runners who haven’t learned this technique are gridlocked in the workout as other athletes pass them by. This exercise is something everyone can learn, but something everyone suffers through until they do. If you’ve been watching double-unders from the sidelines and you’re ready to jump to the next step, let’s figure out how. 

F​irst and foremost, we must make sure single-unders are comfortable before we move on. You should be able to do singles without the swearing and rage fits normally reserved for doubles. Once we have that, let’s put the rope down and practice our high jump.

Jump high and tall, “like a Pogo Stick” as coach Miki says.

No donkey kicking or pike jumping like we’re on an Olympic high dive. We want vertical jumps landing on our toes

Much of the double-under technique comes from the flick of the wrist. While we’re jumping nice and tall, practice slapping your sides with your hands only. Feel the rhythm: jump, tap-tap, land. Jump, tap-tap, land. While jumping tall and vertical, continue slapping your sides like a happy penguin.

N​ow that you can feel the high jump and hear the rhythm we’re looking for, it’s time to grab that rope, but we’re not going for doubles just yet! Keep the same height in your jump and continue to flip singles under your feet. We call these “big singles” and you want to get used to feeling the rope orbit around your whole body during a high jump.

Okay, we’re ready. Throw two or three big singles under your feet then go for a double! Remember that much of the exercise comes from the wrist, so focus on that quick flick to whip the rope around your body rather than using your whole arms to muscle it around you. Continue this series of single-single-double until the double comes easily and without dread. 

​Congratulations athlete! This seemingly unattainable exercise is now in your reach, but as we stated before, this is where the real journey begins. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t revert back to singles unless the WOD calls for a quantity beyond a reasonable challenge.

Now that you can conquer one double-under, the real work begins…

T​he road from one to twenty-five double-unders is arguably more difficult than the road from singles to your first double. Take it slow and try not to get so frustrated that you throw your rope across the room. Ten unbroken doubles might seem like a reasonable goal after your first successful double, but there is a big difference between resetting with singles before your next attempt, and rebounding from one double into another. Go for two to three instead of ten, and work your way up to five. 

Many of us contort our bodies while we flip doubles under our feet whether we know it or not. This affects our landing and therefore our next jump, and why it’s harder to string together two doubles rather than the single-single-double sequence. While working on connecting two to five doubles, keep your high vertical jump in mind and bounce off your toes. Filming yourself or having a friend watch you can be helpful to correct your jump posture.

The journey begins here – from five to ten double-unders.

When you finally get ten doubles, that is a milestone worth celebrating! Any quantity of doubles in a workout can be overcome little by little with ten. With every ascension in the quantity of double-unders you can accomplish, you can expect setbacks.

The tiger stripes that adorn your body from the jump rope don’t go away just because you’ve mastered the first step of the technique. You’ll wear those stripes on your journey up to fifty unbroken doubles, and earn every last one of them. But after some time, the double-under will be yet another seemingly impossible CrossFit feat that you’ve mastered and no longer think about. Graduates from Fundies will ask how the hell you do that? It’s all part of the journey and fun we call CrossFit.

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