A goal for some, an obstacle to most. They can quite literally be a hurdle to anyone looking to progress with skipping workouts, being twice as exhausting and complicated enough to trip you despite all your good intentions and determination.
If you don’t know what a double under is, or have heard them spoken of with such awe that you’ve envisioned some colossal exercise that puts the greatest functional fitness athletes on the floor, you might be somewhat bemused to learn that they are exactly what they say on the tin. When performing a standard skip cycle, the rope will go around twice, thus passing under you double the number of standard times while you jump.
Sure, it’s easy to talk about, even easier to type about, but for skipping beginners, mastering a jump big enough to allow a rope to pass under twice can seem a mighty difficult feat.
Dos & Don’ts
Don’t go thinking that the bigger your arms swing the better your workout will be. Perhaps a focus on getting a full range of movement when weightlifting has given you the bright idea that you should make the biggest circles you can with your arms when skipping. Concentrate on wrist action, keeping your arms at waist height as a general rule – though some suggest closer to the base of your armpit is the best height.
Overthinking doesn’t get you very far with your skipping technique. Practice makes perfect. You’ll see the experts’ ropes skimming a minimal gap that seems impossible when you’re at a beginning level, but trying to match that will potentially result in clipping your feet a frustrating number of times. The answer to this is to jump higher than you think you need to so that the rope can pass twice beneath you. With practice, you’ll find the distance to the floor narrows, and in the process, you’ll be working your muscles harder to jump higher.
Find your rhythm. Double-unders are a matter of timing, just like standard skipping. As you’ll know from mastering standard skips, your natural metronome kicks in until you’re tired and your rope drops. With just a few tries you’ll be able to measure the beat that works for you. Keeping to it is another challenge altogether.
Keep your approach simple. It’s not rocket science. If you’re swinging the rope as quickly as you would for standard single-unders then you probably won’t be able to jump high quickly enough to perform a double under. Likewise, if the rope swings too slowly there won’t be enough momentum to keep your rhythm.
Improving Your Double Unders
You can practice them until you’re blue in the face (literally) but if your workout time is limited this can feel like a waste of energy that might have been spent elsewhere. For this reason, it’s advisable to throw your double-unders in as part of a broader workout.
Bear in mind the muscles that you’ll be working: your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes. If you practice your double-unders after a leg workout then you’ll find it harder. On the other hand, building other areas of your game will strengthen the require muscles in the long run.
Mix up your double-unders with singles if you keep twanging your shins or mistiming your bigger jumps. This way you’ll keep your morale up when the doubles get frustrating and you’ll still leave your session knowing that you got some quality cardio.