Why and How to do Double Unders

by Neil Anderson

There are few movements we do that are as good for you as the double under.  If you have ever had to jump up to, or down from anything, you have used skills and abilities that are represented in the double under.  This makes learning to do double unders highly unique in terms of functional benefit.  This added to the fact that few other movements can tax both of your energy systems fully (aerobic & anaerobic) while at the same time taxing and improving your nervous system, mandates their mastery.   A regular single under simply doesn't have as much benefit.  This is why we insist on the double under.

Performing a double under is a simple concept.  It is a jump rope movement where you jump once and the rope passes twice under you before you land.  Those who are really good at it can do these continuously.  The GPP record, so far, is over 140 without a miss.  This was done with our crappy jump ropes that weren't specifically built for performing double unders.

The problem is that this movement is much easier said than done.  We joke that double under day is better known as expletive day.  It is not uncommon to hear more than a few swears per hour when double unders come up in a workout.  The fact that double unders are so difficult is exactly what makes them so valuable as contributors to your health. 

The thing to understand about doing double unders is that stimulating your nervous system is every bit as important to your long term health as any other type of exercise.  Oft-times this is overlooked in the health and fitness world.  All too often other fitness programs shy away from including difficult or complicated movements.  Usually this is because other trainers and health professionals either do not understand the benefits of doing complex movements or; don't want to take the time to teach complex movements; or because they are so weak minded as to cave to the preferences of their clients who tend to HATE these types of movements.  At GPP, your trainers have none of these ailments.  We understand the benefits enough that we will take the time to teach them to you and even become insistent (to some degree) that you perform them.  With love. 

Below is a list of important tips and tricks to remember when attempting double unders. 

1.  Learning a new skill improves your fitness instantly.  Think about it.  If increased fitness is characterized by your improved work capacity over broad time and modal domain, wouldn't learning a new skill (like a double under) be instant improved work capacity?   Upon completing your first double under you have work capacity where previously there was none.  THAT is instant fitness improvement.

2.  Find a rope that fits you.  There are many different sized ropes at GPP.  If you step on your rope near the middle while holding both handles, the handles should come up to your armpits.  A little shorter or longer might better suit your preferences, but huge deviations will hinder your attempts. 

3.  You'll need a rope that spins quickly.  Very light ropes made of nylon and leather are hard to get spun up to the speed that you'll need.  However, we have been able to condition leather ropes to where we could make them work.  The rope pictured above is like the ones our expert DU jumpers swing.  Click to buy!

 

 

4.  Keep your joints aligned.  Roughly your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and head should be aligned with each other. Marcus demos perfect alignment (click to enlarge)

 5.  Smaller jumps with minimal body movements are best.  Lifting your knees/heels or leaning far forward is inefficient and will limit your ability to do multiples.

6.  Spin the rope from your wrists.  Smaller, faster movements are better. 

7.  Keep your head up.  Looking down usually pulls your body forward on the landing and limits your ability to recover from jumps. 

8.  Bounce from your toes.  Landing too hard or roughly is a sure sign you are out of whack.  Align your body on each jump by bouncing from your toes. 

9. Relax!  Remember to breath.  These movements really are much more natural than most of us make them.  Forcing double unders is the best way to muck them up.

We have found that the hardest double under to learn is your first one.  Once you have that, learning to do multiples is exponentially easier.  The best way to learn your first one is by trying.  You'd be surprised how many people tell us they can't do double unders. When asked, "How many days in a row did you try them before giving up?"  The answer is usually less than 2!  Sometimes less than 1!   

Be patient with yourself.  I knew a lady who tried nearly daily for 9 months before she got her first one.  It seems like a long time to try something, but after you get yours I think you'll agree...they really are worth the effort.  Good luck.