For some reason, the double-under has become the new muscle-up. I’ve seen gen pop clients and competitive athletes alike beg, borrow, and steal to achieve this seemingly impossible task. Not to make light of their struggle, but I find it amusing, considering that jumping rope is something most of us did quite often as kids.
We didn’t do it for time, for reps, or for Instagram followers – we did it for fun. No thought to arm position, pelvic tilt, or foot dorsiflexion. We just picked up a jump rope and started jumping.
Apparently, somewhere along the way of growing up, the coordination faded. And with the prevalence of double-unders in Crossfit, more adults than ever are fighting to acquire that skill.
There are a number of useful drills that break down the exercise into manageable practice pieces. But even after working on those, many still struggle. Here are a few basics that are often overlooked, and might just be the secret to your success.
1. Use a heavier rope.
Lightweight speed ropes became increasingly popular around Crossfit, basically because workouts called for tons of reps and a heavier rope will fatigue you faster. What many people don’t realize is that speed ropes are the advanced version of a jump rope. They require significant wrist dexterity and coordination to use properly.
In fact, one of the most popular custom jump rope brands, RX Smart Gear, clearly states on their website that heavier ropes are for beginners and lighter ones are not for beginners. But hey, who wants to follow directions when they could be using the same equipment that the pros use?
The heavier the rope (not just the handles), the more momentum it generates as you spin it. We’ve all heard of centrifugal force, right? A heavier rope will keep its shape and motion much more consistently than a light one. Sure, it might tire your forearms more, but if you’re at this stage, you need to build more endurance anyway.
Once you can start stringing together 10-20 reps with a heavier rope, you’re ready to move to a lighter one. Your coordination will be improved, your forearms will have more strength endurance, and a lighter rope will be a breeze. After you adjust to the timing of lighter weight, you’ll likely immediately add 10-15 reps to your unbroken set.
One of my favorite starter ropes is this one from Nike: