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How to master double-unders

exercises
(Image credit: Unknown)

Unless you've ever been a boxer (or, uh, a young girl), there's every chance you can't skip. But you should learn: not only can it burn 250 calories in 15 minutes – it can improve your vertical jump, help to injury-proof your ankles and improve your coordination. If you've already nailed the basic technique, it's time to step things up – by mastering the 'double-under' (that's whipping the rope under your feet twice for every jump) you'll increase the burn and make yourself a contender in CrossFit. James St Leger, CrossFit competitor and rope renaissance man, has the knowledge you need.

Learn the basics

‘The key features of single skips all carry over to more advanced stuff like double-unders. Keep your chest up, shoulders relaxed,
and jump in one spot without piking at the hips, tuck jumping or donkey kicking your feet back.’

Improve efficiency

‘With the basics down, stop flinging your arms around. 'Keep your hands slightly in front your body with your elbows relaxed by your side, - rope momentum and speed is powered from the wrist down, not the elbow down, so no big windmill movements with the arms.’

Go for the double

‘Once comfortable with singles, it's time to work on that first double under - it will usually be inefficient, and you'll have to jump high and swing fast to get it, but the skills can always be fine tuned later on. Build up confidence by following the double under by some singles, followed by another double under. Gradually build up to alternating doubles and singles, and ultimately stringing double under together.’

Correct errors

‘If you find yourself piking or donkey kicking to get height, you need to work on that - keep your chest up, achieve more height by being more explosive in your bound - your calves will feel it the following day. Once extra height has been achieved, focus on rope speed generated from the wrists. Jump just before the rope hits the floor in front of you, not when it is above your head, and as always, work on wrist speed.’

...and get your numbers up

‘As a new coordination skill and timing is being learnt and tested, don't expect to achieve this over night. Practice – with correction of efficiency errors – will soon allow you to achieve a high number of unbroken double understand without suffering too much fatigue.’ Once you can manage 50 in a row, it's time to try out for the CrossFit Games.

Joel Snape
Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.