Double Unders are a great Jump Rope exercise that requires a good amount of skills and agility. They improve your balance, footwork and coordination and challenge your cardiovascular system.
But what if you can't do them yet? No worries–there are alternatives to Double Unders that you can do while still practicing your main skill.
Of course, who wouldn't like to be able to do Double Unders. The one and only way to get there is to practice, practice and practice. Sounds totally boring, but that's the way it is.
I started practicing Double Unders when I first started CrossFit. I remember how frustrating they were at first. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, there was no way I could do them.
Until one day I could. I practiced about 2-3 months twice a week after my main workout to get there. It may sound like a looong time for you and I admit that I'm not the fastest learner, but compared to some other exercises that I'm trying to do, it's still relatively short time.
For example, pistol squats and pull ups are, at least for me, much harder to learn. I guess I'm generally better at skills and exercises that require good cardio base (thank you, years of long distance running!) than those that require strength, as it wasn't until 2.5 or so years ago when I started paying any attention on strength training at all.
Five Alternatives to Double Unders
Learning to do Double Unders may take a lot of time. You get frustrated, you get bored, you get whipped by your rope, which leaves some not so beautiful marks on your thighs, calves and arms…
But you've got to keep going.
While you're constantly practicing, there are some alternatives to Double Unders that you can do as well. Mixing things up and adding variety to your Jump Rope workouts is good for several reasons:
- You keep things interesting. While trying and working on your Double Unders should still be your main focus, you get some variety and rest from them by practicing other Jump Rope techniques.
- You still work on your speed and agility. While these exercises below are lower intensity than Double Unders, you still learn the right body position, become faster and improve your agility, skills, foot work and coordination.
- You learn different techniques. Not every Jump Rope workout has to involve Double Unders. Do any of these to keep your Jump Rope workouts more interesting.
Five Alternatives to Double Unders
That said, here are five alternatives to Double Unders that you can do to make your main skill practice more interesting.
Feet Criss Cross
How To: Start out with 5-10 Single Unders. Then, before each jump, cross your legs and land with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Alternate the crossing legs (right over left, then left over right).
Side To Side Jumps
How To: Start out with 5-10 Single Unders. Then, keep your feet close together and take small jumps from side to side.
How To: For High Knees, start with “running”, instead of regular Single Unders. When you find a good rhythm and feel comfortable, simply start bringing the knees higher. That significantly increases the intensity of this workout.
Front Straddles are very similar to Feet Criss Cross Jumps but the difference is that you won't be crossing your feet from side to side, but from front to back instead.
How To: Start out with 5-10 Single Unders. After each jump, you will end up with one feet in front of the other with a small distance in between.
Every-Other Double Under
This is a huge step closer to mastering Double Unders!
How To: Start out with 5-10 Single Unders. Then, try to do one Double Under by jumping a little higher. Don't lift the heels close to your butt, but instead, try to get higher by bringing the toes up.
Once you've done one Double Under, your rhythm probably gets messed up a bit at first. In order to find it again and also bring your heart rate down a bit, do one (or more) Single Unders, before attempting the next Double Under.
As you get better, try jumping two doubles in a row. Then three. Then four.
Double Unders… You'll Get There!
All these exercises teach you skills and improve your balance, footwork and coordination that you need to get better in Jump Rope exercises in general. They're great for adding some variety to your workouts.
But just the way to get better at pull ups is to do pull ups, and to improve your squats is to do squats, to be able to do good Double Unders, you have to practice Double Unders consistently.
Here are a few keys to keep in mind when practicing:
- The jump should be bouncing by pointing the toes up. Instead of kicking your heels back when jumping, think that you have springs under the balls of your feet and jump straight up. Kicking the heels back seems to make more sense at first, but you lose a lot of time and energy while doing so. That means that you're not ready to do another jump when the rope is at your eye level and you should be already jumping back up again.
- Avoid moving from side to side or front and back. That, again takes too much energy. Try to keep your body in place, moving directly up and down, but not so much other directions.
- Rotate the rope only by moving your wrists, not arms. That's, again, saves you more energy.
- Pay special attention on moving your wrists quickly. That was really important lesson for me when I was learning the proper technique for Double Unders. It helped me improve much faster.
Mix your Double Under practice up by doing some alternatives to them. Every Jump Rope exercise is beneficial and improves your balance, footwork and coordination. Plus, you get a great cardiovascular exercise by doing every one of them.
Check out a few Jump Rope exercises here. You can do any of the exercises in this post in place of Double Unders, if you can't do them yet.