Remember this fun piece of workout equipment from when you were a kid?
I sure do! Of course, as a kid, I never used the jump rope for workout purposes. Jumping was just a fun thing to do with friends. We would do basic jumps with two feet, alternating feet, we hopped one foot and even tried to criss-cross our hands when jumping.
Now the jump rope is back in my life, but I use it for different reason – for working out. Of course, rope jumping is still fun but really efficient at the same time.
Why Rope Jumping?
1. Rope jumping gets your heart beating, making a great cardiovascular exercise. The more trained your cardiovascular system, the more oxygen your blood vessels are able to transport, meaning that you won't get tired as quickly and are able to exercise longer, harder and more efficiently.
2. Following from the previous: Rope jumping is a great calorie burner. The more you are able to work, the more calories you burn. Easy as that.
3. Rope jumping blasts your calves and tones your arms, but I also makes your core muscles engaged all the time, shaping your abs, too. So it's a great toning equipment.
4. It makes a great indoors aerobic exercise. If you are about to skip your outside run because of the bad weather, you can always substitute it with rope jumping inside.
5. It's a great piece of equipment to use for your interval workouts. Alternating slower paced exercises with jump rope exercises that get your heart rate up makes a great interval workout.
6. It's easy to bring with you anywhere you go. It's also probably one of the cheapest fitness tools out there!
What are Double Unders?
Double unders simply mean that instead of the rope making a single pass per jump, in double unders it makes two. Double unders are significantly harder than single unders, requiring better coordination and faster work. They also make your heart beating much faster.
Double unders are about three times as hard as single unders, meaning that to get the same benefit from single unders that you get from 50 double unders, you have to complete 150 single unders.
I first found out about Double Unders in my CrossFit box. They looked super simple as our coach demonstrated them, but once I tried to do them myself, it was a whole different story. The rope would always get caught by my feet no matter how high I jumped.
I would spread my hands too wide, so the rope always seemed to get too short, even if I had measured it and it was supposed to be right length. And when I accidentally managed to do one I would just be too out of breath to get to the next one.
I was impatient and frustrated but I kept trying. I knew that once I master them, it'd become a great time saver in CrossFit WODs – it takes a whole lot longer to do 150 single unders instead of 50 double unders. Slowly but steadily, I started to get better, first making every second jump single and every second double under.
I took extra time to practice my double unders at least twice a week after my workout until I was able to master them.
See this video for double unders.
How to do them?
Here are the main things that helped me to learn how to do Double Unders.
1. Choose skinnier jump rope over a thicker one. There are many kinds of ropes out there and they do make a difference. The skinnier the rope the faster it moves. And yes, it is more painful to hit yourself with the skinnier one.
2. Make sure your rope is right length. For that, stand on the middle of the rope with one foot and pull the handles straight up. The top of the handles should reach your armpit.
3. The jump should be bouncing, so try not kick your heels back when jumping but jump straight up. Imagine that you have springs under your feet.
4. Avoid moving from side to side or front and back, jump up and down.
5. Keep your arms on your sides and move them as little as possible. Rotate the rope only by moving your wrists and do it as fast as you can. The speed of rotating the rope is extremely important – once I figured that out and started to rotate my wrists faster, I immediately got so much better.
6. Start out with single unders and once you have found a good rhythm, try to do one double under. It will change the rhythm, because you probably jump remarkably higher and when you hit the ground again, it's almost impossible to get the next double right away. Once you have done one double under and your rope wasn't caught up by your feet (that's great!), keep jumping single unders until you find a comfortable rhythm again. Then try another double under. As you get better, try jumping two doubles in a row. Then three. Then four. Then try to jump for 30 seconds!
The most important tip is: practice, practice, practice. That's the only way of getting better. I remember one time when I had been on a vacation for nearly three weeks and hadn't even touched the jump rope. Just before going to the vacation I had mastered the one-single, one double rhythm, and when I tried to do them after the break, all I had learnt was almost gone. It was really frustrating. So, be consistent and you'll do it!
Did you jump rope as a kid?
Can you do double unders? What helped you to learn them?