How to rock double unders

Still struggling with double unders?

I used to have trouble as well. When they came up in a WOD, I always took the option to scale by jumping singles. That meant I would have to do double or triple the amount of jumps, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t have any trouble with singles, and I was more concerned with finishing the WOD than improving my skills.

Then about a year ago I wasn’t given the option to scale.My assistant coach said there would be no scaling. Everyone had to try.

I struggled. I don’t think I finished the first round.

Embarrassed and frustrated, I left the gym a little miffed at Jeff and Zach, but I also left with determination.

I decided that would NEVER happen again.

I went home and practiced. I set aside time at least twice a week, often more, and I practiced. I set a goal. I started with trying to do two in a row. Then three. They started to come more easily. And then it happened — I finally was able to do a WOD with double unders.

It took months. It took practice. Maybe it will be faster for you, but if it doesn’t, I don’t believe you CAN’T do them. If I can learn, so can you.

How to practice

  1. Set aside time
    I set my stopwatch to 10 minutes at first, 2 or 3 times a week. If I couldn’t reach my goal in 10 minutes, then I was done. If I had time left, I went for more double unders.
  2. Set a goal
    It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but make it realistic. Starting out, you might set a goal of 30 total or maybe try to string two in a row several times. Over time, increase your goal to keep pushing yourself.
  3. High-five yourself
    When you reach your goal, celebrate! I used to run inside and tell my husband. He always gave me a big hug, because he knew it was important to me. But even if I didn’t reach my goal, I would look at what I was able to accomplish and celebrate that. The important thing to remember is not to get down on yourself.
  4. Test
    Don’t wimp out on a WOD. Once you’re able to string a few in a row, do double unders in the workout. It’s OK if you don’t finish. The clock will push you harder than practicing on your own.
  5. Don’t cheat
    There’s no need to count attempts. The whole point is to become proficient with double unders, and counting attempts isn’t really helping you there.

I’m still finding ways to improve every time I work double unders. I’m up to just over 20 in a row, and I know I can do better.

Cindy’s Tips

  1. Fix your gaze
    I’ve found that finding a fixed object really helps me focus, but watching other people moving around only distracts me and causes me to trip up. When I do double unders, it’s often dark, so I look for a star or a light to focus on.
  2. Jump!
    You can give yourself more time to swing the rope if you jump higher off the ground.
  3. It’s all in the wrists
    You’ll move the rope faster if you turn the rope at the wrists rather than the elbows. Don’t waste your energy, and try to just move your wrists.
  4. Find a good rope
    I’ve tried 4 or 5 different jump ropes over the past 10 years, and my favorite is the $5 jump rope I bought through Kung Fu. It’s not fancy.
    But you have to find the rope that works for you. You may want a lighter rope with a smoother turn. You may need to try a few out to find one that works for you. Just make sure you can cut it to the right height. There’s nothing worse than a rope that’s too short or too long.

Good luck! Tweet me photos or videos of you doing double unders. I’d love to see them!

On being appreciative of your accomplishments

I realized yesterday that I focus so much on what I need to work on, or on what I can’t do yet, that I forget about the things I can do, and as a result, I’m not as appreciative of what I’ve accomplished.

Double unders are the perfect example. I remember not even being able do single jump rope swings right after Luke was born. It took months of practice in Kung Fu conditioning class and later at Crossfit to feel like jump rope was easy.

Double unders eluded me for a long time, though. It wasn’t until last summer that I finally got fed up and started practicing most days a week. It took a while, but gradually I began to string them together. Now, I’ve GOT them. It took work, but I did it. And when they come up in WODs, like they did on Tuesday, I can zoom through them quickly without scaling.

5 rounds
3 deadlift (M 305# / W 205#)
10 burpees
20 double unders

Time: 12:55 @ 155#

This was one of our mid-month benchmarks — it will show up again in 6 weeks. I debated over the weight to choose. I needed to go heavy, but how heavy? On Saturday my max was 165#, but maybe that was just that day? Zach gave us time to warmup with the bar, so I loaded 125# on the bar and worked my way up. When I got to 155#, it felt really challenging, so I knew I had found my weight.

When I was done and was cleaning up, Zach told me I did well on the double unders. That made me stop and think. They’ve become “just another thing I can do,” but not without effort. I really worked hard to “get” double unders, and as with all accomplishments, I should be appreciative.

“Annie” RX

I’ve had an unofficial goal since last May’s Garage Gym Throwdown: master the double under!

It bothered me to scale the double unders in the competition. I decided then and there that I would stop talking about double unders and actually do it!

I’ve been practicing over the past few months. My speed rope is showing its wear. the wire is showing through where it hits the pavement. I create sparks in the driveway (fire hazard!).

On Sunday, the speed rope and I disagreed over where I should land my legs, and I got a little ripped up.

View of Cindy's bloody leg with jump rope on floor
Battle scars! Merely a flesh wound!

All of the practice paid off Tuesday morning when I tackled the WOD RX for the first time ever.

“Annie”
50-40-30-20-10
Double unders
Sit ups

This was not my first run-in with “Annie.” I’ve taken her on here, here, and here, but never RX’d. I wasn’t sure I’d finish. But as the WOD wore on, I realized my double unders were getting easier, as long as I focused. On the last set of 10, Zach was watching, and I messed up several times. So I stopped, took a deep breath, and refocused. That got it done!

Time: 12:43 RX

I had an extra spring in my step all day. Yay!

A WOD with JUST what I’ve been working on!

I saw this on Twitter last night, and I about fell out of my chair.

CrossFitCentral

@CrossFitCentral CrossFitCentral
9/15 WOD: Strength: 5 x 5 Front Squat3 Rounds for time:50 Double Unders10 R-Arm DB Muscle Snatch10 L-Arm DB Muscle Snatch

OMG! A workout with exercises I’ve actually been PRACTICING! It’s like it was made for ME!

That does not happen very often. I love it when the stars align.

Zach changed up the strength part just a little in order to make sure we would have enough time for everything. So we ended up doing 3 sets of 5 reps for the front squats.

Cindylifts the barbell up on her last rep front squat at 105#

Results: 85-95-105

My shoulders are so boney, the bar is painful on my right shoulder and left a nice little bruise. On the 3rd set, I finally got smart and moved my bra strap to give me a little extra padding there.

Guess I need to grow some muscles there.

For the met-con, I knew that I had a choice — do double the amount of single jump rope swings and likely finish the WOD within the 10 minutes allotted OR attempt the double unders and likely not finish.

I chose the second option.  I mean — why do singles just to finish the WOD when I NEED to keep practicing those doubles?

I did better than I expected.

Finished: 1 round + 50 double unders + 10 snatches-R + 4 snatches-L @ 30#

Full disclosure: I did technically “cheat” at the double unders. I counted failures as well as successes, although I had way more of the latter. I figured, because I was doing two or three singles to get started on the doubles, they would make up for the failure. In all, I probably did more like 75 true double unders instead of 100. I wanted to make sure I got into the workout far enough to practice those snatches too!

Fight Gone Bad 6 happens in two days, and I’m so excited! I’m super thrilled and proud that Luke will be joining me. And I’ll be surrounded by tons of friends who will also be participating. Please consider donating to me before it’s too late!

Roast and ratatouille

You should have seen the meal I put together for my family Sunday night.  I WISH I had taken a picture, because I was so proud.

I made an arm roast in the pressure cooker (with one of the grassfed calf cuts in our freezer), ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes from our CSA from a Cooks Illustrated recipe, and braised cabbage from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint cookbook.

Even baby girl got in on the beef.  But instead of the eggplant and cabbage, we steamed an acorn squash for her. She loves beef.  Both of my kids do!

The boys and I also enjoyed an ice cold Topo Chico and conversation with our meal.

Ahhhh… it was worth working in the kitchen half of the day. You know, I think I actually LIKE cooking.

Shocking, I know.

Despite the cooking and all of the other work I did Sunday, I was feeling really good after the kids went to bed.  I decided to throw in a quick workout, since Monday I’ll be resting ahead of Crossfit Total.

10 deadhang negative pullups
400 single jump rope swings / 35 double unders

5 rounds (1 min rest in between)
5 DB deadlifts
5 DB hang cleans
5 DB push press
5 DB squats

Time: 7:56 @ 25#

Those negatives are getting easier.  I’m even able to hold at the top a lot better than I could before.  And I’m determine on those double unders.  One day I will be able to knock them out as easily as I do single swings.

No workout tonight.  However, I will be rolling out some tight muscles and doing some mobility work.  I’ve been attempting the couch stretch lately… finding the “suckage.”  And I have FOUND it.  Ouch.

I did it! A double under PR!

I’m so excited.  I’ve made it my mission to work on pullups and double unders.  Whenever I can, I pull out my speed rope or whatever rope I can find and I practice.

Tonight I practiced in the driveway while Andy had the sprinkler out, watering the lawn (It’s our watering day). The sprinkler would occasionally get me as it waved back and forth, but it felt really good so I didn’t move.

I digress.

The last time I practiced, I resolved to do 20 double unders, and it took me a really long time.  Tonight, it went much faster.  So I decided to do 10 more.  And that went fast!  So I decided to try to string two together (I had been doing a few singles, then a double, singles, then a double).

I managed to string 5 together.

I was so proud, I ran inside to tell Andy.

“Andy! Andy! Guess what!  I got 35 double unders!”

I’m a dork.  I know. But one day I want to do “Annie” RX.  And I don’t want to have to scale in a competition like I did in the Garage Gym Throwdown.

I also did my 10 negative deadhang pullups, which suck.  Then I followed up with the WOD Andy did Monday.  Well, sort of.  It was the closest I could get without a rowing machine or a 24kg kettlebell.

2 rounds
400m run
35 Russian swings @ 50#
75 squats

Time: 12:03

I’m going to pay for that one tomorrow.  We’re doing a squat clean AMRAP. Ouch.

Sugar highs and jump ropes

Hello.  My name is Cindy.  I am a sugar addict.

I can back from “vacation” with a goal to eat fairly clean and get off the sugar until Luke’s birthday party.  AT LEAST.  Oh my.  What good intentions.

It started Tuesday with a lunch seminar at Maggiano’s.  I shunned the pasta, yet ate some of the ice cream off of a dessert.  Then, after a crazy Wednesday, I told Andy it was either wine or chocolate, so he chose chocolate.  And on Thursday… oh Thursday.  Andy and I had lunch and decided to walk into a place at Arbor Walk.

They had samples.

I was hooked.  This is what I had:

Oh Tootie Pies, why did you tempt me with such delicious samples?

This is a horrible photo of the slice of chocolate pecan pie I ate, which was carefully presented on a place with whipped cream and chocolate sauce art.

I am sooooooooo glad this place is not in an area I frequent.  Because it was delicious.

Sigh.  Oh well.  My motto has always been that if you’re going to eat sugar, it should be quality stuff — not crap.

I’m not sure Thursday’s workout even came close to making up for it.

Hang Squat Clean
1-1-1-1-1

Results: 65-75-85-85-85

I focused on form rather than weight for this strength session.  The heavy cleans were difficult to master.  Steph and I were working together, and it was great because she was pointing out areas where I needed improvement.  I can’t wait to take the Oly class she’s doing.

For Time:
50-40-30-20-10
Double unders
Box jumps

Results: 2 rounds + jump rope + 17 box jumps in 12 minutes

It was 3 singles for every double, but I made at least 10 double under attempts each round.  And guess what!  I succeeded most of the time!  I’m still working on my double unders, but I am proud that I have improved a lot.  It’s starting to click for me, and I’m going to work on them a lot more — not becuase I have something to prove, but because they’re just kind of fun.

Did I just write double unders are fun?

 

My first double under

I sorta dreaded class on Thursday morning.

For time:
50-40-30-20-10
Double Unders
10-8-6-4-2
Renedage Row (M 55# / W 35#)

Ugh.  Double unders.

I can do single jumps with my rope pretty easily, but double unders?  I have a friend that can do double unders all day.  Seriously.  They’re like nothing to him.

Usually I try a few, get caught up, and double the number so I can do singles.

They wouldn’t let me do that Thursday morning.  We skipped our strength portion (push jerk) to practice.

That’s when something amazing happened.  While practicing the skill, I got my first double under.  Then I did 2 more.

Wow!  A PR!

Then we HAD to do them for the WOD.  Singles did not count.  Fortunately, each double under attempt counted as 1.

Because I struggled so much, I didn’t finish the WOD.  I was on the round of 30 at #25 when time was called.  I was using 25# dumbbells.

But I got probably 7 REAL double unders.  A victory!

Return to working out

I should be in bed, so this will be a quick post.

I took several days off from working out after pulling a muscle in my back.  It was one of those I’m-embarrassed-that-it-happened-and-please-don’t-tell-my-OB-GYN-how-I-did-it-because-she-will-freak kind of injuries.

A light deadlift did it, and it really sucks not being able to take ibuprofen for the swelling.  All I could do was apply ice and take Tylenol for the pain.  Can you say ‘ow?’

I’m feeling better now, and I’m still careful to ice several times a day to make sure it stays that way.

Last night, Andy handed me a workout that would be a good way to get back into working out.  It was inspired by a workout some friends did last week.

50-40-30-20-10
Double Unders
Push ups

Time: 14:02

I don’t even mess with double unders right now, so I doubled the reps for single jump rope swings.  We were out front (being attacked by mosquitoes), so I did elevated push ups on the front railing — chest to rail.  Ow.

I planned to work out tonight, but a long day at the zoo really knocked it out of me.  Today became an active rest day instead.

Bad week, good WODs

I’ll just be honest.  It’s been a very bad week — starting about Saturday.

No need to go into specifics.  The reasons are not important to the outside world, and I’m so super private about stuff like that anyway (believe it or not) that I would never in a million years write about them in a public forum.  Let’s just leave it at bad.

Despite that, I did manage to keep up with my workouts this week.  I’ll run through them quickly.

MONDAY:

We planned a met-con, but it was raining outside, so we did an indoor strength workout instead.

One-legged squats 3-3-3 (assisted w/ band)
Overhead press 2-3-4 (25# DB)
Bent-over row 5-5-5 (25# DB

TUESDAY:

This was a Crossfit morning.

Burgener Warm-up (PVC pipe)

-then-

21-15-9
Hang Power Snatch  (M 95# / W 65#)
Overhead Squat  (M 95# / W 65#)

Cindy holds up the 45# bar at the end of the hang power snatch
By Coach Carl

Here I am finishing up the move with the 45# bar.  I almost grabbed a 35# bar.  Glad I didn’t — didn’t need to.

Again, Zach called me out that the “preggo lady has the best form in the class.”  It’s interesting that you can barely tell I’m pregnant in this photo.

I finished in 11:07.

THURSDAY:

Thursday’s at Crossfit have become part lifting and part met-con, and I love it.

Shoulder Press
3-3-3-3-3

My max is only 65 on the strict press, so I kept it fairly light, considering.

45-50-50-50-55

-then-

15-3-9-6-12
Pull ups (assisted w/ blue band)
Box Jumps (step ups for me from now on)
Row for calories

I finished last in my class, but it doesn’t bother me — got a great workout: 12:28.

SATURDAY:

Andy went to the free indoor workout at my gym, which sounded brutal, so I did a WOD on my own.

“Baby Annie”
30-20-10
Double-unders or Tuck jumps
knees-to-elbows

This was a quick one: 5:52.

I really like subbing knees-to-elbows for the sit ups, because it still works my abs, plus I get to work on my grip.  I’m still no good at double-unders, so I tried those tuck jumps, which are really hard!  Much harder than singles!

I should mention that before starting, I swam five laps at Northwest pool with the kickboard, which tired out my legs.

I also started working on deadhang pull ups.  Inspired by the women’s class, I used a band to help me do 10.  My plan is to keep at it every other day, lowering the thickness of the bend until I don’t need help at all.  One day, I’m going to do an unassisted pull up!