Conquering Double Unders
Double Unders can be one of the most frustrating movements in CrossFit. When lifting, pulling or pushing, an athlete can always “force” or “muscle” another rep, even if it is with bad form. Double Unders are one of those exercises that fall into the neurological improvement categories of our 10 physical skills. We can’t muscle through or force an extra rep. We have to maintain patience and stay relaxed, even when we are tired. We have to remember to breathe and find that calm and mental center that will allow us to grind through.
I never thought there would be a day when I was giving advice on how to do Double Unders. At one time, my double under ability, or actually lack of double under ability, was quite notorious within the CrossFit Austin community. Let me take you back a couple years before the likes of Miguel, Gilbert, Shane, and Alex. I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for Sectionals being held at Camp Mabry (I know I may be dating a few of us). I remember the week leading up to the big day. The talk around the gym was about what weight would be used, what the rep scheme would look like, and if it was going to be a couplet or triplet. The only thing running through my mind was “I hope to God DUs won’t show up in the WOD”. It was here that my journey to Double Unders began.
The workouts were announced and, as I dreaded, Double Unders were not only a part of the last WOD, but there were 100 of them to complete. I was terrified. I quickly grabbed one of the ropes at the gym and began my rendition of Double Unders. Saturday came soon enough, and by that time, I was able to complete one double under followed by two singles. This was not consistent by any stretch of the imagination. As I arrived at Camp Mabry, I made it through the first two WODs (the whole time thinking about the 100 DUs to come). “3-2-1, Go!” and we were off! I remember getting through the OVHD squats, KB Snatches, KB Swings, Farmers’ Walk and then, to finish up, 100 DUs. I had heard all morning about how the grass was affecting everyone’s rope speed, etc. I knew a few blades of grass were the least of my worries. I reached my jump rope and I was off… Single, Single, DU… Single, Single, DU… Single, Single, Failed DU… and this is how it went for me. As the incredible family of CFA cheered me on and yelled the most supportive and kind words, I just couldn’t find a rhythm. I was second to last to finish the workout.
In the weeks following Sectionals, I saw DUss come up a few times in the WOD and it immediately put me in a bad mood. I saw those around me (some who started CrossFit before me and others after me) moving through them effortlessly. Needless to say, I was pissed! I began looking to Miguel and Boone. Studying their every move and (when I could set my ego aside) asking them for help. I would leave the gym and Google DU videos of Elite CF athletes and, at one point, Buddy Lee himself. I was looking for any type of guidance, training, and/or direction. For weeks I heard great cues from both coaches and members alike. We all know them by now:
*Look Straight ahead to maintain balance.
*Keep body upright and balanced with the weight on the balls of the feet.
*Jump only high enough to clear the rope.
*Land lightly on the balls of your feet.
*Keep your hands slightly in front of your shoulders.
*It’s all in the WRIST.
*Don’t “Donkey Kick.”
*Relax and Breathe.
It was only then the light bulb went off. I was missing one key component…PRACTICE! I firmly believe practice is the ultimate key to success. Whether you arrive early or stay late – grab a jump rope and put in the work. I often hear “I don’t have DUs”. I would challenge you to think about why. Have you put in the work?
It all comes down to PRACTICE. Take what you like from the coaches, your friends, and other members and find what works for you… then put in the work.
…Now on to Muscle-Ups!