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How to Master Double Unders?

Double unders are one of those movements Crossfit newbie’s find so frustrating.   A WOD of 50 double unders, would usually mean 100 singles. Were you like me?When I started Crossfit I hadn't skipped since primary school days. Remember the skippathon days?

So what is a double under?

“A double under (DU) is a popular exercise done using a jump rope in which the rope passes twice underneath your feet. It is significantly more effective than a single rope pass in that it allows you to work at higher capacity". Source: Athletics Wiki

Buddy Lee is an expert in DUs or should I say triple or multiple unders. Check out his crazy video. And don’t worry this is only for inspiration. Crossfitters aren’t THAT crazy. Well, at least not all of us.

A little history

The Double Under (DU) first appeared on crossfit.com in 2001. Since then it has risen in popularity.  The reason for this is a DU is a great conditioning workout. Accuracy, coordination and cardiovascular. Include a DU in a WOD and it will literally take your breath away. It's a significant difference. Totally ramps up the intensity. This is why it has been included in Hero WODs such as the "Bull" and "Nutts".

Bull Nutts
For time.
Two rounds of:
200 Double-unders
50 Overhead squats (61kg/135 pound)
50 Pull ups
1 mile run (1.6km)
For time.
10 Handstand push-ups
15 Deadlifts (113kg/250 pound)
25 Box jumps (30 inch box)
50 Pull-ups
100 Wallball (9kg/20 pounds)
200 Double Unders
Run 400 meters with a 20kg (45lb) plate

How to Master Double Unders?

There are 3 elements to mastering double unders. They are:

  1. Buy your own good rope. The ropes at your box are often not ideal. Not just in terms of quality but the length is also not customised to you. As a beginner we recommend you opt for a heavier rope. This enables you to feel the momentum.  Once you have mastered DUs, opt for a lighter more efficient rope. By then it's all about speed.
  2. Determination & Patience. I personally love DUs as it is a good example of how hard work, determination and patience can pay off.
  3. Practice. It's obvious. Want to master something? You need to practice outside your WOD. This applies to all things. A WOD is not the best time to practice technique or form.

Step 1 - Singles

Practice doing only singles. Focus on jumping high and slowing the rope down. Your spine should be straight and the jump should be initiated from the balls of your feet. The next day you should be feeling it in your calves. Read more tips.

Step 2 - Single, Single, Double

Practice doing Single, Single then one double. Single, Single, then one double etc.

Step 3 - Link the doubles together

Once you have mastered step 2. Then it's time to try to link the doubles together. The trick is to not change the rhythm. You're not going to last long going FULL STEAM ahead.

Step 4 - Practice post WOD

Once you've mastered linking your DUs a great tip given to me from my Crossfit coach is to practice them post WOD. By practicing them when you are exhausted, you mimic the feeling of doing DUs in a WOD.


Below is a summary of things I've learnt along the way. 

  • The spin is from your wrist, not your shoulders.
  • Keep you wrist down below the elbow.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides.
  • Your hands should be slightly in front of your body.  This helps to keep you balance and reduces the energy spent.
  • Transition – Jump high with pointed toes. Keep your body straight. Some people have a tendency to bend their knees.  When you land, land on the ball of your feet and not your heels.  I find it helps looking straight and not at the floor.
  • Slow down your rope. This is super important.  If you are running 100 miles an hour, it's no surprise you will run out of breath.
  • Relax and Breath. Focus on taking deep breaths. Relax as a rigid body will not help the cause.
  • Listen to the rhythm of your rope. It’s all about timing. Everyone has their own style however what helped me initially was consciously flicking the rope down at the highest point of my jump. Experiment to see what works best for you.

A bunch of videos I found useful

With Dan Bailey

From Chris Spealler

From Mikko Salo

From RX Ropes

Another great video from Kelly Starret


Doubles Unders are hard so be patient.  Some people get it quicker than others. For me, it took around 3 months.  The important thing is to stay focused and practice. Please feel free to comment with any addition tips. Everyone has their own style. Maybe your style may be a penny drop for someone else.


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