What are Double Unders

 

Skipping is one of the most effective, fat-burning workouts that you can do, and it is one of the cheapest ways to target the full body which will improve your speed, power, endurance, and coordination. It is a great alternative to traditional cardio on machines such as the treadmill and the cross-trainer.

 

Double unders is a skill within skipping where you would jump higher than normal while swinging the rope twice under your feet, in other words, you would spin the rope around twice per jump. This is an impressive skill that displays speed and coordination.  Note that you will need to already know how to skip before you begin practicing for this move, but don’t worry if you can’t because this article will demonstrate how to skip for beginners!

Research suggests that jump rope exercise is an effective method of training to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is a cheap and easily accessible method of aerobic training that has positive health implications for CVD prevention.

What Muscles are Worked by Double Unders

Double unders is a full-body workout that recruits your core to stabilize the body, especially the legs for jumping and your shoulders and arms for swinging the rope. The primary muscles worked are the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, obliques, deltoids, and wrist extensors. The secondary muscles worked are the latissimus dorsi, biceps, forearms,  and trapezius.

What Level is Double Unders

Double unders is an intermediate-level exercise as you are required to be comfortable with doing single unders at around 150-200 jumps without breaking. However, skipping is easy and fun to do, imagine the feeling of learning how to ride a bike, it seems impossible at first until you do it the first them, then it all clicks - the same principle applies! 

How to do Double Unders

As mentioned earlier, you will need to know how to skip, or in other words, perform single unders comfortably before attempting double unders. But, if you are excited to get your skipping journey underway, you will need to know the fundamentals of how to jump rope before you move on to the advanced skills, as the saying goes… you can’t run, if you can’t walk!

The fundamentals are:

  • Optimal rope length - Step on the middle of the rope to pull up the handles together. The rope should be approximately underneath your armpits, this is the ideal length.
  • Grip and hand position - Hold the rope using an underhand grip and around hip height 
  • Knees bent - Always have your knees bent to cushion the jump. Do not lock your knees out or bend your knees too low.
  • On your toes - You should never jump rope flat-footed, so always be on your toes the entire time! Your feet should never jump higher than 2 inches.
  • Spinning the rope - Jumping rope is all about doing less, your wrists should be the main focus. Spin your wrists forward and the feet will follow. The shoulders and elbows have minimal movement. Everything is controlled by your wrists.
  • Practice - Practice skipping every day for 3-5 minutes to get familiarized with the fundamentals.

Once you are comfortable with doing single unders, you can progress to more advanced skill such as the double unders. The key is to stick to the 6 fundamentals mentioned earlier, with a twist, which is jumping a little higher. To perform this you will:

  • Start with a big single under, where you would jump twice as high as you normally would, so a range between 4-6 inches in height would be ideal. 
  • After a couple of big single unders, you can go for one double under attempt. Remember that everything is controlled with your forearms and wrists. Swing the rope hard and fast once and let the momentum of the rope carry it through towards the second time. Focus on one swing!
  • Once you’ve achieved your first double under, your aim is to keep the rope spinning by doing single unders. For example 5 single unders, followed by 1 double under. Repeat this sequence between 2-3 times in a single set.
  • At this stage, you should be comfortable with performing one double under after every few single unders. The next step for you is to reduce the gap between the two. For example, 4 single unders followed by 1 double under. Gradually reduce this to 1 single and one double under! 
  • You are nearly there! At this point, you will go for unbroken double unders. First, aim for two double unders, then three, then 4, etc.

Double Unders Workout

Now you know how to perform the single unders, and the double unders, The key to getting better through trial and error, which means practicing more. Below are workout examples that you can follow to develop a quicker and efficient double unders. 

Workout 1: 10 x 10 -This means doing ten reps of double unders in a row, unbroken for 10 reps. This will be a total of 100 reps. The set will count only if you achieve 10 double unders in a row. 

Workout 2: Intervals - You will do single unders for 1 minute followed by doing 10-20 double unders. Repeat this sequence 2-3 times in a single set. 

Workout 3: 500 double unders - Aim to do 500 double unders as fast as you can with no time limit. Time yourself and it is guaranteed that the difference in time completed between your first and third attempt will be huge! Once this is done, you should gradually increase your aim to 800, then to 1000 double unders.

 

Double Unders Variations

Side Swing

Adding variation into your skipping set will increase the intensity, along with making you more impressive. The side swing is an easy skill that you should learn to improve the flow of your skipping. To perform this you will:

  1. Perform single unders.
  2. Twirl rope to your right side, keeping hands and feet close together.
  3. Repeat on the left side, and alternate between twirling the rope side to side.

Straddle

This variation requires you to spread your legs whilst performing single unders. This will improve your hands and feet coordination as both will have to sync simultaneously for this skill to flow in your jumping sequence. To perform this, you will:

  1. Perform single unders.
  2. Jump to a straddle position by spreading your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Return to basic bounce with feet close together. 
  4. Repeat.

Crossover

The crossover is an intermediate-level skill that displays excellent body control. This variation will improve your foot speed and hand coordination. To perform this, you will:

  1. Perform single unders.
  2. Cross right arm over left in front of your body whilst in mid-air, and jump through the loop.
  3. Bring your arms back to your sides and continue jumping.
  4. Repeat.

Double Unders Benefits

Improve Cardiovascular Health

Skipping is a form of cardio training that can be a great alternative to running, walking, cycling, or swimming. It will get your heart rate pumping and your body warmed as almost every muscle group is being worked. You can skip at a higher intensity by increasing the speed at which you skip, or by adding variations such as the double unders or the cross over.  Regular cardiovascular exercise can reduce the incidence of and mortality from coronary artery disease, and is beneficial to weight loss.

Improve Coordination and Balance

Jump rope develops your coordination by demanding several body parts to communicate and work simultaneously to complete one jump. Your feet must be in sync with your wrist rotation to perform a continuous jumping motion. Skipping is highly utilized in boxing because it improves the athlete’s footwork. The repetitive motion helps them to stay light on their feet to move around an opponent in the ring. 

Full Body Workout 

Skipping is a full-body workout that targets various muscle groups within the body. This includes your abdominals to stabilize the body, to keep the torso upright, legs for jumping, and the wrists, forearms, and shoulders to spin the rotation. Regular skipping improves muscle tone in the upper and lower body! 

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.