JRD Nation! Welcome back to the blog!
Today, we (Dan and Brandon) are going to take you through a step-by-step tutorial on how to do double unders – one of the most fun, effective, and recognizable jump rope tricks around.
If you’ve mastered the jump rope fundamentals (including posture, grip, and basic skipping patterns), and are looking to take your cardiovascular health to the next level, double unders are just what the doctor ordered. Before we begin, it’s important to recognize that learning double unders can be a rather frustrating experience, especially for beginners. In fact, of all the jump rope trick variations that we teach here at JRD, the double under tends to be the one that most frustrates our community members.
Not to fear! Our straightforward guide will simplify this trick and get you crushing double unders in no time. All it takes is a little be of patience, technique, and practice.
Alright! Let’s get started with today’s topic!
What Are Double Unders?
Ok, so what exactly do we mean when we say “double unders?”
Most jump rope trick variations and skipping patterns (like 95% of them) only require a single rotation of the jump rope. Double-unders, however, require that the rope rotates under your feet two times per jump. To successfully complete two full rope rotations with a single jump, you will need to jump higher than the one to two inches we typically recommend for most skipping patterns, and do so while also significantly increasing the rotational speed of your rope.
We will cover the mechanics of this trick shortly, but for now, it is essential to remember the following:
- Single under = one jump, one rope rotation.
- Double under = one jump, two rope rotations.
What Are the Benefits of Double Unders?
Double unders are so much more than a cool trick – they have the power to supercharge your workouts and fuel your fitness transformation.
As we have discussed many times on both the blog and the JRD YouTube Channel, jumping rope provides several impressive benefits – from improved mind-body coordination to increased bone density to better posture. With respect to the double under, there are three main health benefits that you will experience when incorporating this trick variation into your jump rope routine:
- Double-unders scorch fat.
- Double-unders help build muscular endurance.
- Double-unders improve cardiovascular health.
It is important to note that these three benefits overlap with the general benefits of jumping rope.
Given that we have covered all three benefits in detail in previous articles (including the scientific research relevant to each), we will not take a deep dive here. If you are interested in learning more about these and other jump rope benefits, we recommend checking out the video we embedded above, or reading the following two articles:
- The Top 10 Benefits of Jumping Rope (Mental and Physical)
- Jump Rope vs. Running: Which is a Better Workout?
Today’s key takeaway is this: you, and you alone, control the intensity of your jump rope workouts.
Whether or not you unlock the many amazing health benefits that double unders have to offer depends on the intensity level of your double under training. Performing a single double under won’t burn fat, build muscular endurance, or improve your heart health. For this reason, once you have mastered the double under, we recommend incorporating this trick into a HIIT workout routine designed to get your heart rate up and keep it up.
Also known as High-Intensity Interval Training, this type of training consists of short periods of intense exercise (to accelerate your heart rate), followed by intervals of less intense exercise or complete rest. A HIIT jump rope workout that focuses on double unders will burn more body fat than traditional steady-state cardio, keep your heart rate elevated for longer, and position you to take full advantage of the benefits described above.
Learn the Double Under in Three Simple Steps
Before we get into our three-step progression for mastering the double under, we want to highlight another factor crucial to achieving your fitness goals – a positive mindset.
You can only truly master the double under if you believe that you can do it. Simple as it may seem, achieving advanced jump rope skills (or any skills) requires the right frame of mind. If you have it in your head that something will be difficult or impossible, no amount of physical training will make up for a self-defeating attitude.
Convince yourself, right here and now, that double unders are not only possible for you, but they will become a core part of your jump rope routine. Only then can you begin training in a way that helps you get there. If you have been following us since the Zen Dude Fitness days, you know how much we (Dan and Brandon) believe in the power of mindset and meditation. We both regularly meditate, and this habit has helped us immensely in both our professional and personal lives.
To help get your mind right before learning the double under, we suggest you listen to this guided meditation from Brandon. This is a pre-workout meditation that was made for the specific purpose of improving jump rope workouts. Expect to get motivated, inspired, and excited to train as you perfect your double under form.
Step 1: Master the Jump Rope Regular Bounce
Ok, with mindset taken care of, it’s time to look at the first step of learning the double under: mastering the jump rope regular bounce.
Remember, jumping rope is a progression-based exercise. This means that you need to build a solid foundation before moving on to more advanced movements and trick variations. You have to walk before you can run, and conquering the double under depends on your ability to flawlessly perform the jump rope regular bounce.
As the jump rope’s most fundamental movement (aka the one from which all other trick variations flow), the regular bounce requires a single rope rotation per jump. To flawlessly execute the regular bounce with proper form, you will need to perfect the following elements:
- Keep your elbows tight to your sides.
- Use controlled wrist movements to rotate the rope.
- Jump with both feet together, knees slightly bent.
- Pass the rope under your body a single time.
- Land softly on the point between your toes and the balls of your feet.
There’s no need for excessive movement in your shoulders or elbows. With each landing, you should rebound and jump again without pausing. Keep your jump height steady, about one to two inches off the ground, and focus on controlling the pace of your jumps with a constant, even tempo. Note, Dan covers all of these elements in the video embedded above.
Before moving on to the next phase of our double under progression, you should be able to do at least five minutes of regular bounce without tripping over your rope or double hopping. Once you feel you have the stamina to maintain a regular bounce for several minutes, you’re ready to move to step two in the progression.
If you are struggling to learn the jump rope basics, we have a few resources that may prove helpful. First, we recommend that you read our ultimate beginner’s guide blog post. This post (which we updated in January 2022) will teach you everything you need to know about getting started with the jump rope – from measuring your rope to mastering regular bounce to preventing injury.
Next, if you need more hands-on coaching, we strongly suggest signing up for Jump Rope Dudes TV. Our new community platform, JRD TV offers live workouts, a coaching forum, daily jump rope routines, an immense workout catalog, and much more. JRD TV is designed to shorten the jump rope learning curve and provide our community members with a fun, engaging, and sustainable jump rope experience.
Check it out – you won’t regret it!
Step 2: Practice Rope-Less Power Jumps
A common double under misconception is that successfully pulling one off depends on the speed of the jump rope.
This is incorrect.
Yes, rope speed is important. However, our experience has taught us that the key to mastering the double under is a consistent, controlled, and explosive jump height. It doesn’t matter how fast you spin your rope, if you fail to provide enough space for rope clearance, will trip or get some nasty rope whip.
For this reason, step two of our double under progression requires us to ditch the rope and practice some power jumps.
Power jumps are rope-less explosive jumps of roughly four to six inches. In contrast, regular bounce calls for a max jump height of one to two inches. Practicing these jumps without the rope will allow you to hone your form and focus on technique. Your goal should be to explosively reach optimal jump height, return softly to the ground with a slight bend in your knees (effectively absorbing the impact of the landing), and explode again off the rebound into a continuous succession of power jumps.
In the image above, Dan is perfectly executing a rope-less power jump. Although yes, we do recognize that he is still, in fact, holding his rope in his hand (lol). See minute 1:52 of this video for a full demonstration of the exercise.
Once you have your power jumps under control, you should move on to a variation called penguin taps. A favorite of our friends over at Crossrope, this exercise will help prepare your wrists for the quick rope rotations that double unders demand. Penguin taps begin as a normal rope-less power jump, but once you are in the air, you will tap the sides of your thighs twice with your hands.
This tapping mimics the fast-twitch wrist rotation you will need to incorporate once you pick your rope back up and will help you improve the timing of your double unders.
Step 3: Put It All Together
The final phase of the JRD double under progression calls for you to pick your rope back up and give the trick a try.
Remember, timing and rhythm are key.
As you jump, you will need to quickly flick your wrists forward, swinging the rope hard for an explosive first rotation. After this first rotation, you must allow the rope’s momentum to carry it around your body for the second rotation. If you try to flick your wrists again, you will likely throw your timing off and trip. Be sure to keep your elbows tight, your back straight, and avoid flailing your arms. If you are looking to achieve your first double under, we suggest starting with a few minutes of regular bounce. This will help you develop a more comfortable cadence and build confidence before you attempt your first explosive jump.
For those community members who are already crushing double unders, we recommend that you test your skill-set with a double under challenge.
Dan does exactly that in the video embedded above, as he tries to complete 1,000 double unders as quickly as possible. Breaking his challenge down into 50 sets of 20 double unders, Dan completed 1,000 double unders in just under 30 minutes. Now, it’s important to remember that Dan is a double under OG. We are not suggesting that you attempt a 1,000 double under challenge if you are just learning the basics of this trick.
However, what we do suggest is you start small with a reasonable goal (perhaps 50 double unders), set a personal record, and then periodically try to beat that PR with a double under challenge.
Top Double Under Tips
There are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind as you practice your double unders. In this section, we will briefly highlight some top tips and best practices. It is important to note that most of what we cover here is not exclusive to double unders, but fundamental for all jump rope trick variations. Check out the video embedded above to see Brandon discuss a number of these tips.
- Keep your hands low at your waist with your arms extended as you jump. If your hands rise too far above your waist, you risk shortening the rope and tripping. If this feels awkward, practice without a rope.
- Keep your elbows tight at your sides with your hands out at a 45-degree angle from your body. No windmill arms! Keep your elbows tight to maintain optimal rope length.
- Focus on proper posture with your shoulders back, core tight, chest forward, and your upper body and arms relaxed.
- Better control your rope spins with a semicircle wrist movement. Listen for the sound that the rope makes as it hits the floor with each rotation. This auditory cue will help you develop consistency in your rope speed.
- Prevent hard landings by keeping your knees bent and landing on the point between your toes and the balls of your feet. This will go a long way in helping you avoid injury as you practice.
- Jump straight up and down and avoid falling prey to some of the most common form mistakes, including donkey kicks (kicking your feet out behind you), dolphin kicks (kicking your feet out in front of you), and tuck jumps (jumping too high with your knees to your chest).
Finally, remember that practice makes perfect!
The more time you put in now to learn double unders, the better results you will see long-term. Yes, learning the double under requires a lot of patience. However, with the right mindset and a little bit of discipline, the trick will very soon (sooner than you think!) become a staple of your jump rope routine.
What’s the Best Jump Rope for Double Unders?
The specific jump rope we recommend depends on where you are in your jump rope journey.
If you are just starting with the jump rope basics, we recommend getting your hands on a weighted jump rope from the market’s number one jump rope manufacturer, Crossrope. While this may sound counterintuitive, weighted ropes are ideal for learning the jump rope fundamentals. The added resistance slows down your rope rotations and provides you with amazing feedback to better time and coordinate your jumps.
We (Dan and Brandon) both mastered the art of the double under with the help of Crossrope’s Get Lean set.
This set comes with a 1/4 LB and 1/2 LB rope, as well as Crossrope’s much improved slim handles. We began by practicing proper form with the 1/4 LB rope, paying close attention to timing and how the rope responded to our wrist rotations. Once we felt confident in our form, we began incorporating the heavier 1/2 LB rope into our training, increasing our muscular endurance and taking our HIIT circuits to the next level.
Now, if you’re truly an advanced jumper and can easily run through a couple of hundred double unders at a time, we suggest giving the Crossrope’s Get Strong set a try.
This set comes with 1 LB and 2 LB ropes (plus some heavy-duty power handles) that will push your double under training to the limit. Once you can knock out a few clean double unders with the 2 LB rope, we recommend incorporating a few days of speed rope training into your fitness routine. But be warned – you are going to shatter your previous double under PR. If you want to learn more about Crossrope’s lighter jump rope options, check out our review of their ultra-light Speed LE set.
Get Out There and Crush Some Dubs!
Ok, dudes and dudettes, that wraps up our in-depth look on how to do double unders!
Remember, everything we covered today you can find on the JRD YouTube Channel. If you are still struggling to learn this essential jump rope skill, reach out to us directly on Instagram and Facebook. Let us know how we can help, and we will be happy to share some additional resources.
To close, we want to remind those readers new to the JRD community to sign up for our free 7-day jump rope challenge. This challenge is for anyone and everyone who wants to get into better shape, master the jump rope basics, and build momentum for a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.
DO THE THING!