Tips For a Perfect Double Under

While normal skipping or rope jumping is fairly trivial (for some people), the double under is a sick VO2 maximizer and is also crazy difficult. For anyone who doesn’t know what a double under is, it’s when the skipping rope passes around you twice in one skip. I have a demo here, where I performed 105 consecutive double unders and then almost died (which is why I thought the title, “Death by Double Unders” was appropriate).
So if you are one of the many, many people who struggle with the double under, but are interested in perfecting it, I thought I’d share a few tips.
1) It’s all in the wrist. When most people begin double unders, they figure that in order to get the rope around twice, they need to jump higher. This is partly true, but if you’re doing a tuck jump and your knees are bending significantly, you’re doing it wrong. Instead of jumping super high, try to flick the rope around faster with your wrists. This does not mean be spastic with the arms. The motion is primarily a forearm through wrist motion. Try not to do the tuck jump. Jump as you normally would (more or less) when you do singles.
2) Timing is key. Again, you want to avoid jumping too high. The first revolution should occur during the upwards motion of your hop and the second revolution will occur in the downwards motion, a fraction of a second before the rope skims the ground.
3) Use a good rope. Unless you’re really comfortable with double unders, don’t use a non-plastic rope. Classic rope moves slowly and is far more difficult to flick around twice. Use a plastic rope with handles that aren’t physically attached to the rope. The handles will stay static when you’re skipping. Make sure that the rope moves well within the handles. Otherwise you will end up with a twisted rope and double unders will be nearly impossible.
4) Do not tense up too much. Many people do this when performing double unders. Their necks and shoulders completely tense up. It’s difficult to avoid, but try and keep things loose. Otherwise you will throw off your breathing and circulation. Given that double unders require significant aerobic work, you need your Krebs cycle working as efficiently as possible.

Hopefully those few points will help you out towards attaining a perfect double under!

Hang Clean Lunge Combo

Tonight I did a quick workout consisting of 5 rounds of 10 hang clean lunge combos, 10 handstand push-ups and a muscle-up into 5 ring dips. I didn’t go all out on intensity and instead took it a little easier than usual. However, I thought that the hang clean to lunge combination was a great full body exercise. It really gets the quads and hamstrings. Tonight I went with only a 75lb bar, but it could easily be scaled up (or down) as necessary.

Check it out here:

Lunge tip: kiss the ground with the knee; keep weight nicely distributed over both front and back feet; initiate the push back up with the front heel.

WOD Timer v0.1

Interval training is huge. It’s a fantastic way to increase the efficiency of a workout and develop increased cardiorespiratory ability and work on metabolic conditioning.

Unfortunately, intervals can be somewhat difficult to time. This is especially the case when you don’t have someone dedicated to be the official “time keeper” for a workout.

In programs such as Crossfit, for example, a workout like the infamous “Fight Gone Bad” requires numerous rounds of numerous sets of intervals. Using a wrist watch or normal digital timer is not necessarily an effective way to time the workout, even when someone is the designated timer.

I figured that having some sort of automated timer would be super nice to have. So I decided to experiment a bit and came up with the WOD Timer.

This is my first Adobe Flex app, so despite the seeming simplicity of the concept, creating this thing admittedly took a while. At the moment it’s in “beta”, but the feature list includes:

  • Standard timer
  • Countdown timer
  • Setup and execute intervals
  • Audio notifications of interval and countdown events
  • Pause timer by any key press
  • Simple, intuitive interface

I’m looking at future enhancements to include things like,

  • Background music streaming (possible support for XSPF)
  • WOD presets (for programming such as Crossfit)
  • Full-screen support

Some feedback on what you would think would be good features for a WOD timer would be appreciated. Let me know in the comments!

WOD Timer - The Interval Timer - Main Menu

105 Consecutive Double Unders (Death by Double Unders)

Well, cross one goal off the list.  I had originally planned to have “break 100 consecutive double unders” as one of my 2009 goals.  I had decided to get on the ball and accomplish this one before the end of 2008.  Since my previous PR was just over 90, this was some fairly low hanging fruit for me (I should really have made it “break 200 double unders”).

The secret of being able to work up to some high numbers when it comes to double unders is to keep the jump low - get the rope fast under you twice rather than trying to clear a fence in a tuck jump.

Another “secret” is to keep breathing.  This is something that I failed to do and at around the 105 mark, I started almost blacking out.  Hence the face plant at the end of the vid…  doh…

Charles Poliquin’s Take on Crossfit

In the December “Question of Strength” article on T-Nation, Charles Polquin discusses his view of Crossfit.  He gives 6 reasons why he “can’t recommend CrossFit training, especially for those seeking the highest levels of athletic performance”.

Polquin is a World respected Canadian strength training coach who has trained and/or consulted numerous world class athletes and professional sports teams.  His views of Crossfit are well stated in this article, but unfortunately his criticisms are nothing new and have been disputed many times in the past.

One of Polquin’s main arguments is that Crossfit utilizes high rep workouts with Olympic lifts which means that form and technique are lost and that oly lifts are best suited to low rep sets where explosive powere can be maximized.  He says,

Crossfit vs p90x vs Kettlebells

A conversation recently came up over at twitfitter on the relative differences of Crossfit and other newish intensity based fitness programs (like p90x and kettlebells) and whether or not fitness programs like Crossfit will take over the globo gym and behind the back wrist curls will become a thing of the past or perhaps they’re just a fad.

I took the position of Crossfit being superior to the others and took a quick jab at curls in general being an inefficient exercise.

I thought the conversation was pretty good.  See for yourself over at twitfitter, here.