Double Under Desperation? Try This Tip!

My workout for the program I am currently following calls for me to include running in my WOD today. No way that is happening. Not because I hate running: it’s more a physical impossibility thing. I’ll be subbing double unders instead, which sometimes I do think I actually, genuinely, truly do hate. I feel that way much more infrequently these days, however, thanks to the tips I’m about to share. “Keep your arms in” and “spring don’t hop” are good, but they didn’t click for me. Likewise, yes, “relax” is the key… but YOU try to do it on purpose. As I do my double under in the garage today because the 3 feet of not-yet-cleared snow in my neighborhood demands it, i’ll be trying to remember two minor body-position alterations that have drastically improved my relationship with the dreaded DU.

It all started, really, back in 2011 just in time for the very first CrossFit Games Open.  Workout 1.1?  Double under.  Double under up in there all over the place left right up down and Sunday.  What?

That’s how I felt trying to apply the tips my well meaning friends were giving me to get the hang of this tricky-for-many move before we all went to face off against other NYC gyms over the weekend.  I alternated between striking a few together, getting too excited, and speeding up faster than I could jump, amassing impressive welts along the way, and struggling to avoid the “mule kick” (bringing your feet up behind you, towards your rear, wasting both time and energy) without defaulting to the “baby dolphin,” as one onlooker dubbed it, instead.  Most people refer to that one less zoologically, by the way, as “piking.”  I tried heavy ropes, light ropes, fat ropes, skinny ropes, short ones, long ones – everything.  The best I managed that season was to get 1-2 DU, alternated with single unders.  For years, true runs of double unders eluded me.  Then two summers ago I began following the CrossFit Invictus competition blog, and it was suddenly double under city.  I improved, and finally even managed a string of 50 unbroken – yes, I was excited.  I continued to spin in a circle and travel backwards while jumping, however, and I was very inconsistent.  Fast forward another year, and one day during a lunchtime workout somehow it clicked.  I was in the middle of a successful string of 50, and realized that I had 1) very consistently been keeping my line of sight, and therefore, my chest and shoulders, from dropping forward, and 2) glued my legs, ankles and feet together like I was trying to pretend to be a human pogo stick.

And it worked.  Actually, the “eyes and chest up” feature of the trick does, according to memory, also apply to the pogo stick.  I LOVED the pogo stick as a kid, and I wasn’t half bad at it.  I’m not 100% certain why actively holding my legs together while I jump does the trick, but I suspect that keeping the chest up corrects any funky balance that may have enabled the kicking or piking in the past, and actively keeping the legs together likewise inhibits letting them go crazy in ways that will only end in rope-lash.

So, if double unders guarantee you a 20+ minute WOD time like they often did for me, and the tips that have helped all your friends just are doing it for you – try the pogo stick approach.  You’d nothing to lose… unless you were counting on making it big on youtube with your baby dolphin impression, I suppose.

Happy jumping, stay warm!  I’ll be in my garage and you can bet the heater will be on.  For a long while I was so excited about the change of seasons (as opposed to the “hot or RAIN” you get in Georgia) that I was almost kind of even enjoying being cold.  yet suddenly I am somehow completely, inexplicably done with winter.  Ok, perhaps very explicably.  I want sunshine, I want birdsong, I want weather that makes it safe and comfortable to wear shoes that expose my toes.  My toes, man, they’re suffocating!

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