When a CrossFit athlete thinks about skipping rope movements, he tends to visualize double-unders.
World Jump Rope Champion Shane Winsor does not. This is because double-unders aren’t part of the sport of Jump Rope, explained Winsor, who got involved in the sport of jump rope in 1997 when he was just 9 years old and now spends his time hosting skipping seminars and offering tips to CrossFit athletes eager to become more efficient with a jump rope with RPM Fitness.
“We don’t compete double-unders (in our routines). We sometimes just use them as a training skill or warm-up drill,” said Winsor. Instead, the focuses of his sport include speed, creativity, difficulty and execution with a jump rope.
With Shane's experience and prowess with the speed rope, he is able to easily control and dictate how he uses it. This includes being able to fine tune the classic double-under to turn it from hard work into rest periods... Just in time for the 2016 CrossFit Games Open.
Check out this video of Winsor working his magic with a rope, including an attempt at max double-unders in one minute. He's not even breathing heavy when finished. How the hell...?
Why You Need to Improve Your Efficiency
Every year since the inception of the annual CrossFit Games Open competition, one workout has featured double-unders, and usually in a big way—meaning if you’re inefficient or can’t do them well under fatigue, you’re likely going to have problems.
As we all figured out pretty quickly when we first learned double-unders, it’s one thing to be able to string them together; it’s another thing entirely to be able to do them efficiently. The most efficient athletes aren't phased by them, while the inefficient ones find themselves gassed, unable to keep up any kind of intensity because their heart rate is pumping at 180-plus beats a minute - Say bye to that regional spot.
If you’re in the latter camp—and found yourself too winded to even consider getting on the rings after 100 double-unders in last year’s 15.3 Open workout—until you rested at least a minute to get your heartrate below 170 —it’s time to learn efficiency... read on!
Bozman had to wait for the answer to his proposal until Marcus Hendren had finished his double-unders.
How to turn Double Unders Into "Rest"
Becoming efficient involves learning how to control and adapt both the speed of your double-unders, your jump height, and also your breathing.
“Lots of people think double-unders need to be a fast, muscled movement,” said Winsor. Over the course of an 18-year career, which included many national titles and two world championships titles, Winsor learned this isn’t the case.
“If anything, though, we should be feeling it in our forearms first,” as opposed to your lungs, he added.
While most people focus on jumping as little as possible, this isn’t always the most effective way to keep your heartrate down, especially when you’re just learning to be more efficient, Winsor explained. If you’re trying to control and lower your heart rate while jumping, the key is to slow down the rate of your double-unders, which can be achieved by jumping a little higher. This in turn will actually lower your energy expenditure
“Sometimes you might want to jump higher if it’s more efficient and helps your breathing,” Winsor said. “The higher I jump, the slower my double-under will be, and the slower my wrists will move.”
Breathing is the second key point to efficiency.
“A lot of people hold their breath. They get stressed and forget to breathe,” Winsor said. “I always tell people to bring their forehead down and let their cheeks be giggly when they’re jumping.”
He added: “If your face is tense, that’s going to translate to the rest of your body.”
CrossFit athletes often tell Winsor they have been coached to breathe in for three double-unders, then out for three reps. He doesn’t think this is necessarily the best advice.
“Sometimes this just means you’re breathing three times as fast as you need to,” Winsor said. It’s more important to ensure you’re not holding your breath, he added.
Things to try:
1. Jump higher and slow down your double-unders when you need to recover
2. Maintain nice easy breathing throughout
TIP: If you feel a burn in your forearms before your shoulder or lungs you're on the right path
Just for fun: Speed Double-Under Challenge
One of the events in the sport of jump rope includes a speed event.
The sport of jump rope is a bit like gymnastics. A panel of judges give the athletes a score during both speed and freestyle events. Speed events are 30 seconds long, while freestyle events are either one minute or three minutes and include required elements, as well as they expect the athlete to be creative and include his own unique elements. The final type of event is a team event—a double dutch event with four athletes—all of whom jump for 30 seconds.
Winsor suggests that once you master the ability to be efficient with your double-unders—and gain the ability to speed up and slow down your pace in order to manage your heartrate—you should test yourself to see how long it takes you to do 100 double-unders—the goal being unbroken.
Generally, CrossFit athletes report it takes about one minute to complete 100 unbroken double-unders. From a jump rope athlete’s perspective, one minute is a relatively slow speed for 100 unbroken double-unders. Once you’re able to do 100 unbroken in one minute, try to speed up your pace and see if you can do 100 at a medium pace in under 50 seconds, Winsor challenges.
And once that becomes doable and you can do it without feeling gassed, see if you can keep up with Winsor: His 100 double-unders: A smoking-fast 35 seconds!
Unlike double unders, triple-unders do find their way into jump rope athletes’ routines. And people have been predicting for years that they will show up at Regionals or the CrossFit Games. It might only be a matter of time until they do, so if you’re a competitive CrossFit athlete, you might as well learn them!
Once you master double-under efficiency and speed double-unders, start working on stringing triple-unders together. Piece of advice: Focus on quickening your wrist speed.
Winsor’s best unbroken triple-under number: 300!!