Double-unders are a jump-rope variation in which the rope passes under your feet twice per jump. A powerful conditioning tool, they ramp up your heart rate to improve cardiac output and endurance.
Double-unders also strengthen your feet, calves, quads, core, shoulders, and forearms — as well as help develop neurological adaptations, like balance, coordination, and agility.
Because they’re so taxing, and because they require just one piece of equipment and minimal space, double-unders are an efficient way to squeeze in a cardio workout.
“Dubs” are hard: You need a strong heart and efficient lungs to maintain the effort, strong calves and feet for a powerful jump, and quick wrists to spin the rope. And without some preexisting coordination, nailing even a single double-under can be impossible.
If you are new to double-unders or are struggling to string them together, a back-to-basics approach can be more helpful than whipping a rope around in frustration. Try the following steps to improve your double-under prowess.
How To Do the Double-Under
- Ensure your rope is the right length: When you stand with both feet on the middle of the rope, the handles should reach to about armpit height. Newbies will want a heavier rope for the feedback it gives each time it passes under your feet. More experienced jumpers may prefer a lighter rope with ball-bearing handles.
- Master the single-under. Get comfortable jumping with the rope passing under your feet once per jump. Land lightly, jump powerfully, and keep your breathing calm. Practice listening to the sound of the rope hitting the floor in front of you. Gradually work on jumping higher without changing anything else.
- Practice “penguin taps.” Set your rope aside. Jump into the air with your hands at your sides. With each jump, tap your hands twice against your legs. If you can’t tap twice before landing, work on gradually jumping higher and tapping faster. This will help you build coordination, wrist speed, and jumping power.
- Work your dubs. It’s unlikely that you will be able to do multiple double-unders in a row at the beginning. Some people swear by doing a few singles and interspersing a double into the mix, and gradually inverting the ratio. Others focus on nailing one double-under without any singles, then doing two, and so on.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead, listen and feel for the rope hitting the floor in front of your feet. Building this awareness will help improve your timing and accuracy.
- Engage your core to keep your torso stacked and prevent your ribs from flaring.
- Keep your elbows close to your body. If they start to move away, you’re effectively shortening the rope, which will cause you to have to kick your feet or risk tripping over the rope.
- Keep your feet directly under your body, toes pointed down and calves engaged. Initiate the jump from the balls of your feet.
This article originally appeared as “The Double-Under” in the September 2022 issue of Experience Life.