Nothing reduces a room full of experienced crossfitters to obscenity laden tantrums like a heavy dose of double unders. I’m no different.

WOD for Thursday 012413
Double Unders
Practice, drills, practice, drills

Coach Erin put us through a cycle of double under warm ups and then a tabata work out of 20 second single unders, 20 seconds alternating single and double unders, then 20 seconds of double unders. This went reasonably well. I was surprised. I’ve used that alternating single under/double under drill in the past to learn how to transition to all double unders. But I haven’t practiced it in quite some time and of the 3 sets required, it’s the one I found most difficult today. I could do singles uninterrupted. My doubles were reasonably smooth, by my personal standards. But trying to control the rope after accelerating it for doubles and pull it back down for a single proved to be too challenging this morning.

On the minute, for 12 minutes:
Odd minutes: 3 Power Cleans (80% 1RM)
Even minutes: 40 Double Unders

I looked at this one Thursday night and thought, “What the hell? Why not? I need the practice.”

I did the power cleans at 155# which is right in the vicinity of 80% of my 1RM. They were uneventful.

Double unders were a bit dramatic. I didn’t complete each round of 40. My sets went 40, 37, 24, 40, 37, 40.

There were lots of runs of 3-5. There were a couple of runs of 10-12. One run of 25 reps in the first set.

I was pleased in that my form actually seemed to improve in the last 2 sets. The 2nd and 3rd sets, were really rough. I was donkey kicking and floating my hands well out away from my side.

From the fourth round on I was able to maintain better hand position. The 5th and 6th rounds I was very pleased with my overall body position. Looking back now, I kind of wish there had been an additional set. Of course, in the moment it didn’t occur to me to try one more round for grins and giggles.

I was positioned on one side of the box for this METCON facing into the room. This meant I had a view of most of the other folks exercising this morning. It was obvious that I wasn’t the only one swearing not quite under my breath and occasionally throwing the rope to the floor with extreme prejudice at the end of a round. It was comforting to know I wasn’t struggling alone.

In theory double unders are an amazingly simple thing. Jump once and pass the rope under your feet twice. That’s it.

It shouldn’t be as hard as we all seem to make it. For many athletes double unders are not that tough. However, I was in a room of 10 people today. The majority of them crossfitting at least as long as I have, several of them longer, and many of them were struggling too.

I wont’ speak for anyone else, but I know why it bothers me so much. I get these thoughts running through my head, “It shouldn’t be THIS hard. For God’s sake! I can bench press my bodyweight, back squat 300#, and deadlift close to 400#, but I can’t make this stupid F*****G rope go under my feet twice per jump repeatedly? GAH!” But all of that relative strength has nothing to do with jumping a rope.

There is one thing I would like to try. I’ve got to get Bruce Springsteen’s “Shackled and Drawn” on a playlist and figure out how to secure an iPod for double unders. That tune has a great steady easy to pick up rhythm that I believe would serve as a great metronome. I tried singning the song to myself today, but kept accelerating as the sets progressed.

As frustrating as double unders can be, I really do appreciate the chance to focus on them for the day and really work on them. So in that respect, today was a really good WOD.

After the METCON, there was ample time for extra work so I did 3 sets of 10 toes to bars. I’m getting to a tricky place with these. I can do multiple sets of 10 which makes me want to say I’m getting better at them, but I know I’m not. I’m doing the inverse of what Coach Erin taught us earlier this week. She specifically pointed out that I should be closing my body and raising my toes to the bar as my body swings backward. She likens it to a clam shell closing.

I’m doing the exact opposite. I’m initiating a kip swinging back and then as my shoulders and body come forward, I’m using that momentum to swing my self and close myself up to bring my toes to the bar. It works for me right now, but I think I can see how I’m probably getting into a bad habit here. We’ll see.