why I can do double-unders (and you can’t)
This is the sequel post to the one I posted last May, entitled “Why you (and I) can’t do double-unders”.
It is now March of the following year. And as you can see, there has been some plot development. After stringing 62 double-unders together few days ago, it appears that I no longer have a DUI – a double-unders impairment.
This was me in May of last year.
This is me today. [You can pick whether you envision me as a monkey or as a giraffe.]
It seems that everyone goes about it differently. Alec Blenis learned them in two days before the 14.1 Open workout. Must be nice to be a freak of nature (and I mean that in the most loving way possible – Hi, Alec!).
Let me let you in on SECRET TECHNIQUE that I used to learn this evasive skill.
I used double-unders as my warm-up – 10 minutes at the beginning of each workout.
Six times a week.
For about six months.
Now the deal was – I didn’t have to work on double-unders, if I didn’t want to. But I did have to jump rope.
In a sense, this was a very liberating way of learning double-unders, because I took any pressure out of it entirely. There was no pressure. There was just practice. Again, and again. And again. Slowly chipping away.
Realizations that I made along the way:
1. You can’t get angry at double-unders. It’s no use. They don’t care. And if you get pissed, they will win. Every. Single. Time. You will get your ass whooped. Literally.
2. Getting obsessed helps. Double-unders became my on the side pet project. I made a deal with myself – I will spend 10 minutes jumping rope before every single workout. That’s six workouts a week for about… six months.
3. Putting it on the back burner helps. Ok, this one may seem counterintuituve, especially given the last point. But, I promise these two points are not mutually exclusive. You can be obsessed about something for 10 minutes a day. And then forget about it entirely until the next day. Get obsessed. Then put it on a backburner.
4. It’s ok to quit. When I started, it seemed so hopeless that I wanted to give up every single time. And I did. In fact, I quit every day. After practicing for 10 minutes. And after they were up, I didn’t have to jump rope any more. Until the next workout, that is.
5. There are always side effects. Some positive side effects – I learned how to jump rope pretty well – we are talking one leg, two legs, cross-overs, side to side – I can pretty much dance with the damn thing now. Some negative – just ask my calves, and my forearms. I’m pretty sure I carry some permanent markage.
Using this magic technique, I was able to string a couple of double-unders together. Then nothing. For a while.
Then another couple. Then three. Then five. Then nothing. For a while. Like not a couple!
Then ten. And finally, over twenty. On that day, I threw the rope on the floor, and didn’t do double-unders for at least a month.
Using a very conservative estimate…
Let’s say that I was able to get in about 20 double-unders per practice. That puts me at 20 double unders x 6 times a week = 120 double-unders a week. About 480 double-unders a month. And just under 3,000 double-unders in the six months. Realistically, that number was probably closer to 5,000.
Today, I can do double-unders.
Months ago I told you why I could not do double-unders. Because I have not done enough double-unders.
I have now done enough.
5,000 reps. The magic number.
It’s funny how the simple math works.
Consider my best lifts right now – deadlift, squat. My worst lift – snatch. Of all the movements, the deadlift and the squat are the ones that I have done MOST NUMBER OF TIMES. Snatch? LEAST NUMBER OF TIMES.
Now notice, we are not talking about 10,000 hours here – the number of hours that was repeatedly quoted (and debunked here) to be required to be fucking awesome at something.
Here, we are talking about achieving that elusive “good enough”. Drilling the muscle memory into your body.
Instead, this is how most people attempt to learn double-unders:
Someone demonstrates the movement, and hands you the rope. You give it a try. Fail miserably. Give it another try. Whip yourself. Swear. Give it another try. Hit yourself in the face. Silently throw the rope on the ground, and walk out of the gym.
Trying to “learn” double-unders in the few minutes that you have in a CrossFit box, when they actually make it into the WOD few times a month is useless. It’s kind of like doing deadlifts for time. Oh, wait…
On to the next thing… I still cannot do kipping pull-ups. Wanna guess why?
That’s right. I haven’t done enough of them. And thus, as a challenge, I am forbidding myself to complain about kipping pull-ups until I do at least a 1,000. Challenge starts now. Feel free to join.
My current max for kipping pull-ups = 6. That’s a whole lot better than this time last year. Probably about 6 more. One of the bucket list items – do Fran as prescribed. That entails 21 pull-ups. I can dead hang about 12. 21 is not happening any time soon, therefore – need to learn how to kip.
And OMG, can you imagine what would happen if I practiced a 1,000 burpees? 5,000 burpees? Would burpees become effortless? [Sigh… No, they wouldn’t. Any Death Racer would tell you that burpees defy laws of nature.]
So you see, you can do double-unders (kipping pull-ups, handmade pizza dough, cute knitted hats) too. You just need to accumulate about 5,000 attempts or so. How long would it take you to do that?
So… I’m sorry to disappoint you. Part of me wishes I did, in fact, have a secret technique.
Maybe ask Alec?
And… until the magic dust is discovered, you are not allowed to whine until you get 5,000 reps in.
Your Favorite Slow Learner,