30 Day Challenge: Double Unders – A review

Approximately 30 days ago (no shit Sherlock), CrossFit London SE11 launched 5 challenges: 30 days to improve on . The options where Squat (led by Rachel), Thoracic mobility (by Chris), Ring Dip (by Carolyn), Handstand (by Kat) and Double Unders (by Colin).

My squats are pretty good and so are my ring dips. Thoracic mobility could always improve and so are my handstands (especially free standing ones), but I really suck at double unders so I signed up under Colin’s group and got to work. We started on singles which was great as I had a chance to feel what my body was doing and improve on my body positioning. My single unders improved massively as I was able to string more than 100 after the first week.

We then moved on to the power jump, still doing singles, to get a feel of how high you need to jump.
Once we’ve settled with that movement it was time to attempt doing a double under on the power jump. The key was to do ‘single-single-double’. I noticed that while I couldn’t go on with this pattern forever (I trip up before getting 10 doubles), all the effort on doing singles allowed me to reduce the variables and determine where I could be doing wrong. With the help of Magnus’ post, the emails from the support group and a face to face discussion and some rope fun with the gang, I was able to manage 20+ consecutive double unders! Hooray!

Apparently its all just about jumping and spinning the rope twice under the feet! Who knew?

Key points that worked for me:
1. Relax – especially the shoulders, knees and ankles. You need to be able to bounce like a spring.

2. Wrist movement – Biggest thing for me, after some thought and watching other people do doubles, I realized I was spinning my wrist in an arc rather than moving it in a line fast (a flick basically). It didn’t matter whether it was a vertical flick, horizontal flick or a weird figure-of-8. Minimizing the time to generate the force to whip the rope around seems to be the common theme there.

3. Slow the fuck down – contrary to the nature of double unders (quick rope speed) the slow power jump is essential to get enough clearance and time for the rope to go around twice. Intentional powerful jumps provide adequate time for your double under business.

Putting it all together requires a bit of imagination which worked with quite a few of the folks. To each their own, but my imagery is that of Tigger with his ‘boing… boing… boing’. In my head, I think ‘boing…flick-flick…boing…flick-flick…boing…flick-flick…’.

I have yet to test it out again and see how far I can go, but the last 30 days have been quite an eye opener. As Colin said, double unders are quite difficult to teach and I would agree. There is no one template that will magically give you this particular skill. But rather some practice plus a few tips here and there in a progressive manner does get you there.

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No WOD updates but…

While I did mention that I would be refraining from posting daily WOD updates, I never said anything about a general update on what’s happened. I’ll try to make the summary of the last month and a half quick… hopefully.

I managed to have some great improvements in my conditioning, although it’s still not where I want it to be . At least there’s progress. I’ve also managed to hit a PB on the clean (90kgs), and the clean and jerk (85kgs). I reckon I can do 90kgs on the clean and jerk. 100kgs still remains to be the ultimate goal. Also the 60kg snatches now ‘feel’ lighter and moving up in weight is definitely in the books at some point

I’ve attended a quick 2 hour seminar by Don McCauley when he visited London, and the technique he promotes helped me a lot and is close to my personal preference in lifting. I’ve also taken my CrossFit Level 1 Course and passed the test! I am now looking forward to learning as much as I can, hopefully with the help the crew of CrossFit London UK. I was privileged enough to assist in teaching their I-course one Sunday and it was an eye opener (from a trainer’s perspective) on how Andrew and Rachel teach a class of various skill levels. Socs also helped out in the WonderBar course and I believe she (and the rest) did pretty well.

It wasn’t all fun and games as I managed to injure my left shoulder somehow. But with the help of the foam roller and lacrosse ball (plus a massage session with Kate) it is on the mend. No load bear overhead for me for a few weeks, but I will be back with a vengeance.

I am currently in Riga, Latvia for business and will be travelling every week for the better part of a year. This is a bit of a blow to my aspirations of becoming a CrossFit trainer and a better athlete as I won’t be able to train with as much gusto if I was back in London (no affiliates here). I’ve skipped the hotel gym for the moment as I won’t be able to use the minimal weights they have (mostly dumbbells), given my injury, so I’m concentrating on bodyweight movements for now. I found a good list of workouts to do which should keep me busy for the moment. I might consider going through the Gymnastics WOD archive and work on some skills.

So let’s see what happens in the next few months…

Introspection

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything. A lot has happened since then and I’ve been doing some thinking.

I have not been mentally dialled in during my CrossFit class and it is showing in my performances with me having slowest times, relatively lower weight, and reduced workout intensity. It’s been a struggle. I don’t know what it is, but things lead me to believe that distractions and personal pressure is contributing to it. I have therefore decided not to post any WOD sessions/times for the meantime and concentrate on some ‘ME’ time. I have also decided to do at least 4 sessions a week and try to add supplementary work if possible.

I think I just need to get the blinders out and keep my head down and worry about what I need to do at that point in time. There are loads of things I need to sort out and I just need to sort them out. Simple as that. I should not be pressure or distracted by anything else. No daydreaming or wishing things to be something they are not, and just make lemonades out of lemons and that sort of shit.

Ouch! But I’ll live.

Another session at Crossfit London today, and for those who think that scaled workouts are a walk in the park, here’s what I brought home with me today after doing scaled pull-ups (i.e. less reps than originally prescribed and assisted by a blue band):

ouch!

Well, that’s one way to remove callus…

Skill of the week:  Handstands and Handstand Push ups; Progression: “Nose to Toes” and Handstand Push Ups with feet on the box
Skill: Double Unders
Strength: establish 1RM Snatch
WOD:
5 Rounds —
3 Hang Power Snatch (30 kgs)
6 Pull Ups (blue band)

My “nose to toes” are still not as close to the wall as they should be, but maybe if I practice my forward roll and learn how to bail out of it properly then it can improve.

On my snatch, I have finally lifted that 35 kgs again!  Having only done it once before, I have been doubting myself and even wondered if it really happened.  But today Kat had added the weight in without letting me see it — the idea that I should “just lift” and not think too much of the weight.  Result:  35 kg snatch!  She did add in a few more (37.5 kgs) but that didn’t quite happen.  A new snatch goal has been set!

The workout originally required 12 pull ups.  On my first round I was kipping the reps even with the band and I got called out for that.  So on my next reps, I could only string them into 2s and then just singles.  Even then it was a struggle to do them strict and with the proper height.  Hopefully my persistence tonight — and some continuous training —  I can add to my 1 pull up and improve on any next WODs with strict pull ups.  Finished 5 rounds at around 11:30 with blood on my hands, literally (see photo above).

Hobbled home after that,  and I was seriously walking funny and very slowly.  Did I mention that I still have a bad case of DOMs from Tuesday’s squats?

Death Post Resurrection

Coming from the long Easter weekend, I jumped straight into Crossfit today.  What do I get for (mostly) being inactive all weekend?  A killer metcon with one of my “favorites”:  running.  400 meters of it.

Skill of the week:  Handstands

Strength:  Clean and Jerk (max weight at 37.5 kgs)

WOD:

4 rounds of —
400m run
50 air squats

The workout seemed simple, but I knew the run would get to me.  My plan was to make up for it by making my squats as efficient (and fast!) as possible.  It was originally meant to be 6 rounds, but thankfully it was cut down to just 4 rounds, otherwise, I would have needed a full 30 minutes to finish it.  I completed it last in the class at 15:59.  I really must work on my running…