Peculiar Cues: Mastering the Jump Rope

Last week I must’ve done a dozen 1-on-1 skill sessions with athletes working on their double-unders. Before working on the double-under, I would ask them to first show me a few jump rope drills that demonstrate control with the jump rope (i.e. criss-crossing the feet, running in place, hopping on one foot, etc.)

Most of them were unsuccessful.

So then I pulled some of the athletes that have been here at RxFIT for a while and asked them to do these same drills. Surprisingly, the result was the same; they too were unsuccessful.

That was when I realized my flaw in workout programming.

Some of the best resources on interval training and the time course of training adaptations come from Dr. Stephen Seiler. He suggests that there are three “waves” of adaptation in fitness:

  • The first wave is increased maximal oxygen consumption. For jumping rope, this would look like successfully completing 150 single-unders.
  • The second is increased lactate threshold. This would look like being able to transition between fast and slow jump roping.
  • The third is increased efficiency. This would look like doing 150 double-unders in the middle of a workout.

At RxFIT, we are interested in maximizing first-wave adaptations and obtaining the second systemically through varied programming. Unless an athlete is in the black- and red-levels of our ranking system, we want to avoid completely third-wave adaptations.

If you read Seiler’s research, you will find that second- and third-wave adaptations are highly specific to the activity in which they are developed. In other words, these adaptations can be detrimental to the broad fitness that we advocate and develop (evidence being athletes who can do 150 double-unders but can’t do single-leg single-unders or jump rope while running in place).

So, how do you master the double-under? By mastering the basics. You’ll see more workouts from us in the near future that look like this:

Jump Rope

2 Sets @ :20 On / :10 Off

  • Slow Singles
  • Diagonal Straddle
  • Arm X’s
  • Sprint in Place
  • High-Knees
  • Butt-Kickers
  • Right-leg Only
  • Left-leg Only
  • Fast Single-Unders
  • Fast Double-Unders
  • Triple-Unders
  • Run in Place Forward & Back

Count your total number of mess-ups on the first set. Then beat it on your second set.


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