March 24, 2011
SKILL: Front Squats
10 , 8 , 6 , 4 , 2 Front Squats(155/105lbs)
50,40,30,20,10 Double Unders
We learn rapidly in workouts like this one that if we don’t have our double unders we are bound to suffer through a long and frustrating workout. The thing about double unders is that the only way to improve them is by practicing them. Unlike other movements that you can build strength or speed or coordination in a way that can help in your success, double unders are the only thing that helps double unders. It’s an awful truth, but it is the truth none the less. People always groan when they see double unders in the workout. Maybe it’s time that we buck up and push through the discomfort and frustration and practice until we get them.
Crossfit Journal -September 16, 2009
The Chink In My Armor – by Greg Amundson
One of CrossFit’s top athletes learns a tough lesson when his poor command of double-unders costs him a trip to the Games.
“I have always been a true believer in the benefit of following the CrossFit main-site WODs. Sort of. Many of the CrossFit Santa Cruz athletes, such as Tony Budding, would often call me out for cherry-picking from the famous “girls.” It was common practice for me to test myself against the list of standard girls (such as Fran , Helen and Diana) on a weekly basis. I improved steadily in these specific workouts. However, it was clear to everyone—except for me—that I was avoiding the constantly varied component of CrossFit programming that is so critical to elite human performance. There was no way for me to find the chinks in my armor because I spent too much time in the comfort zone of my preferred CrossFit stimuli.”
He goes on to talk about nailing the first two workouts in the Qualifying Round.
“First up was Jackie. It played to my strengths and consisted of a 1000-meter row, 50 thrusters with 45 pounds and 30 pull-ups. I finished in 5:55. So far, so good—but not for long.”..
“The next workout I attempted was the 10-to-one triplet of cleans, chest-to-bar pull-ups and kettlebell swings. This was a tough WOD that completely taxed me. Although I had never attempted the workout before, it tended to play to my areas of strength in CrossFit conditioning. I finished in 11:36. I decided to spend the next two hours practicing the double-under before attempting the final workout.”
The third workout was Dead Lifts and double Unders. “I ripped through the deadlifts without any problems and then picked up the jump rope. I stumbled through the first 10 double-unders in a row before getting tripped up and missing a revolution. With a deep breath, I attempted to focus myself before starting on repetition 11. Then something amazing happened that astonished me, Mallee and Paul: I performed 33 double-unders in a row. That was 23 more than I had ever done before.
Then all hell broke loose. As I started my attempt for repe- tition 44, I failed. I tried again and failed. This continued for a painstaking full minute. It got to the point that I was unable to perform even a single accurate jump. It was horrible. I simply lacked the neurological connectors to get my body to co-ordinate the timing needed to achieve the skill. Perhaps through sheer luck, I was finally able to perform the remaining seven double-unders in a row.
As I lifted the barbell for my second set of 10 deadlifts, it felt like the weight had tripled. I struggled through the remaining two rounds of double-unders by forcing
myself to alternate between singles and doubles. Finally, after seven minutes and 20 seconds of sheer agony, I finished the workout.
Time to Practice
The first thing I did when I got home was purchase a new jump rope. Then I set off to learn how to double-under. It was a slow and frustrating process. Double-unders posed a different kind of challenge than hitting muscle failure on a max set of pull-ups. No amount of strength would help me now. It was evident that I had failed to venture into the critical fitness domains of accuracy, co-ordination, agility and balance. These fitness domains would require diligent practice and an awakening of a part of my brain and body that I had not yet explored. I was eager to learn the skill and excited about my potential to improve in areas of my fitness that had been dormant for years.
I needed to learn to relax through the skill, minimize the height of my jump and keep my hands close to my sides. My self-imposed rule was 10 double-unders in a row. If I missed an attempt, I would start over from the beginning. My first week averaged 15 minutes to complete five sets of 10. It was mentally and physically
exhausting and downright discouraging, but I felt myself making progress and started to gradually piece together the skill in my mind.
The jump rope was my constant companion. I added 10 jumps a week for three weeks. By my third week I was gaining a lot of confidence in the skill. I was able to consistently average 20 jumps in a row before I had a missed attempt.
I realized one day while practicing the skill that I had gone as far as I would physically. Further improvement would now depend on my mind and my ability to visualize success. For three days, I put the jump rope away and “performed” three sets of 50 double-unders in a row in my mind. The image was crystal clear, and I ensured my technique was perfect. With increased confidence, I then repeated the G3 workout that had cost me a trip to Aromas.
After four weeks of diligent practice, I took nearly three minutes off of my time. I made it through the workout with consistent double-unders and only four missed attempts. My time was 4:35. I was overjoyed at how far I had come, and I was determined to improve further.
Along the way I decided on two sub-goals that would help improve my double-under: I wanted to make 100 double-unders in a row and 150 in less than two minutes. I accomplished both goals on the same attempt, six weeks after my failed Games qualifier. I made 105 double-unders in a row and finished the remaining 45 on only one missed attempt. My time for the entire 150 was 1:45.
The time had come to repeat my last workout from The Warehouse. It was time to face off with G3 once again.”
Greg Completed the workout in 2min 59secs. He took 4min and 21 secs of his original time! Just goes to show you what hard work and determination can do for you!!!
“The lesson I learned from the approximately 15 minutes of despair during my first two attempts at the double- under workout was immense. By diving headfirst into my weakness, I was able to see substantial improvement not only in the substandard skill, but also in fitness domains and job-related skills that had otherwise seen the ceiling of improvement.
I also learned that having the courage to step outside of a predetermined comfort zone and tackle chinks in the armor is the best way to improve fitness at any level in the game.”
This is a true success story. Greg attacked his weakness and overcame it. How important is it for you to overcome your weaknesses? What are your goals?