Why Double Unders are the Ultimate Cardio Workout

Oct 14, 2023Jordan Lindstrom

Double unders are a favorite among athletes and fitness enthusiasts for good reason.

Stats show that a 150-pound person can burn up to 190-225 calories in just 10 minutes of performing double unders, which is equivalent to running at a pace of eight minutes per mile.

Double unders challenge the cardiovascular system too.

In this post, we'll explore why double unders are the ultimate cardio workout and provide tips on how to master this challenging exercise

What are Double Unders?

Double unders are a jump rope exercise where the rope passes under your feet twice during a single jump.

A double under jump is more explosive than a single jump. It requires greater skill, speed, and power. You should jump higher and spin the rope faster at the same time to complete a double under jump.

This is why the double under has become a core skill and movement in CrossFit workouts. While the standard most people think of is a simple jump with two spins, there are actually many variations of the double under. Here's a quick video primer.

Benefits of Double Unders for Cardio

Double unders are highly effective at boosting cardiovascular fitness.

A study published in the Journal of Sports Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants who incorporated jump rope exercises, including double unders, into their workout routines experienced an 11% improvement in cardiovascular endurance over six weeks. 

These improvements were comparable to those achieved with other traditional aerobic exercises, such as running and cycling.

Efficient Calorie Burning

One of the main goals of any cardio workout is to burn calories, and double unders are excellent for this.

According to Healthline, just 10 minutes of vigorous jump rope exercises like double unders can burn as many calories as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity jogging.

This efficiency makes double unders an excellent choice for those looking to maximize the calorie-burning potential of their cardio workouts.

Why Double Unders are the Ultimate Cardio Workout - Elite Jumps

Lower Impact on Joints

While traditional cardio exercises like running (see jump rope vs running for cardio) can significantly strain the joints, double unders are a lower-impact alternative that still provides an intense workout.

Research done by Sports Biomechanics suggests that jump rope exercises, including double unders, resulted in lower ground reaction forces than running. 

Increased Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variation in time between successive heartbeats and is associated with better cardiovascular health.

In a joint study, the Institute of Sport Science, Training and Movement Science, University of Mainz, found that participants who engaged in jump rope training, including double unders, experienced significant improvements in HRV compared to a control group.

Enhanced Oxygen Consumption

Double unders require both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, which leads to increased oxygen consumption.

Repeated research shows individuals who participate in high-intensity jump rope exercises, such as double unders, experience significant improvements in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) compared to those who engage in moderate-intensity jump rope exercises.

How to Master Double Unders

Good single unders are the key to good double unders, Start by consistently performing sets of single unders with good form and gradually increase the speed to prepare for the transition to double unders.

Proper Technique and Form

Proper technique can also give you a quick level up in learning double unders. 

Key elements of good double under form include:

  • Jumping on the balls of your feet
  • Keeping your hands close to your body and at waist level
  • Using your wrists to generate the rope's speed, not your arms
  • Maintaining a tight core and a straight back

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Jumping Too High: Focus on maintaining a consistent, low jump height, just enough to allow the rope to pass twice underneath your feet.
  • Kicking Feet Backward: Avoid "donkey kicks" by keeping your legs straight and maintaining a slight bounce in your knees.
  • Inconsistent Rope Speed: Practice maintaining a consistent rope speed, as fluctuations can disrupt the rhythm and timing of double unders.


See our guide for tips on common double under mistakes and how to fix them.

Tips for Improvement
  • Gradual Progression: Transition from single unders to double unders by incorporating "singles-doubles-singles" sets, where you perform one double under between single unders.
  • Use a Weighted Rope: Training with a slightly heavier rope can help improve your timing and control, as suggested by the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness Research.
  • Record and Analyze: Record videos of your double under attempts to identify areas for improvement and monitor your progress.

Final Thoughts

Double unders present a unique and engaging way to invigorate your cardio workouts and push your fitness boundaries.

Incorporating double unders into your fitness routine can help elevate your cardiovascular health, transform your fitness levels, and add an exciting as well as challenging dimension to your workouts.

So grab a jump rope that suits your form and skill level, and leap towards a healthier, more exciting cardio experience with double unders!


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