We have a wide variety of training techniques and tools at our disposal to enhance our workouts and maximize their training effects. The heavy rope is one such tool, which, if used correctly, offers a true cross-training effect with gains in strength, power and endurance.
In my opinion, a heavy rope workout has characteristics that make it unique and effective. For one thing, unlike fixed machines or bars, the rope offers constant dynamic feedback through subtle but continuous changes in length, tension and position, which require constant adjustment by the athlete. The thickness of the rope calls for a strong and consistent grip, effectively encouraging central stabilization from the trunk, through the shoulders and into the wrists and hands.
If you are familiar with my previous articles, you know that I advocate training the body as a system, or kinetic chain, instead of training in isolation and expecting global changes. In keeping with this approach, the heavy rope calls for a solid base, alignment and synchronized breathing to properly control, absorb and produce adequate power. If you lose your center of gravity or base of support through faulty or "disconnected alignment," you will stumble or fall forward. Like the Turkish Get-Up, yoga and other modalities, a heavy rope workout is a great way to promote the co-existance of controlled breathing and body alignment.
Finally, I believe a heavy rope workout offers a great risk-to-reward benefit, meaning the degree of improvement one can expect to gain in power, strength and endurance exceeds the potential for injury risk. With that said, there is still a need for appropriate screening, coaching and exercise progression when using the heavy rope. I feel better teaching athletes who may not have access to a strength coach to use the Heavy Rope Double Slam for lower-half ground force production, compared to a more conventional Power Clean. Are the two exercises exactly the same in execution or results? No. But a heavy rope workout can create an enhanced neutral load environment and yield positive results in strength, power and endurance that far exceed a training session lacking explosive movements altogether.
Below is a sample total-body heavy rope workout. Countless exercises can go into your program design, and this is by no means a complete program. But it is a great place to start using the heavy rope.
Heavy Rope Workout
Start with eight to 10 minutes of Foam Rolling.
Walking Lunges with Overhead Rope Lockout
Sets/Reps: 4x8 per side. The longer the rope gets, the more resistance you encounter during the Lunge, as well as enhanced grip demands in the overhead position.
Sets/Reps: 5x20. Total-body power incorporating both flexion and extension patterns.
Split Squat Jump with Diagonal Slams
Boat Sit with Drum Roll
Sets/Duration: 4x30 seconds.
Side Plank with One-Arm Slams
Sets/Reps: 4x10 per arm
Reverse-Grip Jumping Jacks
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