Climbing the rope is an essential movement skill to have. It’s a true testament to overall physical fitness and condition. Learning it requires some time and physical readiness. This article will give you useful training tips on utilizing the rope as a training tool in your home or gym workouts. Suppose your goal is to climb the rope. In that case, the demonstrated exercises will give you the level of strength to reach this skill safely without unnecessary injuries. The activities can also be used as a total body workout. The only thing you need is a good quality climbing rope and a safe attachment.
These exercises train the body as a unit in a complex and challenging way. That’s why it has been so popular in the preparation of martial artists and tactical athletes. The movements will develop your whole upper body (grip, forearms, arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs).
The benefits of rope gripping versus handles
Exercising with the rope is a primal form of exercise. All of the practices are involved grabbing the rope hard instead of a comfortable handle grip with regular dumbbells, cables, and machines. With the rope exercises, the grip strength will change dramatically, resulting in several benefits to the athlete besides the iron grip. Grip strength relates to healthy shoulder integrity and stability and the neuromuscular activation of the whole trunk and arms. The stronger the grip with an activity, the more it activates the shoulder joint’s stabilizers (rotator cuff). Firmer gripping will increase the neural drive in the synergistic muscles in the arm and the trunk. The high level of grip strength required for these exercises will increase the whole upper body’s strength and stability.
Let’s start training with the rope.
Rope climbing requires a basic level of strength and healthy joints. Especially the shoulders, elbows, and wrists will be under great stress. If you have past injuries in any of these areas, make sure to get evaluated by your health professional.
Before you start with the beginner level exercises, make sure you do a warm-up. The warm-up should include cardiovascular warm-up (5-10 min), mobility, and dynamic warm-up drills with particular attention to the rotator cuff (5-10min).
In the first video, I will demonstrate a couple of beginner-intermediate level exercises. Practice them enough before you move on to the more advanced drills.
The exercises are in the following order:
- Arm Extension
- Rope Plank Roll-Out
- Rope Plank Hold
- Rope Rows
1. Arm Extension
This looks similar to the standing or overhead triceps extensions. Still, it also requires core stability and joint stability in the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, making this exercise far more complex. Make sure you have a strong grip on the rope, and don’t bend your wrists. Keep your core tight during the whole movement. Start the exercise with a higher angle and move your way down as you get stronger. Make sure you alternate your grips with the consecutive sets.
Beginners sets/reps 2×5-10 Intermediate sets/reps 3×15
2. Rope plank rollout
Have a strong grip on the rope and slowly lean forward as you constantly keep your core and upper body tight. In the beginning, don’t lean forward more than 45 degrees.
Beginners 2×3-5 Intermediate 3×10
3. Rope plank hold
Have a firm grip on the rope with both hands, lean forward to 45 degrees or less, and hold the position. Keep your core, the glutes, and the whole upper body tight.
Beginners: sets/duration 3×10-15 Intermediate 3×60
4. Rope rows
Standing sideways to the rope, hold it with the outside arm higher, and position yourself at a 45-degree angle. Slowly pull yourself up, squeeze your shoulders back at the end of the pull, and then slowly extend your arms. Repeat the motion. Always do this exercise on both sides of your body. As you get stronger, you can go and hold the rope in lower positions.
Beginners 3×5 per left and right side as well. Intermediate 3×10
Sets reps and rest periods
Start with a repetition range where you can safely execute the exercises with proper form under control. Move to the next activity after you finished the 3rd set per exercise. If you are a beginner, do these exercises in consecutive order and rest 1 minute between them. You can also decrease the rest periods between the sets to 45, 30, and 20 seconds as your conditioning level increases.
As you get more vital, try doing the exercises in a circuit where you perform the activities one after the other with no rest between and repeat the course 2 to 5 times/rounds with 90 seconds rest between each circuit. You can increase the number of circuits every week. After you developed proficiency in these basic rope exercises, you can move to the more advanced ones presented in the second video.
The exercises are in the following order:
- Assisted Rope-Climbing
- Rope Pull-Up
- Hanging L-sit Leg-Extension
- Hanging Leg-Raise
- Rope Hanging
- Rope Eccentric Lowering
- Rope Plank-Walk
- One arm Pull-Up
1. Assisted Rope-Climbing
From a sitting position, hold the rope pulling it towards your chest, and extend your body with both of your feet firmly on the ground. Start climbing upward by pulling yourself with your arms. After you pulled yourself up to a standing position, climb back down to the starting position. Aim to do it 5 times up and down, then rest for 60 or 30 seconds.
2. Rope Pull-Ups
Extend your arms over your head with one arm fully extended and the other in 90 degrees in the elbow. Grab the rope, pull yourself up, andlower your body to the starting position under control.
Sets/Reps: 3×5 Left/Right Side
3. Hanging L-Sit Leg-Extension
With a strong grip, hold the rope over your head with one hand under the other and lift up your legs straight, so your body forms an L shape. Flex both of your legs and extend them. Alternate the grip in each set.
4. Hanging Leg-Raises
Hold the rope with extended arms just as you did with the previous exercise and raise both of your legs up to 90 degrees. With each set, alternate the hand positions.
5. Rope Hanging
After performing a full pull up on the rope holding the position. Start with 10 seconds and work your way up to 30 seconds with time. Perform 4 sets with 60 seconds rest between.
Sets/Duration: 4×10-30 sec.
6. Rope Eccentric Lowering
Hold the rope over your head with extended arms. With the help of your legs, hop-up and pull yourself up, then slowly lower yourself to the starting position. Alternate your grips.
7. Rope Plank-Walk
Hold the rope leaning forward to a 45-degree angle. Slowly climb down and up on the rope while maintaining your core tight during the whole movement. At the bottom, you can pause and hold as a plank hold exercise.
8. One arm Pull-Up
Hold the rope with one arm in an incline position. Pull yourself up, then lower your body to the starting position. Keep your trunk and core muscles engaged the whole time. Perform 5 reps with your right and left arm as well in 3 sets.
Sets/Reps: 3×5 Right/Left Side
Incorporating the climbing rope exercises into your training program will benefit you tremendously. It develops your neuromuscular efficiency, strength, balance agility coordination, muscular-endurance core, and joint stability, and your brain. An elemental form of training practicing regularly will give you a unique movement arsenal that serves your overall health and well being.
Get that rope right now!