One of the most popular fitness tools going is the thick rope. You’ve seen everyone from professional athletes to kids and even weekend warriors using them in exercise classes and sports specific training.
But does thick rope training really work? I sense another Fitness Fact Or Fiction coming along!
The answer is simple – HECK YEAH! Let me tell you, grab a set of rope ends and perform some slams, windmills, chops, whips or any one of the hundreds of variations of endless exercises and you’ll quickly see how effective this style of training really is.
For one, due to the actual thickness of the rope many of the hand and forearm muscles responsible for grip get a great workout. If you want grip strength like a vice-grip, try using the ropes. Grip strength is often a weakness in many trainees and using a rope helps to bring this area up to it’s full potential. Plus don’t think that rope training is just for swinging or ‘battling’ the rope when affixed to the ground. You can perform pull-ups with a thick rope and use them in virtually any movement to develop superior, dynamic strength. In the gym we often pick up weights that have nice, flat, easy to grab handles, but in real life that isn’t the case.
The most common uses are whipping the rope or battling with it, which is like undulating the rope and creating ripples or waves that flow towards the anchor point. This is an awesome upper body, shoulder and core-conditioning workout. In fact 30 – 60 seconds of rope battling will leave you breathless, as it’s also an awesome cardiovascular conditioning tool.
So what are the real benefits or using a rope? Well, how about muscle building! Due to the unconventional nature and full body dynamic use that rope training requires, you’ll tap into muscle fibers and work areas that simply are unused in most traditional exercises. You can also increase your agility and power output. This is especially true when performing rope slams and explosively performing the rope movements. And increased endurance can’t be overlooked either. A few rounds on the rope will help you build stamina and conditioning.
So as you can see I’m a fan. But where do you start? Let’s first talk basics. There are two popular diameter ropes available and each equates to a different weight. Remember that as you pick the rope up off the ground you’ll be gradually lifting more and as you start to swing, whip or battle with it, the laws of physics will make the load heavier. This is another benefit of rope training unseen in many other forms – the more effort or intensity you put into the rope, the more you get out. So I suggest you start with a 1.5 inch diameter rope to get the feel and form down. Once you’ve mastered the basics with the smaller rope, you can progress to a larger, (heavier) 2 inch rope and battle away. And I want you to think outside the box too! I use the ropes for jumping jacks (a handle in each hand), burpee / shoulder presses and shoulder side laterals. Your imagination is the only limiting factor.
Now I’ll share my favorite rope exercise – the rope backstroke. As I’ve said before much of our training is geared to forwards motion, which leads to bad posture, which may lead to serious skeletal issues later. I grab the rope by the handles, cross my hands, slightly bend at the waist and explosively stand up while performing what looks like a backstroke with the rope. It’s like a kettlebell swing combined with rope shoulder / posture work and it burns! Whichever form of rope training you try, I suggest no more than four sets for up to a minute or 25 reps per round. Rope training is great for everybody – men and women alike. I even have my kids use them! Great exercise is great exercise. It knows no gender or age. So try it and see how you like it.
Is rope training a great fitness tool? I say FACT! Grab the handles and get battling!