Rope training is nothing new but has been gaining in popularity over the last few years. People have been using thick ropes for a few years now with great benefits. If you had a bad experience with climbing the rope in middle school, maybe it’s time to revisit this classic fitness tool.

During most thick rope exercises, the muscles in the hands and forearms are engaged to a great extent, which is an area where many men lack sufficient strength. You should use ropes during the accessory portion of your workouts. That means you perform the regular primary exercises (typically compound barbell lifts) and then incorporate the ropes into the program.

In addition to stronger hands and forearms, ropes can be used for a variety of climbing and pulling exercises to increase relative body strength. These movements are both fun and effective for general physical preparedness, specifically in younger athletes.

Four Effective Thick Rope Exercises

1. Supine Rows.

Throw the rope over a fixed object. In the gym they use a power rack, at home, you can use a tree branch. Lie down on your back, reach up and grab the row, then pull your hands to your chest. The advanced variation involves elevating your feet.

2. Pull-Ups. Just throw the rope over a fixed object like with the supine row set up. Reach up, grab a hold and begin your pull-ups. You will be able to do far fewer with the rope than on a regular bar because of the added grip strength required. Do these FIRST then finish with regular pull-ups so you still train your back muscles, and your grip isn’t the weak link.

3. Hand Over Hand Rows. Attach the rope to a weighted object (outdoors). This object is usually a sled, but you could use anything that is heavy. Walk the rope out to the end then row the object all the way to you. Repeat for multiple sets.

4. Rope Battling. Up until this point, all the exercises have been pulling movements. Rope battling is for conditioning. Anchor your rope around a fixed object so the rope folds in half and you have both ends in your hands. Make waves in the rope. You can make big waves, small waves, or alternating waves. Then take both and try to make circles in the rope (grappler tosses). Complete this for a timed set.

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