How to Climb a Rope

How to Climb a Rope
When it comes to full-body strength building, few exercises can match a simple rope climb in overall effectiveness, which is why it is used extensively for training purposes by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Navy Seals and the Army Rangers, to name a few. But what is the proper way to climb a rope? Let's take a look.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rope
Step 1
Extend your arms high over your head and grip the rope tightly with both hands, one hand directly above the other on the rope.
Step 2
Lightly hop, keeping your hands firmly in place, "gripping" the rope with your feet. To properly grip with your feet, be sure the rope is running over the top of one shoe, then use the other to clamp the rope between its sole and the top of your other shoe. Ideally your "clamp" foot should be locked into the cradle of your other foot (nearly the ankle), with the rope securely between them. This foot grip is crucial, since it will allow you to rest while hanging from the rope.
Step 3
Keeping your hands gripped firmly onto the rope, scoot your feet up--like an inchworm--then clamp down on the rope once more, in the same way as before. You probably want to scoot your feet one to two feet up the rope.
Step 4
Move your hands up the rope, then grip firmly again. Again, you'll probably want to move your hands up about one to two feet.
Step 5
Repeat Step 3 and Step 4 over and over until you reach the top. Use the foot grip to base yourself if you need a rest; ideally, you should be able to hold this position for a long time without much, if any, exertion.
Step 6
Climb down. This actually may be the hardest part of the exercise, since you may be quite tired from the upward climb. Simply keep your foot grip intact and move down, one to two feet at a time, first with your feet, then with your hands.

Tips & Warnings

Good boots can make all the difference when it comes to a rope climb. Hard leather boots can make the foot grip completely painless, allowing you to hold it for long periods at a time.
Avoid sliding down the rope. This can result in a loss of control--potentially leading to rope burns or fall-related injuries.
Don't use up all of your energy on the upward climb--you still need to get down, which itself requires a good amount of energy. If, therefore, you feel winded during the upward climb, consider resting on your foot grip or climbing back down from that point.

Article Written By William Jackson

William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.