There is a reason soldiers are always climbing ropes in old war movie boot camps: It's a great exercise. More than just helping arm strength, rope climbing can benefit your dexterity, balance, core strength and more. Best of all, it's a simple exercise setup without expensive equipment. Rope climbing, in addition to being a fantastic exercise, is also a technique that could one day save your life in a rescue situation.
The Leg Lock
One of the keys to climbing rope with a minimum of effort is knowing how to properly "lock" the rope against your legs. Begin by wrapping the rope around the inside of your leg, then running it over the top of one of your feet. Use your other foot like a clamp to lock the rope into place by turning your foot perpendicular to the one beneath it and stepping on to the top of your shoe where the rope runs across it. A proper lock should enable you to hang from a rope with a bare minimum of arm strength in use. The arms should only serve to balance you in place while your legs hold the weight.
"Worming" is one name for the technique of climbing while leg-locked to the rope. Requiring use of your abdominal muscles as much as your arms, begin by bringing your knees up toward your chest. Allow the slack rope hanging beneath you to slide through your leg lock, then tighten your clamped feet and stand. Your legs will propel you incrementally up the rope. Repeat this process to move up the rope with a minimum of effort from your arms.
Climbing with just your arms is a little more advanced, but is an excellent exercise for those interested in strength training with ropes. The key to climbing with just your hands in contact with the rope is to continue using your legs as swinging ballast. Fully extending your arms as you climb will make each step harder, like doing a series of pull-ups from zero. Instead, climb like a child performs pull-ups, swinging with your legs for extra momentum. Keep your legs straddling the rope, with a wide stance that will minimize swinging at your point of contact with the rope.
Article Written By Louie Doverspike
Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.