Rope Climbing Exercise- What Is It And What Are Its Benefits? March 31, 2015

So, have you tried rope climbing at your local gym? Well, if you haven’t you might want to consider it. Rope climbing is one of the best full body workouts and is incredibly fun to do once you learn how to do it properly. Read this post and find out how to perform some simple rope climbing exercises and their benefits for your body.

What is Rope Climbing?

Rope climbing is as the name suggests an exercise where you climb a knotted rope. It is a full body workout and it helps you build arm strength. Rope climbing helps improve your grip, agility and co-ordination skills. It is an ancient practice and includes one simple motion. However, many armies and military units in civilizations all across time have used this exercise for centuries and it remains one of the best upper body strength exercises available.

Muscles Worked:

Rope climbing involves the use of different muscles like your biceps, shoulders, forearms, back and abdominals and tones and strengthens the aforementioned muscle groups. Rope climbing helps develop balance and agility.


You don’t need much equipment for the rope climb:

  • Climbing rope (1.5″ – 2″ thick manila rope) hooked securely to a high ceiling.
  • Weight Vest (Optional/Advanced)

Prepping For The Rope Climb:

You need to do many things before attempting the rope climb without embarrassing yourself. If you go too fast, there are chances you could suffer from nasty friction burns and embarrassment in the gym, when you fall down while attempting the climb.

You need to work out for a while before you can attempt the rope climb. For this, you need to build up strength in your arms, abs, shoulders and your back. You need to develop a vice like grip, while improving your agility and co-ordination.

People who climb rope regularly have a better muscle tone than non-rope climbers who have probably been hitting the gym for years. This exercise isn’t only reserved for really fit people. However, rope climbing does demand that you be in good enough physical shape to complete it.

Some exercises that can help you develop the requisite strength needed to climb rope include:


This is one of the most popular exercises to perform. Pull-ups are excellent for developing strength in your arms and toning your muscles to lift your body weight.


Another insanely popular workout routine, that most people who exercise perform, push-ups are great for developing upper body strength. Push-ups help you develop the strength you need and help you increase your endurance levels.

Sled Pulls:

Sled pulls are one of the best exercises for training your muscles for the rope climb. They mimic the muscular movement of the rope climb and help develop enough strength in your arms for performing the rope climb.

Kettlebell Or Dumbbell Pull:

This is a novel way to get in shape for the rope climb. All you do is tie a rope to a dumbbell or a kettlebell and throw the other end of the rope over a pull-up bar.

Now proceed to lift the kettlebell/dumbbell towards you, mimicking the rope climb motion. Increase the weight gradually; get more comfortable with the current one. Pulling the kettlebell towards you is like aping the motion but with little weight, which is far from lifting your own body weight up the rope, but it is a step in the right direction.

Directions For The Rope Climb:

Now that you know what other routines can help you get in shape for the rope climb, let us look at how to attempt the exercise:

  1. Begin by gripping the rope. Keep one hand above the other and let the rope trail down between your legs.
  2. Now begin pulling yourself up by bending at the elbows
  3. When you reach the top of your lift, grab a higher part of the rope with your lower hand.
  4. Keep repeating this motion until you reach the top of the rope.

You can also consider using a knotted rope, where each knot is a break (a rest where you can keep your foot and pass the rope behind your legs and over your toes). Using this technique can help you inch your body up the rope bit by bit.


You can add variations to the routine to make it tougher or more challenging. In fact, if you are looking to challenge yourself, you might want to consider one of these advanced rope-climbing techniques.

Advanced Rope Climbing:

When you can comfortably scale the rope within seconds, consider switching to one of these techniques:

Climb Without Using Feet:

Consider using on your upper body strength to haul yourself up the rope. This is an effective exercise for the upper body. However, do not even think about attempting this climb if you haven’t mastered the rope climb yet.

Weighted Rope Climb:

Another effective way of intensifying the rope climb is by adding some additional weight to your routine climb. This is an extremely effective way of maximizing muscle development. Like, the advanced climb technique, you should only attempt this once you have mastered the standard variation. Add small weights and increase them gradually.

Other Variations:

Apart from these popular variations, some other physically challenging variations include:

  • Upside down rope climb
  • Double rope climb

Alternative Exercises For Rope Climb:

Sometimes, you might not have a rope handy. So, what do you do then? Simple, really! You can try this alternative exercise:

Pull-Ups Using A Towel:

One of the most fun ways to substitute rope climbing routine is by performing the towel pull up is just as effective as the rope climb. The grip and movement is essentially the same and this is the most widely used routine for when you forget your climbing rope at home.

Hang a towel on the pull up bat and grip both sides with each hand. Place your hands on different levels, one above one below. Aim to perform around 10-15 pull-ups.

So, perform these exercises and get in shape today! Tell us whether you found this post helpful. Leave a comment below.

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