Rope climbing training tips for when you don’t have a rope

What’s the best way to train for rope climbing?

That’s easy: Climb a rope.

Of course, for those who don’t have a rope or anything high to hang one on, that’s not so easy to pull off. But, even if you don’t have a rope, you can still train to crush your next rope climb obstacle thanks to a number of exercises geared toward building your grip strength and technique. 

  • Towel Pull-Ups – These closely simulate the same grip you need when climbing a rope. Simply drape a towel over a bar, hook, branch, whatever, and pull yourself up repeatedly. To more closely mimic the motion of a rope climb, alternate focusing your pull on one side and then the other.
  • Close Grip Pull-Ups – This movement keeps your hands close together, much like during a rope climb, so it engages the same muscle groups.
  • Farmer’s Carry – This is one of the best activities for building grip and forearm strength. With a traditional farmer’s carry, you just grab heavy objects in each hand and walk. For variations that are similar to the grip of a rope climb, you can grip towels that are looped through weights or kettlebell handles. You could even put weights in burlap sacks, as gripping the wrapped-up end of a burlap sack is similar to a towel or rope.
  • Knee Raises – Grip strength is important for the rope climb, but it’s only half the battle. You also need to get lower body up the rope. Knee raises work those core muscles that you forget you need on the rope climb, simulating the movement of getting your lower body engaged. And these also still work your grip.
  • Dead Hangs – These are a great grip strength builder. Simply hang on a bar for as long as you can to build your strength and endurance. Even better for rope climb training, go buy yourself a short piece of rope (the price of a cup of coffee) or get a towel, then tie it to a branch or bar and hang.
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