There’s a good reason soldiers in the military climb rope as one of their training exercises: it’s difficult.
Well, that’s just one of the reasons. Exercises that the military use to train their soldiers are meant to be mentally and physically challenging. The reason: war is mentally and physically challenging. If the most powerful military in the world uses rope climbing to train their deadliest soldiers in preparing them for war, that obviously says something about climbing rope.
There’s no doubt that rope climbing has fallen short of its former glory in recent times. It was once hailed the status of an Olympic sport but got discontinued after the 1932 games. Although it’s still regularly practiced at the World Police and Fire Games, it’s been discarded from most other competitions. Even so, if you go to some old school wrestling gyms, you might just see some thick ropes dangling from their musty ceilings.
It may look simple, but climbing rope is actually very challenging. So don’t let the simplicity of it fool you into thinking you’ll master it on your first try. It doesn’t require any weights. The only weight you’ll be using is your own body. The only resistance being used against you is the force of gravity. The only thing you need is a thick, stable rope.
So why should you climb rope? If you want the pulling strength of a mule, the grip of kung fu GI Joe, and the stamina of a racehorse, you should start climbing rope.
As mentioned, climbing rope improves your pulling strength. Much of your pulling strength derives from the muscles in your back, especially your latissimus dorsi (more commonly known as lats). It will also greatly stimulate your posterior deltoids. Even though you’ll often assist yourself with your legs, the muscles in your upper body will still carry much of the weight as you pull yourself upward. The same way lat pulldowns and other pulling exercises strengthen the muscles in your back, so does pulling your body up a twenty-foot rope.
Stronger Forearms and Gripping Strength
So climbing rope works out the muscles in your back and legs, but your forearms will still bear a great deal of the burden. Just hanging by gripping a rope is already hard enough, actively pulling your body up by one that’s twenty feet long is even harder. There’s almost nothing more effective for strengthening your grip than climbing rope. Afterwards, you’ll most certainly feel the burn in your forearms and biceps.
Establishing a timed circuit in which you climb up and down the rope multiple times will definitely make you break a sweat. It will also condition the aforementioned muscles to perform these arduous tasks more easily and for longer periods of time. For example: during the rope climb, your forearms will be in a constant state of activity as they hold up your body weight. So not only will they be trained to become stronger, but they’ll develop the stamina to use that strength for longer periods of time without relaxing. This kind of muscle conditioning will come very handy in grappling situations during an MMA fight.