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Tip: strong grip, big back, lots of fun

Having a strong grip allows your muscles to tighten appropriately, resulting in better power transfer to the weight you are lifting. A stronger grip generally means a stronger person, and many studies have found that people with a stronger grip actually live longer.

One of the best old school ways to improve your grip is rope climbing. Not only will it fire up your forearms, biceps, and lats, it’s a killer workout for your core, too.

Here are a few ways to climb a rope that builds serious grip strength … and add a little fun to your workout.

S-Wrap Rope Climb

This is the safest way to tie your leg to the rope and requires the least amount of arm strength. The disadvantage? It̵

7;s usually a slower climb. It’s also harder to get your knees up, and you can easily burn a rope on your lower leg using this technique if you’re not wearing the right clothing.

In this variant, you wrap your entire leg around the rope. To do this, take your leg by the outside of the rope and wrap the rope around your lower leg so that some of it falls onto your shoelaces.

S wrap

As you climb, try to keep your wrapped leg in constant contact with the rope. This will make it easier for you to “clip” your free foot onto your foot in the rope. The goal should be to clamp the rope between your feet.

As you lower yourself to the floor, let go of your free leg and gradually lower the rope a little. Clamp your free leg back onto the rope to secure your lower body in case you need to bend your elbows to lower yourself further.

J-Hook Rope Climb

This one is much faster than the last and much easier to walk up your knees for the next move. The downside is you have fewer points of contact with the rope, which makes this climb feel less safe. It also requires more arm strength.

This is the technique that competitive CrossFitters use to go up and down as quickly as possible.


Place the outside of your dominant foot on the rope. As you pull up, use your non-dominant foot to “scoop” the rope so that it falls onto your shoelaces.

Then clamp your non-dominant foot on top of your dominant foot to secure your lower body to the rope. Try to keep the rope in the middle of your body while climbing. This makes re-hooking the legs much easier.

Keep the side of your dominant foot in contact with the rope as you lower. Use your nondominant foot to pull up on the rope so it is better taught. This will make it easier for you to move your legs across the rope without losing contact.

Arms-only-running-man-rope climbing

This climb requires considerable arm strength. The benefit is the amount of arm strength you gain from it. The downside is that it takes a fair amount of force to even try.

To do it smoothly, forcefully drive your opposite knee up as you pull with your opposite arm. This gives you a better center of gravity and allows your natural swing to aid you in scaling the rope.

Leg climbing only with the arms spread

This is one step higher than the ascent of the running man. It takes significant core strength to keep your legs in the spread position and a lot of arm strength to get yourself onto the rope. Keep your core busy for the entire duration of the climb. Be explosive with every pull and hold on tight.

Upside Down or “Spider-Man” Climb

This requires significant coordination between hands and feet. As you go up, you should use your feet and toes to “grab” the rope. Similar to the ascent with the running man, you should move opposite the arm and leg to keep your momentum up.

Make sure to do a few practice runs while staying low on the ground. You don’t want to miss a single step when you’re high up on the rope.

Before rope climbing …

  • Never slide down the rope without walking hand in hand unless the rope is badly burned.
  • Wear high socks or pants if you want to minimize rope burn on the lower leg / thigh when performing the S-wrap or J-hook.
  • Familiarize yourself with the S-Wrap and J-Hook before climbing the rope with the arms-only climbs. This ensures that if your arms get tired from standing high up, you can save yourself.

Related: Climbing Your Way To Massive Arms

Related: Two Old School Back & Bicep Builders

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