Friday, October 5, 2007

Rope Climbing, A forgotten Gem

I´ve rediscovered the joys of rope climbing in the past month and a half. The idea crept into my mind and I finally broke down and bought a 25´section of 1 1/4" manila rope. In time, I´m going to sink some telephone poles in my back yard and create a rope climbing station so that I have a place to do them. I personally believe they are that invaluable for overall physical fitness.

They are an advanced exercise for sure and I´m still learning the ropes of the ropes. When I got my chunk of rope, I couldn´t do the climb with the feet. I work on it, just in case I have a problem and my hands can´t make it. Yeah, I just grabbed the rope with my hands and just climbed up and down, no feet at all. Tough guy, for sure!

I quickly found a defect in my arm training. The sides of my arms hurt like hell. The reason why is because there is a muscle that runs along the side of the elbow. It´s purpose is to stabilize the elbow joint while the bicep flexes the arm. Since this is barely discussed and commonly forgotten about, I disregarded it. This amounted to a painful mistake on the rope. To strengthen it ( if you´re going to climb the rope, I strongly urge you to do this!), take the following exercise:

1. Place your arm at a 90 degree angle with the forearm parallel to the ground in front of your chest. Clench your hand in a tight fist.

2. Place you opposite hand on your fist.

3. Raise your fist up, keeping your elbow flexed at 90 degrees while resisting with the opposite hand. Do five at maximum tension

4. Repeat with the opposite side.

Also, some loosening up and stretching is almost mandatory before doing the rope. Also, if you´re following the exercise format that I gave in my previous post about bulking up, I´d recommend that you move the DVR/DSR/Iso section up first and do the calisthenic section after. Fingertip pushups are a great augmentation to the rope climb.

The true worth of the rope climb lies in the fact that it is utilizing both isotonic and isometric contraction in one single exercise. While you´re using one arm to reach up and grasp the rope, your opposite arm is going to be locked in place, holding your bodyweight to the rope. This is an intense isometric contraction for sure! The subsequent lift is a powerful, pull-up style movement. This is an exercise that forces your body to obey your mind´s wishes. If the body doesn´t, you could get hurt. It´s a powerful training tool but it requires some common sense. I recommend that you have very powerful arms, are proficient in closed grip pullups, chinups and towel pullups. Above all, you have a positive mindset. If you don´t, then skip this one!

Don´t come here and blame me if you hurt yourself. Consider yourself warned if you´re too weak to do these. I take respnsiblity for my own actions. You should take responsiblity for yours. Otherwise, be careful and have fun!


David Huerta said...

Hello, I climbed a rope about a month back with just hands but when I finished my arms hurt like hell and i basically couldn't do any upper body workouts for three weeks. I just recently got back to upper body work outs and tried the rope again and after climbing it with just arms again my arms hurt like hell!! Again! Could it be that I am doing it wrong or that my muscle is just weak?

Justin_PS said...

Could be both.

Do you go slow up, fast down? Lack of control when going fast is a recipe for disaster.

The rope hits the braccialis muscle hard, something most people don't get enough training for. Hammer grip pull-ups can help with that, as can rope pull-ups.

Lastly, IMO, rope climbing shouldn't be attempted if you can't do 15 good pull-ups with relative ease.