6 Toughest Rope Climb Challenges

Dustin Myers


Rope Climbing is hands down one of my favorite functional exercises and is a must for wrestlers and all combat athletes.  Climbing a rope is a great barometer of upper body strength and endurance, and one of the best exercises for developing grip strength.  The best part?  There is a very low entry level for rope climbs as they can be done by athletes of any age and ability.  Both of my kids learned to climb the rope at OSG when they were 4 years old, and they still utilize the “beginner” version, by climbing with their legs wrapped around the rope.  The flip side to that low entry point is that some extremely difficult variations also exist that will really test your grip strength, pulling power, and strength to bodyweight ratio.  Here are 6 of my favorites in order from kinda tough to ninja status:

1. Leg-less

The first step up in difficulty is pretty self explanatory.  Don’t use your legs to hold your bodyweight.

Tip:  As you pull with your top hand, reach with your bottom hand before you stop moving to keep the rhythm going.  If you wait too long to let go with your bottom hand you will immediately drop as you try to reach.

2. Weighted

Use a weight vest or a weight belt to add some extra load as you climb.

Tip:  Stat out with small increments (5-10lbs) and gradually increase weight as you get stronger.  Also, if using a weighted belt, pinch the kettle bell (or plates) between your knees so it doesn’t swing and throw off your balance.

3. L-Sit

Engage your core and maintain an L-Sit position as you climb.

Tip:  Start with your knees bent in a “chair position” then work up to a full L-Sit as your core strength increases.

4. Double L-Sit

For this L-Sit variation you will need 2 ropes roughly 4-5 feet apart.  Rather than alternating hands while you climb, you will “jump” a few inches at a time.  Pull, then reach fast!

Tip: Never let your arms get completely extended.

5. Inverted

Now we are getting into freak territory.  Start by laying on your back directly under the rope, point your legs straight up, then keep your core tight as you pull the rope towards your stomach.

Tip: Think of this climb as more of a seated row…while keeping your hips elevated…and hanging upside down.

6. Behind the Head

This might just be the most difficult rope climb in the known training universe.  Put the rope behind your head, reach up and pull/bicep curl your way to the top.  Good luck.

Tip:  Have superhuman strength

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