The rope climb. For many individuals, the phrase brings back memories (nightmares?) of physical education class and being forced to climb a rope. At GymnasticBodies, we know that for those who aren’t trained to do this move, it can be intimidating, but we assure you, it was meant for more than just scaring school children.
Gymnastic rope climbing is a great workout – it works your arms, upper back, grip, and strengthens the connective tissue around the elbows (which is essential for ring training later). Not only that, but it also builds muscular endurance and your cardiovascular system. Unlike rope climbing exercises in a physical education class, gymnastic rope climbing does not involve the legs – it focuses on the strength of upper body muscles.
A Bit of History on Gymnastic Rope Climbing
Rope climbing was once an Olympic event – from the 1860s into 1932. Even when it was removed as an Olympic competition, college athletes competed in rope climbing until the 1960s. About thirty years later, rope climbing once again became a popular sport, in the Czech Republic.
Steps to Learn Gymnastic Rope Climbing
The first step is to ensure that you can hold your bodyweight on the rope. Reach up as high as possible and pull your legs into a hanging tuck. Hold the movement for several seconds, and if that’s something you can manage, try extending your legs, one at a time.
Start the gymnastic rope climb with the no leg climb: Sit on the floor with the rope between your legs, which are either bent or straight, depending on your confidence and comfort. Pull yourself up, hand over hand, reaching as high up as you can. Continue that motion, and when you’re ready, come down, using hand over hand placement to bring yourself down the rope.
Once you’ve mastered those steps, the gymnastic rope climb will be a piece of cake.
For more information on proper rope climbing progressions, see the GymnasticBodies Foundation Series, which includes a Czech series of progressions that are inspired by rope climbers in the Czech Republic.