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Coach Sommer

Cirques - An Advanced Rope Climbing Variation

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Coach Sommer

Prior to discussing Cirque performance guidelines, there are several caveats that must first be reviewed:

1) To perform, or even to safely attempt cirques, you must first be capable of a standard rope climb with no legs; as demonstrated in the ascent portion of the video clip below. The ability to only climb the rope using the legs for assistance is not indicative of sufficient strength to attempt cirque training.

2) All rope climb training should be done a safe area that is suitably soft in case of an unexpected slip or fall. Use a proper climbing rope that is adequately anchored.

3) It is my strongest recommendation that initially you should only attempt cirques from just barely off of the ground. Do not immediately seek to emulate the athlete in the video and perform them from 25' in the air. Failure to follow this recommendation may result in a grip failure at a great height from the ground, leading to a fall and followed shortly thereafter by an abrupt and sudden stop on an unacceptably hard surface :(.

Cirques are essentially a rope climb with no legs followed by a series of negative one-arm chins. After reaching your chosen height at the end of either an L-sit or straddle L rope climb, pull your chosen support arm strongly into the chest, tucking the gripping hand into the notch between your neck and shoulder. This position of the arm and hand will greatly increase your leverage for this movement.

Now release one hand from the rope and attempt to perform a one-arm lock off. A one-arm lock off is simply statically holding your bent arm position without dropping lower. If you are not able to comfortably maintain yourself in the one-arm lock off position (3-5 seconds), you are not yet proficient enough at rope climbs to train cirques. Go back to less advanced rope climb variations and build a stronger foundation prior to returning to cirque training.

From the one-arm lock off, slowly begin to extend the arm into a negative one-arm chin. At first, be cautious and use a very abbreviated range of motion for the negative one-arm chin. Remember that the greater the range of motion during the one-arm negative, the greater the intensity of this movement. Be wise and gradually extend the range of motion over a period of weeks or even months, allowing the body plenty of time to adapt and grow to meet the new training demands being placed upon it. Over time you will safely and progressively build the range of motion of the one-arm negative.

Do not at first widely extend you non-supporting arm to the side. While this is very cool and quite dramatic, it is for advanced athletes only. Rather keep the non-supporting arm close to the rope to assist in the case of a grip failure. Once you reach the limit of your one-arm negative chin, simply switch hands and begin the next negative one-arm chin with the other arm. Continue in this fashion for the duration of the cirque descent.

At first it is best to limit yourself to only one negative one-arm chin per arm. This is an intense movement and it is wise to test the waters judiciously prior to committing yourself to a full-blown workout of cirques.

Cirques are an advanced rope climbing variation that is quite useful for building high levels of gymnastic dynamic, grip and biceps strength; as well as being excellent preparation for advanced ring strength elements (malteses especially). My three athletes who are the strongest at malteses are also quite proficient at cirques.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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kbryk

Those look very tough, especially on the way down, up won't be to difficult if you perform enough pull ups, but the way down is like ten, one arm let downs.

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John Sapinoso

i feel these mostly in my lats, not my biceps

does that mean i'm not doing these correctly?

or is it just an indication of where my strength is balanced?

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Paul

I'd say it's more lat dominant. I found I can go up a rope like that (arms only) quite easily and at the time I first tried it I was only doing the planche progressions and the front lever progressions plus some other stuff like crosses, back levers, hanging leg raises, skin the cat, handstands etc. I haven't done actual pull ups for years as they always give me elbow tendonitis but you can build a lot of pulling power/lat strength from other stuff.

Paul.

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Nic Scheelings

Hi,

Unfortunately i don't have access to a rope but i gave these a go on a rather tall pole (it felt pretty good except for some discomfort in my nether regions) is it going to be much different on a rope?

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MatthewM

Do you have your stronger athletes climb the rope in the same way they descend? If not, why?

Matt

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Coach Sommer

For ascents during rope climbs, I usually focus on one of three things, either;

1) speed

2) weight vest

3) or occasionally hopping.

Regardless of the technique used for the ascent, I generally focus on cirques during the descent.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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colcio
For ascents during rope climbs, I usually focus on one of three things, either;

1) speed

2) weight vest

3) or occasionally hopping.

Regardless of the technique used for the ascent, I generally focus on cirques during the descent.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Hi

Can this exercise be done with a towel and a flex band in the other hand ? if you are not strong enough.I can climb this kind of rope 3 times or can pull-up 30+ times but when I attempt to do a negative ,rope or bar ,I drop down like a girl.

Thanks

Colcio

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michaelg

does anyone have any tips to help develop the grip strength for this exercise? I've been doing weighted rope climbs of 50 pounds with no legs and strong on one arm pull ups and come downs, but gripping a rope with just one arm must take an absurd amount of strength how can I develop this.

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Ian Legrow

Lots of rope climbing. Your grip will increase dramatically and when you want to begin cirques do not attempt to hold it one armed longer then your body is comfortable. When you begin you might only be able to hold one arm, under control, for less then a second. thats ok! train smart and it will get better.

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Sven Ravnstag

Is there a recommended diameter for the rope? What about where to get one, and the best way to fix it to the ceiling (or the swing hook I hang my rings from)?

I see some available from rogue fitness. The 20 foot is just over $100; not sure if this is reasonable for a conditioning rope or if I'd be paying a premium for an "exercise rope" that's actually just a rope.

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yuri marmerstein
does anyone have any tips to help develop the grip strength for this exercise? I've been doing weighted rope climbs of 50 pounds with no legs and strong on one arm pull ups and come downs, but gripping a rope with just one arm must take an absurd amount of strength how can I develop this.

http://youtu.be/ha-qGjeNVJs

  • Upvote 1

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Nic Branson

Keep in mind the material will also impact the grip strength needed. Manilla or cotton my grip is not an issue for most thing. The thick poly thing I have at home is more difficult on the hands but that leads to some nice carryover grip wise.

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Clément POIRET

Hi all, 

 

I've a question : With what exercise can us replace it when we do not have a rope?

thx :)

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Lucas Serur
Hi all, 

 

I've a question : With what exercise can us replace it when we do not have a rope?

thx :)

You can get a short rope or braid your own (it doesn't have to be a long one, 1-2m will suffice) and do single rope pull-ups and short climbs with it.

 

Until then, close grip chins will help conditioning the elbows and shoulders to the rigors of the rope.

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Coach Sommer

Those are a nice supplemental piece of equipment, but there is nothing that can replace working on an actual rope.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Clément POIRET

thank you coach, but now I have no space for rope :/

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Lucas Serur

Coach,

What do you think of using a vertical pole instead of a rope for climbing?

I've done it in a few ocasions and it felt surprisingly similar. Maybe a bit easier to get a hold on to since it doesn't wobble like a rope.

 

 

thank you coach, but now I have no space for rope :/

Are you sure you can't put the rope on the apparatus you use to do your chin ups?

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yuri marmerstein
Coach,

What do you think of using a vertical pole instead of a rope for climbing?

I've done it in a few ocasions and it felt surprisingly similar. Maybe a bit easier to get a hold on to since it doesn't wobble like a rope.

 

 

Are you sure you can't put the rope on the apparatus you use to do your chin ups?

Pole is fun in its own right, but still nothing feels quite the same as rope climb

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Clément POIRET

I use a door bar so I'm close to the floor and my door is small so I can not be in straddle L

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Joseph Fradelakis

i would use a towel as those are very hard to grip. if you want to work ONLY your grip you can do one arm towel hangs for time. If you're not strong enough make the towel thinner so its easier to grip and if you're too strong make the towel thicker and it's impossible to grip!

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