Ring Rows Build Bodyweight Strength for Rope Climbing
The bodyweight row is an incredible exercise that many people mistakenly overlook, thus missing out on its potential benefits. Ring rows build the bodyweight strength necessary for rope climbing, and they help correct muscular imbalances and deficiencies that could lead to shoulder injuries. They are infinitely scalable to match or challenge your current level of strength, and they pay huge dividends in terms of grip strength as well. Given all these advantages, the answer is simple: you should include ring rows in your weekly Gymnastic Strength TrainingTM routine.
Here at GymnasticBodies, the standard for ring rows requires strict quality. Unlike most athletes who perform ring rows with piked hips and a "bounce" at the top of each rep, at GB you must move slowly and with control. To begin, set your rings to the appropriate height, then assume the bottom position with your arms fully extended. Keep tension throughout your midsection to ensure that your hips are open and that your body is held tight in one solid line.
From this position, initiate the pulling motion by retracting the scapula and bending the arms. Keep pulling until you reach the top of the movement when your elbows are behind your body and your biceps cover your forearms. Pause briefly, then slowly lower with control until you reach the bottom start position once more. Keep your legs together, knees locked out, and core tight, then repeat for the given amount of reps.
If this technique seems more challenging than the usual way you see ring rows performed, then this exemplifies a bigger, much more important point: the purpose of your training should be to challenge yourself to adapt and grow stronger, not just to do as many repetitions as you can by making the movement easier! The athletes who make the most progress are those who consistently spend time training the most challenging version of the movement, not the least.
Bodyweight rowing variations kick off your rope climb training in the GB Foundation Series and are your ticket to strong, healthy, injury-free elbows!
For instance, legless rope climbing should be on the list of upper-body strength goals for all athletes... the question then becomes how to get there. Unfortunately, many trainees mistakenly think that kipping pull-ups will help them reach legless rope climbs, but given the lack of both time under tension and controlled muscular effort, this is a very suboptimal and arguably counter-productive path to take. On the other hand, ring rows require your body to specifically adapt to these challenges, thus getting you stronger and taking you one step closer to legless rope climbing.
The difficulty of your ring rows can be easily adjusted in order to challenge your current level of strength. The basic progression is from an inclined body angle, to flat, to declined. For incline rows, set your rings at about shoulder height, place your feet under the rings, and then begin. Ground rows, or flat, should have the rings set such that your shoulders are just barely above the floor when your arms are at full extension. Lastly, you can make these even more challenging by elevating your feet onto a box that is at the same height as the rings.
There are many benefits to ring rows performed in this manner. First, the focus on full-body tension will transfer to many other movements down the road (note that this carry-over is not true if you "bounce" your reps or sag your hips). Second, your grip strength will be challenged by the additional time under tension when you row slowly with control. This is a good thing! When aiming for higher reps of chin-ups or multiple lengths of a rope climb, trainees often experience a lack of grip strength as a limiting factor. It will benefit you to build that strength endurance in your grip now rather than reaching a plateau in your later work.
Furthermore, including ring rows in your training can pay huge dividends in terms of maintaining shoulder health and preventing the risk of injury. When all you do is bench press and bicep curls, the musculature that internally rotates your shoulders can get tight from overuse. The problem arises when these athletes then try to go overhead: their shoulder external rotators are too weak to overcome the tension in the opposite direction, and they experience pain in the form of shoulder impingement from being in a poor position. Fortunately, this is where ring rows come in: they engage weak back musculature like the mid and lower traps, and they can even stretch tight anterior chest musculature like the pec minor. This focus on muscular balance can help restore deficiencies and keep your shoulders stay healthy for a lifetime of training.
GymnasticBodies ring rows are the ultimate tool for building incredible rope climb strength!