3 Steps to Advance Your Rope Climb

Rope climbs are an awesome way for wrestlers to build their core, arm strength, and stamina. Its the kind of exercise that helps you get gritty... you can't let go and you have to fight to the top! It can be very representative of a wrestling match, which makes it so applicable! Once you can advance to climbing the rope without the assistance of your legs, you are reaching a new level of strength. Here are your steps to advancing your rope climb.

Core strength

In order to be able to control your legs, you need to build up your core strength. Start by testing how long you can pull yourself up and hold in a seated position. Wherever you start, add 5-10 seconds each time you practice this drill. Try completing 10 sets. As soon as you can hold for 30 seconds and longer, cut down your sets by two. The idea is to do less sets and longer holds. This will help you stay in control when you travel up and down the rope. 

Shoulder strength

Hoisting yourself up the rope, hand over hand, will require a pulling motion above your head. When you use your legs, they assist in gaining distance on the rope. Without your legs, you have to shorten that distance purely with upper body and shoulder power. Complete this drill the same way you completed the core strength drill.. Reach hand over hand to gage your readiness to try and climb the rope. Create a game out of these two drills by competing with a teammate to see who can hold on the longest!






The hardest step is always the first, so be patient and use each "hand over hand" gain as progress! Some will quickly make it all the way up the rope, others may spend weeks only completing a few hand over hand passes. Once you can climb some or all of the rope, be sure that you have worked on your core and shoulder drills enough that you are able to change the pattern to hand under hand and can control your speed back to the bottom. Never, never, hold on and slide down the rope. This will cause horrible rope burn damage to your hands, and will most likely prevent future progress. Your climb is never done once you touch the top, you are building strength as you come back down the rope as well. Happy climbing!

Rope climb demonstrated by 3x Junior World Medalist, national team member, and resident at the Olympic Training Center Erin Golston.