From those awkward days in early gym class to Marine trainees racing through obstacle courses, rope climbing is a time-honored practice of testing and building your physical fitness. At one time, rope climbing was even an Olympic event, pitting agile athletes from around the world to see who could race up their rope the quickest. Rope climbing is not only a great workout for the upper body, it’s also a useful skill, whether you’re looking to do some technical climbing or scale Mount Midoriyama to become the next American Ninja Warrior.
There are several methods taught for proper rope climbing technique. The biggest difference between each technique is how you use your feet. No matter what method you use, you should always start by jumping up to grab the rope at the highest point possible. This helps give you a head start and provides some wiggle room for you to position the rope between your legs.
Gym class technique
1: Squeeze the rope between your feet, reach for a higher grip, one hand at a time, and pull yourself up.
2: Loosen your grip with your feet to allow the extra rope to pass through, then squeeze the rope again with your feet and reach your next hand grip.
S-Wrap (Marines) technique
1: Allow the rope to pass around your right leg and then wrap around the outside of your right foot and under the arch. Pinch the rope against your right foot with your left foot. You should be able to stand on the rope with minimal hand grip.
2: Pull yourself up on the rope with your hands and hold your position. Unwrap your feet and raise your legs before reestablishing your foot grip and standing up on the rope again.
Bud/s (Navy seals) technique
1: Let the rope fall to the outside of your right foot and then under your foot’s arch. Pinch the rope against your right foot with your left foot.
2: Pull yourself up on the rope with both hands, then establish your grip with your feet. Stand up and repeat.