Climb You Maggot!!

It’s so tough you don’t even see it at most gyms.

And just thinking about it takes me back to one of my childhood nightmares–being forced to do it over and over and over again until I either got it right, or collapsed in a puddle of tears.

I’m talking about rope climbing.

Yes, simply putting one hand on top of the other in a rhythmic cadence with your legs until you reach the top, then bounding down.

I dreaded the day during YMCA summer camp  when the counselor would line us up and make us climb. I was a chubby kid, but I could swim and play baseball pretty well. But I could not climb that damn rope.

It hurt my hands and even more so my adolescent pride. I was just too heavy, too scared, too everything–and failing that task remains one of my life’s challenges left undone.

Today, the rope climb has largely been replaced by rock- and wall-climbing–both excellent “sports” that test your fitness and daring. If you haven’t tried them, put at least one of them on your gotta-do list for ’12.

There are machines in the gym that replicate the rope climb. Not!

They replicate the arm motion (and they’re a good arm/cardio move) but not the climbing! These days about the only people you see actually climbing a rope are in the military–boot camp hell.

That’s why my friends at The Art of Manliness created a post called How to Climb a Rope Like a Navy Seal.

I coulda used this sucker years ago!

Try the rope machine in the gym as a part of your warmup, especially if it’s an upper-body day. It’ll give you a good stretch, both before and after lifting. Be sure to reach as high as you can on each rotation, and vary the resistance to work the muscles more.

Challenge yourself!


One thought on “Climb You Maggot!!

  1. yep, the torture device of choice for high school PE has gone the way of the dodo thanks to liability for the most part. Although, the fact that most folks can’t climb it in order to get the benefits probobly helped see to it’s decline. Thankfully many YMCA’s and gyms are discovering they can offer rope “training” with the Marpo Rope Trainers ( They have all the benefits of rope climbing plus many bonus features like being able to do upper body cardio – a must for folks that hate to run (like me). 🙂

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