by Morris “Mo” Brossette |
It is one of the main obstacles that strikes fear in many OCR athletes, and is one of the primary obstacles athletes ask to work on when they come to one of my clinics or classes. The rope climb… Usually placed near the end of a race and likely just before or after a grip dominant obstacle like a rig, the rope climb sends many athletes on a one-way trip to burpeeville or losing your band depending on which race you’re competing in.
I learned the technique to climb a rope early in my OCR career, but not before failing it in my very first Spartan race. A week or so after my failed attempt I expressed my concern and frustration to a good friend who at the time was a top 10 ranked elite female. I told her I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get up the rope. I could do pull-ups, monkey bars, and rings all with no problem, so what gives with the rope? She said, “It’s not about strength, its all technique”. She demonstrated, I gave it a try, zipped up to the top and never looked back! Since then I have had the privilege to share my knowledge and help other athletes build the grip strength and technique needed to do the same.
I mentioned above that climbing the rope isn’t all about strength, but you do need grip strength to hold your body still while maneuvering your feet. You also need to develop strength in your Lats (back muscles) to assist your climb However, the most important piece to the puzzle is how you wrap the rope around your leg, as this is the key to your rope climb. So let’s get to it!
Mastering the S-Wrap
4. The key to a successful rope climb is 85% about your foothold. You still, however, need to have the upper body strength and shoulder mobility to hold yourself in a static position for 5-6 seconds while getting your foot hold locked in place. To practice rope specific grip strength I recommend the following.
Seated Rope Pull “Sit to Stand to Sit – Bent Knee”
5. Don’t forget to wear long socks and/or leggings to protect your ankle & calf from rope burn. A rope burn is a painful experience and one that can set you back several days or more. Be smart and ANY time you plan to practice the rope climb be sure to wear the appropriate gear. This is one of the reasons I love MUDGEAR’s compression socks. They actually have an extra “panel” of protection on the back of the calf to ease the friction of any rope.
So there you have it. I know there are other ways to climb a rope out there, but those are the techniques and drills that I have personally used to conquer the rope and have taught to other OCR athletes with great success. Whatever technique you choose, practice it often, practice it with a smile, and I guarantee you will be victorious. Hope to see you at the races!
Morris Brossette is the co-owner and founder of Link Endurance – a holistic and integrative training system designed to make sure every “link” in YOUR chain is just as strong as the next. Mo is a Certified Spartan SGX, SOS Coach, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach, and Licensed Sports Nutritionist. He is host of the Link Endurance Podcast and provides personal nutrition, fitness, and obstacle training.