Global Bodyweight Training - Manila Rope Climb
Rope climbing is a great alternative for your vertical pulling patterns!
Rope climbing is one of my favorite alternatives for your vertical pulling patterns (after all, you can’t do pull-ups all the time!). It can be extremely challenging to work your way up to climbing using only your arms, so today we’re going to start at the beginning, with the S-Hook.

I love rope climbing because it picks up on one of the cool “new” concepts in fitness: PLAY! Going back to playing may not be exactly high tech, but it’s pretty awesome that some of the things that we enjoyed doing when we were younger, that helped us develop our coordination, stability and baseline strength, can still be very beneficial in our training. And enjoying our workouts and actually having fun is not such a bad thing. Think back to all those fun things that we did in P.E. class like sprint drills, balance games, peg boards and the topic of this tutorial: the rope climb!

Mud, Obstacles, and Ropes

Global Bodyweight Training - Climbing Rope
With the popularity of obstacle course races, you just might find yourself up a rope in a tree during your next 10k!

In the past year we’ve seen phenomenal growth in the popularity of races that challenge you way behind just running for 5k or 10k. Tough Mudders, Warrior Dashes, Tarzan Cups – people all over the world are signing up to crawl through mud, dash over walls, swing through monkey bars, and shimmy up ropes. Whether you are planning to give an obstacle race a try; are contemplating trying out for American Ninja Warrior; or just want to develop killer grip strength and super hero lats and biceps, the climbing ropes should be in everybody’s training tool box.

I constantly emphasize that simplicity can be one of the most effective ways to train, and that you don’t need any fancy gadgets to get a ripped body. If you’re really into bodyweight training or calisthenics, an actual playground can be a worthy adversary when developing a perfectly functional and symmetrical physique. One of the reasons I like the climbing rope so much is that it fits in here so perfectly – a rope is an easy tool to carry with you and throw over a tree limb on a beautiful day at the park.

Climbing Progressions and the S-Hook

Global Bodyweight Training - Rope Climbing
We want to progress to using only our arms and keeping the legs in a horizontal straddle
Since climbing is considered a vertical pulling pattern, it’s a great alternative to your basic Pull-Up or Chin-Ups. And, with its different progressions, it offers new challenges all of its own. With rope climbing we want to eventually get to the point to where you can climb the rope using only your arms. Once you can do that, we want to further progress to where the lower body is in a straddle L position with the knees totally extended at hip height and the toes pointed. Until you get to this progression, there are many ways to use the legs to assist in your climb.

The technique we are using in this video is the S Hook. It’s an easy way to get started and proves to be a total body exercise. We will cover other hook techniques in future videos. The key with the S Hook is that by looping the rope around one foot (in the form of an S) and standing on that with the other foot, we create a strong, stable base from which to climb. The legs are able to assume much of your bodyweight, allowing you to build upper body strength while practicing your climbing.

GBT Ropes and the Eye Loop

Some of you may know that we have been offering Fitness Ropes through our GBT site for quite some time now. We’re really excited to be able to start offering the same quality in climbing ropes, and are officially launching the new product with to coincide with this post and video. (See the new Rope Climbing page here).

Global Bodyweight Training - Climbing Rope
The S-Hook loops the rope under the knee and then over the foot
One of the features that sets our ropes apart from many others is that they all come with a soft “Eye Loop,” where the attachment end is braided back into itself to form a 6” loop, via a splicing technique. This makes any rigging equipment completely unnecessary. The eye loop is designed to allow you to just drape the rope over any sturdy object and thread the opposite end of the rope through the loop and pull it through until it’s snug. Now you’ve got a completely portable climbing rope that you can bring with you anywhere that you decide to get your BW training on. You can see more pictures of what we mean on the Climbing Ropes page.

Stay tuned for more climbing rope tutorials that will help you progress all the way to that arms-only climb. And, be sure to pick up one of your own if you don’t have one already!

Want to check out another option for training with ropes? See our article and video about using fitness/exercise ropes as undulating or power ropes: Fitness Ropes for Serious Warrior Conditioning

Published by Mike Fitch

Mike is the founder of Global Bodyweight Training. He has more than 12 years as a fitness professional encompassing a wide range of disciplines which he draws upon to create the GBT system.

Join the Conversation


  1. I use the 1.5″ Manila rope for climbing but have a problem trying to get the rope to release from around the overhead anchor point. After climbing, the rope gets tight at the eye loop and won’t come loose! Then you can’t reach it to loosen it ! Any tricks?

  2. Great idea for a portable climb oping rope! I used to climb one in the old State Gym when I went to college. I gave up on ever finding a place with a climbing rope now. I just ordered one in 1.5″ poly from Karen this morning.
    I also have been thinking about how to undo the loop without climbing the tree or getting a ladder. My idea is to tie a much thinner rope to the loop before I pull everything tight. I was hoping that I could use the lighter rope to pull down the loop after I’m finished.. I’m curious what works for everyone else.

    1. Hey Jim! I definitely share your enthusiasm in climbing ropes and have thoroughly enjoyed being able to train with them again. That’s a great idea you had on getting the rope down and have had a few other customers make some suggestions as well. If you find the most efficient way, we’d love to have you post a video so we can share your idea with other readers. Keep training hard my friend!

      1. Mike, I’ve been using my GBWT climbing rope now and it is everything I hoped for. I have lots of cool stuff I use for conditioning, but nothing is more fun than this rope. The trickiest part is still how to throw the loop over just the right spot on the tree limb. Using my extension ladder works the easiest for putting the rope up in the best spot, but I do have a way to easily get the rope down while staying on the ground. My wife was patient enough to video this method today. Here is the YouTube link:

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