THE ROPE – The Benefits and History Behind Ancient Rope Climb

December 2, 2023 by VAHVA Fitness

Learn the history and benefits of rope climb and start utilizing it in your workouts. There are so many techniques you can do and it doesn't need to be difficult at first!

In the past, rope climb was one of the most popular training tools available whereas now it's one of the least popular ones.

Probably all of us can remember the ropes from our PE (physical education) classes when we were playing ball games or practicing gymnastics in these big gymnasiums. 

Back in the 1950s almost everyone was able to rope climb in school and especially in the military. Nowadays, only the gifted athletes are able to do it.

No wonder, rope climbing has lost popularity over the years. 

kids rope climb

For the longest time, I didn't like the rope either. Not only was it extremely difficult to climb the rope up and down but it was also very hard on the hands. I felt strong discomfort in my palms and fingers.

But this was not the fault of the rope. My hands just weren't conditioned enough, I didn't have enough strength and I was carrying too much fat.

I also didn't know how to practice the rope climb properly. This, by far is the biggest obstacle and hindrance for people to start utilizing the rope – very few people know how to progressively and systematically utilize the rope.

The actual rope climb without legs is a very advanced skill. Most of us are not at this level yet. Our grandparents likely were but many of us are not.

With the proper progressions and techniques, you can start doing rope exercises without too much discomfort. These we cover in detail in Iron King Method. 

Eventually, your strength will increase and your hands will get stronger. In no time, you will be doing the full rope climb and it won't be uncomfortable. 

The Rope Climb's Ancient Origins

In history, the rope climb is probably one of the oldest training tools that has been used. It certainly has been part of military training for as long as warfare and ropes have existed.

It's simply such a practical skill to be able to climb walls in order to siege your enemy. Ropes have had lots of utility in many aspects of life for millennia. 

As a result, many ancient cultures have developed sophisticated systems of rope training. They didn't just climb the rope up and down but rather utilized the tool to its full capacity.

During Renaissance, Girolamo Mercuriale wrote a book called "De Arte Gymnastica". In this book the author outlined many exercises using the ropes (in addition to other tools such as stone blocks and stone balls).

At the time, people would do so many things with the rope: they would utilize the regular exercises but also use the rope horizontally for balancing and stability exercises.

They would also climb the rope in different postures and sometimes climb using 2 ropes at the same time.

In ancient India, many wrestlers would also train using the ropes and even hanged weights to the other end of the rope. Then they either did horizontal pulling or pulled vertically different loads of weight. 

The Rope Will Make You Strong, But You Need to Use It Systematically & Progressively

rope climb eero

When it comes to building real raw and functional strength, the rope climb is one of the best tools you can use.

The instability of the rope, the vertical grip and the thickness of the rope turn it into a beast that is hard to match. No wonder, rope climb has one of the highest neuromuscular activation levels out there.

Another reason why modern people don't like the rope that much is because it doesn't have clear indicators of progress such as simple repetitions or an amount of weight you can track. 

But you should never be concerned about these "ego numbers" anyway – you should only be concerned about getting as strong as you can, whether you can accurately track it or not.

Practice the rope climb and you should see massive benefits in your upper body strength and even abdominal development (the instability of the rope forces the abdominals to engage a lot more).

Most importantly, you will develop hands and grip that are unmatched in the world of fitness. This strength will transfer incredibly well into anything that you do.

As explained previously, you don't need to start practicing full rope climbs straight off the bat. Start with the simple and easy exercises and gradually work your way up. 

This is what we do in Iron King Method as well. 

For example, we will cover:

  • Different systematic progressions for the full rope climb.
  • Advanced and special rope climb grips and techniques.
  • Horizontal pulling, hangs and more.
  • Exercises from easy to difficult in a progressive manner so everyone can practice and learn.

You can learn more about this new method at

Stay strong.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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