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How to Climb Rope
Like a Marine

Rope climbing will give you a tremendous full body workout, even if you never decide to become a Marine, Navy Seal or an Army Ranger. Who knows, being able to climb up or down a rope may even save your life some day. Soldiers and combat athletes have been using climbing ropes for training exercises for thousands of years with the biggest reasons being that this exercise is simple and very, very effective.

I originally sent out this information in a recent email but several people who were interested in getting started in rope climbing asked us for some details and even some pictures to illustrate these points... so here we go (Pictures courtesy of Cpl. Serena DeFilippis, U.S. Marine Corps (Released))

First of all, when you are ready to climb, it is a good idea to make sure that you have a good pair of boots. You'll know why in a second. There are many different ways to climb ropes but the simplest to learn is as follows:

The rope itself is going to go between your legs, out around your knee/calf and back between the insteps of your boots.

Marines Rope Climbing
The rope goes between the instep.

With the rope like this, clamping your feet together acts like a brake and ideally, you should be able to support yourself in this position without using your hands and arms.

The basic idea of this drill is that you are going to 'inchworm' up the rope using the "brake and squat" technique. Climb up the rope by bending your legs, loosening the brake between your feet. Then once you straighten your legs, pull yourself up the rope about a foot or two and repeat until you reach the top.

Marines Rope Climbing
Loosen your feet and pull yourself up.

Beginners should get "the hang" of this technique in no time.

Marines Rope Climbing
Your boots act like a clamp as you make your way up the rope.
While it does use a fair bit of upper body strength, this technique actually conserves quite a bit of energy for the most important part of the drill - getting down. Holding the extended position is a very good exercise too, if you don't have much room to climb. As also mentioned in a previous email, you can also try "squats" in this position for a real killer.

As you get stronger, you can gradually move onto more challenging climbing techniques such as climbing your rope with the legs extended, two ropes, upside down, etc.

Train hard.

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John Wood




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