Sam Dancer Regionals Legless Rope Climbs

Legless Rope Climbs: Hand Over Hand vs Kipping
Written by Hunter Britt

Legless rope climbs: everyone’s favorite movement! There are some common techniques that athletes use to get to the top of the rope when required to not use their legs.

Let us go over two different ways to shimmy the body up the rope using just the arms.

Hand-Over-Hand Rope Climbs

This technique is the fastest way to ascend the rope. The downside is that it tends to really tire an athlete out quickly, especially in their biceps, so it is best to do this when the athlete is fresh or has freakishly strong biceps and lats.

The key to hand-over-hand legless rope climbs is to keep quickly moving the hands and keep the arms bent, the entire time, in a flexed position.

A common fault that comes from this technique is when athletes continue to try to go hand-over-hand when their arms have become tired and become extended while hanging from the rope. Once the athlete gets to this point then it is vital that they transition to kipping.

Kipping Rope Climbs

This should be an athlete’s last resort in getting up the rope. This is the slowest technique, but puts the least amount of stress on the biceps. Most are pretty familiar with the sensation of kipping; we use momentum to “unweight” ourselves and then we execute the lifting phase in that window when we are weightless.

So, just like pull-ups, the arms are extended completely while hanging. The athlete will swing their legs back and then aggressively swing them forward. In that instance the athlete will then curl with the arms and reach up the rope.

The biggest fault with kipping on legless rope climbs is the exact opposite of the hand-over-hand technique;  athletes are kipping with bent arms, which is counter acting the goal. The athlete is putting more stress on the biceps than necessary by doing this. Instead, they need to think about being as long as possible on the rope and then aggressively driving their hips up the rope while simultaneously reaching as far up the rope as possible. Strong grip strength is necessary.

These are two different, but commonly used techniques. Go ahead and test yourself and find which option works best for you. It might be both, so really pay attention to how you are feeling.  You may need to start with the first option and then move to kipping.

Legless Rope Climb Test

Here is a good, simple way to test your legless rope climbs.

Every minute, on the minute, for 5 minutes:
1 Legless Rope Climb

Then just continue to increase the amount of reps per minute and after a couple times of running through this and increasing reps, you will become pretty familiar with which technique works best for you!


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