20+ Rope Flow Benefits for the Body, Mind + Beyond

Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits of rope flow – a handy tool that you might want to add to your training arsenal. 

I stumbled upon the Weck method and some of their alternative training methods (including rope flow) early in 2020 before shit hit the fan.

From there, rope flow is something I’ve been practicing for a little while – initially quite diligently, but then more sporadically as I dealt with pesky long-covid health issues.

As I’ve recently made my way back into regular training and started playing around with the rope once again, in this article, I thought I’d share some of the benefits of rope flow that I’ve noticed.

I’ve split them into three main categories:

1. The practical
2. The physical
3. The mental & emotional

Note: these ideas are based on my experience and benefits reported by other rope flow users. I’m afraid they’re not confirmed in triple-blind in-vivo placebo-controlled studies.

Feel free to share your own rope flow experience and any benefits you’ve noticed by leaving a comment below.

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Benefit #1 - Rope Flow is Scalable

The rope is a tool that can benefit a wide cohort of people. 

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a fair few messages from people who’ve watched my rope flow videos. 

This includes people from all walks of life:

  • Competitive athletes
  • Kids and teenagers
  • Busy parents
  • People in their 70s and 80’s
  • People with health conditions and disabilities

My point being, you don’t have to have an extensive background in strength and conditioning to get something from rope training. It’s something that can be scaled well for a wide population.

Benefit #2 - Rope Flow is Accessible

Some of my favourite moment tools are those that are also accessible – they don’t necessarily cost a lot of money and can be relatively easy to get hold of.

Bodyweight training and walking are two great examples. Kettlebells could potentially fit in there, and rope flow too.

You certainly can pay more if you go through a specialist company, but you can also pick up some thick rope at a hardware store or online from a rope dealership for not a huge investment compared to other fitness tools.

If going the DIY route, I made my first thick rope using 16mm thick polyblend rope from Kanirope, but 12-14mm also works well. 

Benefit #3 - Safety First

I like using a variety of tools for building strength and movement skills.

Clubs are excellent; I really enjoy using sticks and staffs; and I’ve gotten a lot out of swinging clubs or macebells and kettlebells. They’re all amazing tools, but they come with their risks.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve conked myself over the head with a stick, and I’ve had some close calls with the mace too…

The rope allows you to safely practice many of the circular movement patterns that you would use with the above tools. The difference bing the level of risk. Sure, you’ll smack yourself in the legs with the rope a lot in the beginning, but I’d take that over a traumatic brain injury any day of the week.

In fact, when I was first struggling to learn the macebell 360 movement, I substituted it with a homemade heavy rope to dial it in. It was safer, easier to get more reps in, and when I went back to the mace, I’d learnt the 360 movement without snapping myself up in the process.

Benefit #4 - Portability

This one is pretty self explanatory. 

You can chuck a rope in your gym bag, take it to the beach, bring it on holiday with you or if you’re travelling for work or visiting loved ones.

Benefit #5 - Building Community

There’s a growing rope flow community across the world. Aside from the UK and USA, many of my viewers come from the Philippines and Australasia.

To be honest, it’s not a community that I’ve engaged in that much while I’ve been recovering from the health stuff.

But it’s great to see likeminded people and groups coming together to explore rope flow and other movement modalities. Community is a big thing when it comes to fostering both our physical and mental health. 

Speaking of which, let’s get onto some of the physical benefits of rope flow. 

Benefit #6 - Downloading Athletic Intelligence

Weck talks about using the rope to download athletic intelligence. Essentially, rope flow patterns may act as the foundation for many of the motions that make us human and allow us to figure out the most efficient transfer of energy.

Learning a few basic rope patterns potential to transfer over to many movements that are central to so many physical activities and athletic endeavours. Jogging, sprinting, striking, throwing, kicking, swimming, climbing and beyond. 

I’ve not had as much chance as I’d like to really test this out as much as I’d like due to the health stuff over the last few years. But I’ve had little glimpses of it during a period of light bouldering where despite minimal training other than some light rope flow and occasional kettlebell swings, I had mostly maintained my climbing level and felt that certain movements were a little easier.

Similarly with striking on the heavy bag and kicking a football around. My ability to shift my weight from side to side and rotate through the ball/bag seems to have improved and those movements feel easier than I remember. 

Maybe the rope flow helped, maybe it was just a coincidence!

Related: Follow Along Rope Flow Session for Beginners

Benefit #7 - Builds Core Strength & Function

A lot of modern ‘functional’ core work focuses on bracing, anti-extension, anti rotation.

While these skills can be useful for developing maximal strength, one of the primary functions of the core in many athletic situations is the ability to rotate or coil. This is often missing from conventional strength training programs.

In the 1980s, Serge Gracovetsky discussed the idea of the spinal engine – how the undulation, transverse + frontal movements of the spine are what allowed our early amphibian ancestors to swim, and this same motion is what drives the motion of our limbs in locomotion and other movement patterns.

 

We see this combination of side bending and rotating so the head is over the foot in sprinting, throwing a ball or a punch, and various other movement patterns.

We rarely ever move in straight lines, directly through the sagittal plane. More often than not, we coil through the spine in order to run, crawl, throw, swim, paddle, climb, grapple, and strike.

If most of our human movements are based around rotation, does it not make sense to make that part of our physical training practice?

Benefit #8 - Improve Coordination and Timing

Rope flow can be used to develop a sense of coordination and timing that may well have a degree of transfer over to other movement patterns. 

The rope itself can be a great teacher in that we get direct feedback if our timing is slightly off. This might be a wonky-looking path of the rope or a sharp clip around the back of the leg. 

As we make those subtle adjustments in our body positioning to not get hit with the rope, or to create a smoother arc, we’re naturally improving our sense of timing. 

Benefit #9 - Enhanced Mobility and Stability

Mobility is our ability to move freely through individual joints and multi-joint movement patterns.

The rope is a great way to develop mobility, particularly through the shoulders, but also through the spine, hips, and wrists. 

It’s gentle and allows us to get in a lot of repetitions, gradually opening up our range of motion through individual joints, and through the various fascial trains that many conventional strength patterns don’t address.

Related: 6 Rope Flow Mobility Exercises for Enhanced Flow

Benefit #10 - Improved Posture

While there’s no one perfect posture, modern day habits like sitting, chronic stress and trauma can encourage the body towards a more closed position, which can be limiting. 

Many rope flow movements, take the dragon roll for example, require you to open through the front body, engage the back and glutes and many of the tissues that allow us to be more open and upright. 

The result is that we can breathe more freely and we’re in a more balanced ready position for whatever comes our way.

Benefit #11 - Build Explosive Power

The rope acts as a conduit, a connecting tool which allows more efficient transfer of force. I see it as one way to bridge the gap between conventional strength training and sports performance. 

When we think of developing power, we’re looking at force x velocity. Practices like olympic lifting and kettlebells are excellent for developing the ability to move relatively high to moderate loads at high to moderate speeds. Rope flow deals with the often neglected other end of the spectrum – moving a light weight at very high speeds. It can be an excellent complement to more conventional power based training. 

Benefit #12 - Develop Agility

Agility is our ability to change direction at speed. 

Underpinning this is balance – our capacity to shift from side to side, front to back.

The various rope flow patterns give us plenty of time to practice shifting our weight and can be taken further by incorporating various footwork patterns. 

Benefit #13 - Enhanced Endurance

Rope flow can be a low-impact and fun way to develop endurance – our ability to sustain a bout of effort over an extended period. 

We can work at both ends of the spectrum:

  • Slow, easy, zone 2 base building training. Going at a casual pace for 20+ minutes, maintaining easy, nasal breathing.
  • At the other end we can go all out, pushing the pace in shorter sprint intervals, potentially even with a heavier rope.
  • Both have their value, and there’s plenty of scope for working in between. 

Read more: 4 Ways to Build Heroic Cardio with Rope Flow

Benefit #14 - Warm Up & Cool Down

During our warm up we’re looking to prep the joints, get the heart rate and body temp up a bit, and ideally mimic some movement patterns we’re going to perform in the main session. Rope can be a great tool for your warmup before strength training, running, and various sports. 

You can also use it to support recovery post-training or on rest days. It’s a low-impact, low-effort way to get the blood flowing, deliver nutrients around the whole body, lubricate the joints and facilitate the recovery process.

Benefit #15 - Stress Release

Any form of movement can be a useful way to manage and maintain a healthy stress response in the body.

Rope flow lends itself quite well in this area for a number of reasons, some of which we’ll get into in more detail shortly.

Whether you jump through the rope or simply shift your weight from side to side, you mimic the act of shaking – something we see many mammals do to release stress from the body after a life-or-death siutation. 

Benefit #16 - Soothing Anxiety

Anxiety is a multifaceted challenge, and there’s no one-size-fits-all all approach.

There is, however, a body pattern of anxiety that seems to be common. It could be roughly described as forward and down, rounding over in a protective shell. Over time we can habituate this pattern which can restrict our breathing and exacerbate feelings of anxiety further.

Many rope flow movements like the dragon role involve a gentle, repetitive opening of the front of the body. It’s a great way to help encourage the body out of that closed-up position, allowing us more space through the chest and the abdomen. So we can breathe freely, and stand taller. This can, in turn potentially reduce anxiety.

I can’t say it will be for everyone, but I know that it’s been a useful tool in managing my own mental health challenges. It’s yours to experiment with.

Benefit #17 - Finding Focus & Flow

The rope can be a useful tool for developing the skill of paying attention.

Learning the initial patterns (and then later on the more complex movements) requires a certain degree of focus on the instruction how that translates to coordinating your body. 

After that initial learning period, the movements begin to feel more intuitive, and you’ll start to find yourself getting lost in a flow state. Rope flow can then become a kind of moving meditation. 

There is interesting research around how the flow state can help people in overcoming the devastating impacts of trauma. Spending more time in that creative, limitless state seems to give the body evidence that there is hope beyond the suffering.

Benefit #18 - Learning to Learn

Any time we commit to learning a new skill, we’re honing our ability not just in that skill, but in our ability to learn other skills too. We’re learning to learn. 

The same goes for the rope. You learn how to break movements down, how to practice efficiently and effectively. How a few intentional repetitions may be greater than thousands of mindless ones. 

Then how to integrate individual movements together into chains of 2-3, and finally how to enter that flow state where everything is linked and the possibilities are endless.

Benefit #19 - Cultivating Creativity & Play

One thing I really like about rope flow is that it doesn’t necessarily have to take that long to get to the stage where you’re able to improves and express your creativity. 

Like many disciplines, you first learn the basic rules in order to break them and realise that there are no rules. You can vary the tempo, direction and flow of your practice and really make it your own. 

Creativity goes hand in hand with the idea of play. Play is something we all do as children, and less so as adults for various reasons. The rope is an excuse to enter that childlike state of exploration, doing something just because it’s fun and feels good in your body. It’s freeing. 

Benefit #20 - Embracing Discomfort & Building Resilience

Learning with the rope comes with a noticeable but tolerable level of discomfort. Whenever you learn a new movement, there will be a phase of failure, often accompanied by a whip on the back of the leg from the rope. 

Embracing and working through this discomfort and perfecting your movements carries valuable lessons that we can potentially apply in other situations. 

It can be a chance to reframe our perception of failure and even pain. These are not necessary always negative things. In fact, they are in many cases necessary and valuable in helping us learn and grow.

Benefit #21 - Enjoying Nature

Physical training doesn’t always have to look like lifting barbells in a brightly lit, noisy, overcrowded gym. Not always my idea of fun…

Rope flow can be a great excuse to get out and move your body in nature. It’s highly portable and easy to throw in a bag and head for the beach, mountains or park. I’ve had great fun messing around barefoot on the sand before heading in for a dip. 

Over to You

I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments section below if there are any rope flow benefits you’ve noticed in your own life. 

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Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a Movement Coach, Wellness Enthusiast, Online Content Creator, and Founder of HERO Movement. Through articles, videos, courses, and online coaching, his big goal is to help people discover freedom of movement and create lives filled with well-being & adventure.

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