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Rope Flow Training Tutorial: 3 Key Exercises + How to Get Started

Rope training or rope flow is something I’ve been experimenting with over the past few months as a part of my cardiovascular training (and for the sake of learning new skills). 

I’ve been enjoying the process & noticed numerous benefits that have the potential to transfer over to other practices. Gains in mobility, co-ordination, cardiovascular fitness, mindfulness and beyond.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the basic principles with you, along with a few key rope training exercises.

I want to preface this article and video by saying that I don’t class myself as an expert with rope flow. I’ve learned a lot from people like David Weck of The Weck Method – an innovator in rotational training.  

Below I’ve collated the 80:20 – the foundational movements and ideas to help you get started with rope training, and get flowing. 

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What is Rope Flow Training?

Humans have used the rope as a training tool for hundreds if not thousands of years – potentially even back to ancient Egypt. These days, the jump rope is synonymous with boxing and mixed martial arts, and often makes an appearance in functional fitness training modalities like CrossFit.

Traditionally, we might think of jump rope training using a thin school-gym style skipping rope – holding the rope by your side and skipping through it as you flip it forwards or back.

While this is a valid training method, rope flow instead uses rotational movement patterns to dance the rope around the body. The idea is that we’re practising the skill of coiling through the core – a combination of side bending and rotating.

This mimicks the motion seen in various athletic movement patterns – throwing, striking, swimming, sprinting, scrawling, swimming, climbing and beyond. 

What type of rope do you need?

For the type of rope flow training I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been using a thicker, heavier rope than a standard jump rope

I got my initial rope from a rope dealership online. It’s a nylon blend that’s about 4 metres long, 16mm thick and weighs around 350 grams. I’ve since been sent various ropes from the guys at Octomoves that are lighter and thinner, but still thicker than your standard jump rope. 

I used a series of knots to shorten the rope so it comes somewhere between the bottom of my ribcage to the top of my pelvis if I stand in the middle of it and hold it up to my sides, like so:

Rope Training Length
Rope Training Length 2

What are the Benefits of Rope Flow Training?

You can check out this more in-depth article on the benefits of rope flow, but I’ve also listed a few below: 

  1. Portability. A rope is a fairly inexpensive tool and is easily transportable. 
  2. Shallow learning curve. When learning the ropes (pun intended), you don’t have to invest a lot of time to nail the basics. And when you have the basics, you can move onto improvisation or flow training fairly quickly.  
  3. Versatility. You can easily alter the intensity of your rope training workout, going slow and steady to improve your Zone 2 cardiovascular fitness, or upping the pace for high intensity interval training.
  4. Lymph flow. Bouncing on the balls of your feet (as you would in conventional jump rope training) acts as a pump that encourages lymph flow around the body. The lymph system is effectively your body’s waste removal system.
  5. Athletic transfer. The drills I’ll demonstrate all include a degree of rotational movement. As I touched on above, if you look at pretty much any athletic movement pattern – running, throwing, striking, climbing, swimming – they all involve rotation. Rope training also helps to hone a sense of timing and co-ordination to keep the rope flowing. It appears to be a great feedback mechanism for many ‘functional’ movements.
  6. Mobility. The rotational movement helps to unlock the thoracic spine, which is often locked down due to sitting and postural restrictions. Indeed, Rokas at OctoMoves talks about ‘igniting your spinal engine’. When I finish up a rope session, my back feels loose & pain free. Related: 6 Rope Flow Mobility Exercises for Enhanced Flow
  7. Mindfulness. When you begin to string the rope movements together, it’s fairly easy to enter a flow state, almost like a moving meditation. This goes for many other forms of movement like running or swimming, but I find it comes easier with rope training (although this may just be because it’s something novel).

How to Get Started With Rope Flow Training: 3 Key Movements

Rope Exercise 1: the Underhand Stroke 🏌️‍♂️

For the first two drills, it helps to first practise without the rope. Placing your hands together, you’re essentially going to make a sideways figure 8 or infinity sign in front of you, leading with your pinky, starting from bottom to top.

As well as the arm movements, there’s a side bend and rotation through the thoracic. Get that rhythm down for 8-10 reps, then introduce the rope. 

Notice that this torso movement is very similar to that seen when throwing an uppercut. Interestingly, my dad was recently watching a video breaking down Rory McIlroy’s golf swing, and it’s this exact same motion – side bend and rotate. It’s also present in a more subtle manner when you’re sprinting. This drill is a nice way to practice that pattern and program it into the body. 

When you can comfortably perform the underhand stroke on both sides, you can also introduce some motion through the hips – pushing off the ball of the foot on the same side that you’re rotating from, as you would when hitting a ball.

Rope Training Guide Underhand
Underhand Rope Training
Underhand Rope Training 3

Rope Exercise 2: the Overhand Stroke 🤾

As the name suggests, the overhand stroke is basically the opposite of the underhand. 

Again, start with the hands together, but this time we’re leading with the index finger from top to bottom. 

Get comfortable, performing a few sets of 8-10 repetitions, then introduce the rope.

Overhand Rope 1
Overhand Rope 2

As you can see below, the overhand pattern looks a lot more like an overhand punch or throwing a ball or spear. 

It’s more of a downwards chopping motion. So we still have that side bend and rotation, but coming from top down instead of scooping from the bottom up.

Rope Throwing Mechanics 1
Rope Training Throwing Mechanics 2
Rope Training Throwing Mechanics 3

Rope Exercise 3: The Dragon Roll 🐉

The next drill looks and feels a lot different to the previous two, and has a cooler name. It also looks impressive. It appears that you’re jumping through the rope, but through some expert movement wizardry, you’re actually not. 

There are a few more steps to learning the Dragon Roll:

  1. The Rope Flip. Start with the rope in front of you, touching the floor. Practise looping it over your head onto the floor behind you, then back again. Perform a few sets of 8-10 reps before moving on.
  2. The Broken Dragon. When this feels comfortable, start with the bottom of the rope off 45 degrees to your left side, and your torso rotated towards it. Then drag it along the floor to your right side (the opposite 45 degree angle). Flip it over your head, drag the rope along the floor to return to facing your left side, and flip it back over to your front. Rest and repeat.
  3. One Dragon Cycle. After breaking the Dragon Roll down into its individual parts, you’re then going to put it together with more fluidity. Stick to one full rotation at a time for now: turn – drag – flip – turn – flip. Take a pause, then practice it again.
  4. Full Dragon Roll. When this becomes comfortable, you can eliminate the stop and continue to flow. Get proficient on one side with the full Dragon Roll before trying the opposite direction.
The Dragon Roll Rope Movement 1
The Dragon Roll Rope Movement 2
The Dragon Roll Rope Movement 3

4 Ways to Vary Your Rope Training & Begin to Flow

1. Vary Your Speed

Start slow, but when you feel you have a good grasp of the rope basics, you can play with increasing the speed of your rotations. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, and you’ll feel more involvement of the core. 

2. Add Forward + Lateral Movement

Forwards and backwards movements can make the rope movements more challenging and fun. You can also add lunges and squat variations to up the intensity.

3. Add Full Body Rotations

You can transition from underhand to overhand stroke by using a propeller-like movement, rotating your body 180 degrees on the upwards portion of an underhand stroke. Likewise with an overhand stroke – continue the motion as you turn towards the rope.

4. Chain Movements Together

There are endless combinations of movements you can play with in rope training, particularly when you pick up more than the three I’ve mentioned. 

One that I quite like is chaining the Overhand stroke with a Dragon Roll. So the downwards phase of an Overhand stroke can become the start of a Dragon Roll, which then becomes an Overhand stroke on the opposite side.

You’ll be able to come up with much more creative patterns than me. Share them with me in the comments section below!

Rope Flow Training: Summary

Step 1: DIY or purchase a rope. If you opt to buy one, Hero Movers currently get 15% off Octomoves Ropes with code HERO*

Step 2: Practice the three basic movement patterns: Underhand, Overhand & Dragon Roll.

Step 3: Start each session with basics, then integrate movements with rotations or chaining them together.

Step 4: Improvise, flow, incorporate it into your other training and enjoy.

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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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