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 Rokas at OctoMoves, who I’ll mention again shortly, along with 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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We’ve used the rope as a training tool for hundreds if not thousands of years – potentially even back to ancient Egypt. These days, it’s synonymous with boxing, 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, if we get a bit more creative, we can use the rope in a different way, gain more potential benefits, and have more fun.
For the type of rope flow training I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been using a thicker, heavier rope. I got my initial rope from a rope dealership online. It’s a nylon blend that’s about 4 metres long and weighs around 350 grams.
I’ve since used a few specialist ropes from Octomoves, and they’re excellent:
I used a series of knots to shorten the rope so it comes somewhere between the bottom of my ribcage to the hop of my pelvis if I stand in the middle of it and hold it up to my sides, like so:
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.
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.
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.
👉 You might also like: 7 Essential Rope Training Tips for Beginners & Beyond
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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