The best exercise you’re not doing
Everyone knows the pull-up is an important exercise and a key indicator of a strong, mobile body. However, one simple tweak can turn this upper body staple into an even more functional movement guaranteed to help you build beastly upper-body strength.
Introducing the rope pull-up. This movement is done in a similar way as a normal pull-up; however, instead of holding on to a regular pull-up bar, you’ll be using a rugged length of rope. Your hands will also be in a more neutral position (palms facing inwards) compared to a regular pull-up that requires hand pronation (palms facing away from you). Here are a few reasons why you need to include the rope pull-up in your program.
1. Increased muscle fiber activation
If you want to be able to pull yourself up, you’ll have to squeeze the rope tight in order to hold on. This squeeze will force your body to recruit more muscle fibers in order to elicit a more powerful training response than you might get from a regular pull-up. By increased training response, we mean more gains!
2. Recruit more muscles
By using a rope for your pull-ups, you will need to use more muscles in your hands and forearms in order to complete the movement. This is, of course, in addition to the back, biceps and shoulder muscles already needed to perform a regular pull-up. More muscles activated means this exercise gives you more bang for your buck.
3. More functional
Using a rope for your pull-ups gives you much more functional pulling strength. The rope simulates a more real-life situation, not everything you will need to lift has a perfectly formed handle with knurling for extra grip or a cushy pad to protect your hands. If you ever need to scale the side of a building or cliff with a rope, you’ll definitely be prepared!
4. Grip strength transfer
Training the hand and forearm muscles needed to hold on to the rope will help with your other big lifts. Gripping the bar with crushing strength for exercises, like the deadlift and bench press, will allow you to activate more muscle fibers as we mentioned previously. So don’t be surprised if your usual working weights start to feel lighter!
This new way of pulling on the vertical plane will add some new variation to your training. If you’re stuck at a certain amount of reps or weight for your regular pull-ups, switching to rope pull-ups for some time just might help you to get passed that sticking point! The new stimulus could also help to initiate some new growth in your back and arms.
6. Sport Specific
The rope pull-up is a much more of a sport specific movement than a regular pull-up because of the extra demand for hand and forearm strength. Most athletes would benefit from a stronger grip when it comes to their athletic performance. Whether you need to hold on to a football tighter or toss an opponent on their head, a strong grip is always an asset. No wonder athletes love this exercise so much!
If you don’t have rope at your gym that you can throw over a bar to perform this amazing exercise, you can always use a few hand towels, which will have a similar effect. Make sure to include rope pull-ups in your program to build functional upper-body pulling strength!