John Brookfield's Grip Tips
By John Brookfield
Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength, The Grip Master’s Manual and Real-World Conditioning
Vertical Rope Pull-ups
In this Grip Tip I am going to share with you an absolute gold mine of an exercise. It is fairly new to me; in fact I have only been doing this exercise for about six months now. However, I have reaped huge rewards from it in more ways than one. It is one exercise that I look forward to doing so much that I have a tendency to over train on it. I was making great gains and I had to back off a little bit because my enthusiasm was causing me to do too much.
The set-up is very simple for getting started. I have told you before how productive chin-ups can be, especially for a large person. Well, this movement goes a couple of steps further. To begin you will need to find a thick rope from the hardware store. The one I use the most is 1-1/2 inches thick. I sometimes use another one that is over 2 inches thick. If you have trouble finding a rope 1-1/2 inches in thickness, you can also use a couple of thinner ropes and put them together to reach the thickness. A thick beach towel can also be used, but I recommend using a rope.
Once you find the rope, you will have to determine the right length. The object of the game here is to take your section of rope and toss it over a rafter, another chin-up bar, a swing set, or even a tree branch. Let it hang down so that you have two ends hanging vertically, one end for each hand. Reach with your arms extended upward, grasp the rope, and pull yourself up. Hold for a second and then lower yourself to the ground. Repeat the movement until fatigued.
If you are a large person, this type of rope chinning will be difficult, greatly stressing the entire lower arm while building your grip strength and hand toughness. This pull-up exercise can be made even more difficult if you try pulling yourself up with work gloves on. On the other side of the coin, you may need to make it easier. You can do this by standing on a stool or bench and pulling up with your legs to help you. In other words, slightly push up with your legs on the bench. As you get stronger, use your legs less and less until you can remove the stool or bench and do it the regular way. As you get stronger, you may also want to see how long you can hang from the rope without your feet touching the ground.
Vertical rope pull-ups are a tremendous way to build a grip of steel.
Editor's note: John Brookfield’s books Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, The Grip Master’s Manual, Training with Cables for Strength, and Real-World Conditioning combine John’s limitless creativity with his friendly, downhome manner. John’s articles are also regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.
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