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Battling the complications

I purchased a pair of heavy ropes last week, for use both as battling ropes and as climbing ropes to hang out of our bag frame. I’ve been playing with them since. For those of you who don’t know what battling ropes are, here’s a 7 second video of me using them on Monday night.

They’re pretty hard to do and our ropes are little thicker and longer than most as they double as climbing apparatus. I’ve been meaning to get some for quite a while as I wanted some equipment that fulfilled the following criteria:

  • indoor
  • can be used on mats
  • easy to set up
  • easy to use (relatively skill-free)
  • fun, and by that I mean engaging as a team exercise
  • cheap

So let me emphasise that these are not the be all and end all. They’re a fairly brutal method of conditioning, particularly as they’re almost exclusively upper body, although you can use them for slams in the same way you might use a medicine ball for triple extension, but they’re by and large going to work upper body muscular endurance. They are going to be a great tool in the gym and I already set a record on the ropes last night for this challenge:

  1. 20 double whips (aka slams)
  2. 20 alternating small whips
  3. 10 hi-lo chops per side
  4. 20 alternating big whips
  5. 20 inside/outside circles

I completed this in 1.15seconds, stone cold, so I’d expect to get a better time when I warm up. But the marker is down and I think some people could go under 1 minute for these in a few weeks.

But like I said, these are just one tool among many, and I’ll use them to augment my current regime of pushing, pulling, dragging, climbing, squatting, deadlifting, carrying… and so on.

Hanley using the ropes

Strength and fitness should be simple. There’s a time for science and a time for detail, but mostly it’s just time to do something, anything. You spend the vast majority of your day in a relatively static position, so moving in anyway at all is best.

In my gym we have this frame. You walk up the stairs and into reception, then through the narrow door into the training room and literally right in front of you, hanging from webbing straps, is our pull up bar. I hung it there intentionally. A good method of improving your pull ups and strength generally would be to never arrive or leave the dojo without doing some pull ups. Then if you walk along the edge of the mats, you’ll pass some punch bags and meet the gym rings, and a good method of keeping your back healthy and getting yourself stronger would be to lie on your back and pull yourself up to those rings as many times as you could every time you passed them.

Sure we need structure, sure we need goals and plans. But sometimes we need simple things like just doing more of what is good for us. And less bitching and whining. For the love of jeebus less bitching and whining. Just get on with it. Life, training, whatever… just get on with it. It’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable first and foremost, and even the things you hate- be it shrimping, lifting weights, drilling- can be made far more enjoyable with a positive attitude and a grin and bear it disposition.

So here’s an example of a simple goal. l currently have a climbing rope hanging from my frame. It’s about 3 metres high. Last night I sat on my arse with the rope in my hands and without the use of my legs (trying to keep them in front of the rope) from the seated position climbed about 1.5 metres up the rope before my grip gave out. In February, I will do this as often as possible until I can get all the way to the top. Once I’ve done this, I know I will have a stronger grip and stronger arms. Sometimes it’s that simple. No strength tests, no body composition checks, no equations. I either climb it, or I don’t.


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