Long before Rich Froning’s famous fall that saw him lose the 2010 CrossFit Games to Graham Holmberg, climbing ropes have been a staple of CrossFit and functional fitness. Why? Because they train your upper body strength and endurance in ways that few other exercises can.
And as Rich found out, they are one of the ultimate tests of fitness. After all, there’s not really a graceful way to find out you can’t complete a rope climb.
Whether you’re a box owner, home gym enthusiast, or looking to add climbing ropes to your training, the right type of climbing rope is important. In this guide, we’ll look at how to buy the best ropes, how to use them in your CrossFit training, and the benefits of adding them in.
In a Hurry? Here are the Best Climbing Ropes for CrossFit
RogueFitness Climbing Rope
|View on Rogue Fitness|
Power Guidance Climbing Rope
|View on Amazon|
Valor Fitness CLR-25
|View on Amazon|
Overall #1 Pick
Updated As of 03/18/20
When considering ropes for CrossFit workouts, our #1 pick went to the Rogue rope.
Rogue offers a reasonably priced rope that gives you the same experience as the top athletes competing in the CrossFit Games each year. Their longest option is just over $130, which is higher than the others, but more reasonable than Rogue gear sometimes is.
One thing you’re paying extra for is their preventative deterioration measures. For example, the braided loop comes with a small amount of extra material that appears to be frayed edges. In actuality, it’s there to absorb moisture which will delay the rope fibers breaking down.
Top 3 Best CrossFit Climbing Ropes
Check out our below list for a summary of our results. Keep on reading to learn more about your climbing rope options!
What Is a Crossfit Climbing Rope?
The standard rope climb in a CrossFit workout is 15 ft high, but they’re sold at lengths as long as 50 ft. Like any good gym equipment, a good climbing rope has to be made of durable, high quality material that holds up under pressure. In the case of climbing ropes, a good workout and safety are equally important.
Most CrossFit climbing ropes are designed for indoor workouts, though some are sold specifically for outdoor use. Check to make sure before mounting your rope outside if the elements will destroy your rope or make it unsafe to climb.
How to Use a Climbing Rope to Workout?
Before beginning any climbing rope workout, make sure the rope is securely attached to the ceiling. In CrossFit, there are two styles of rope climbs: the basic and legless rope climb.
Basic Rope Climb
The basic rope climb uses footwork that can be tricky to learn at first. The first time you successfully “get” rope climbing footwork is one of those joyous occasions similar to nailing your first muscle-up or handstand hold. Once you figure out the footwork, it’s almost shocking how easy rope climbs become (at least relative to how you pictured it).
This video walks you through three variations of rope climb footwork.
The “J” wrap technique (1:30 in) is the best technique for beginners. Basically, the rope starts on the outside part of the right knee and runs down and underneath the foot. The left foot then “scissors” the rope into a J shape, locking it to the inside part of the right foot. It should feel tight under your foot and not slip. If it’s slipping, you aren’t putting pressure in the right spot.
This, of course, takes practice. As you’ll see, the athlete in the video starts practicing the footwork from a plyo box. This allows her to focus on footwork first and gives her feedback when she pulls herself off it. If her foot comes loose, she’s done it wrong.
The Legless Rope Climb
As CrossFit athletes have evolved, we’ve seen exercises that were initially considered advanced become routine or obsolete. For example, the basic handstand push-up has evolved to deficit and ring HSPUs. This is because CrossFit Games athletes keep improving and the original movement is now too easy for them. The legless rope climb became popular for this reason, too.
This video explains the legless rope climb.
Basically, the key to getting your butt up the rope is in the kip or forward hip thrust that creates momentum up the rope. If you’re adding these to a CrossFit workout, don’t try and muscle your way up. Focus on getting in a rhythm with your kips like you would with pull-ups.
Benefits of Crossfit Climbing Rope
Rope climbs train your upper body pulling muscles like the biceps, lats, and shoulders. You also get a great deal of grip training with rope climbs.
Though the basic and legless rope climb are performed differently, they also develop core strength, stabilization, and require you to be coordinated. Like most movements in CrossFit, they are compound, full body exercises.
Considerations Before Buying
Here are some things to consider before adding a climbing rope to your CrossFit box or home gym.
Climbing ropes are generally made of manila hemp or thick nylon. For CrossFit, you’ll want to stick with the manila hemp style as it frays less and holds up longer. This material is what you will commonly find in military bases and shipyards as well. If you’re planning to mount your ropes outside, make sure you research how the material reacts to rain, snow, and humidity.
All CrossFit equipment needs to be durable. Ropes are no exception. Some of the softer on hands ropes do need to be broken in; they are too slippery at first. So this is a matter of having patience, or using chalk so they are not too slippery.
The thickness of the rope is important for a good grip with your hands and for getting your feet around it if you are doing the basic climb. The common diameter that will fit most adult’s hands is 1.5″.
Depending on your ceiling height, you’ll need a specific length of rope. Rogue offers 5 lengths ranging from 6 ft to 30 ft. If you have low ceilings, paying for extra rope length doesn’t make sense. Hemp ropes may stretch over time. So give some slack and start them off at least 3 feet off the ground.
A good climbing rope will come with about 300 lbs of weight capacity. This can vary depending on the anchor point of the rope, which you should keep in mind for safety reasons.
Ease Of Installation
It goes without saying that it is extremely important that the rope stays in place after initial installation in the ceiling. Many of the ropes have an eye hook built in to ensure that they can be hooked in, or looped around easily in the ceiling. Safey first! Look for ones that have this feature, or make sure that you have ensured there is enough slack to loop properly and still have the rope reach the floor.
This rope comes up to 50 ft in length. Reviewers of the Power Guidance climbing rope say that they’re quite impressed that the rope holds up and does not fray or break down after several uses. This can be a problem with other ropes. You’ll often find a pile of hemp dust at the bottom of one that’s worn-in.
As a feature to consider, the Power Guidance rope comes with the choice of either indoor or outdoor. Just make sure you let it dry out if used outside and it gets wet.
Reasonably priced at $61 for 25 ft of rope, the Valor Fitness climbing rope has no poor reviews. Users boast that it holds up, anchors easily, and has been a hassle-free addition to their home gym or box.
It’s listed as an indoor rope that needs to be stored in a dry space, though some reviewers say they anchor it outside with no problems.
Rope climbing can be fun once you get into it. Not all ropes are created equal, and not all brands can be trusted with safety. We have limited our choices here since these brands have a strong following and have been tested by various users. Always use some padding or a safety net as an extra precautionary measure, and remember to have fun with this equipment!