ROY S. JOHNSON: Climb You Maggot!!

By Roy S. Johnson
Founder of Fit! Live! Win!
Follow @FitLiveWin on Twitter 

It’s so tough you don’t even see it at most gyms.

And just thinking about it takes me back to one of my childhood nightmares–being forced to do it over and over and over again until I either got it right, or collapsed in a puddle of tears.

I’m talking about rope climbing.

Yes, simply putting one hand on top of the other in a rhythmic cadence with your legs until you reach the top, then bounding down.

I dreaded the day during YMCA summer camp  when the counselor would line us up and make us climb. I was a chubby kid, but I could swim and play baseball pretty well. But I could not climb that damn rope.

It hurt my hands and even more so my adolescent pride. I was just too heavy, too scared, too everything–and failing that task remains one of my life’s challenges left undone.

Today, the rope climb has largely been replaced by rock- and wall-climbing–both excellent “sports” that test your fitness and daring. If you haven’t tried them, put at least one of them on your gotta-do list for ’12.

There are machines in the gym that replicate the rope climb. Not!

They replicate the arm motion (and they’re a good arm/cardio move) but not the climbing! These days about the only people you see actually climbing a rope are in the military–boot camp hell.

That’s why my friends at The Art of Manliness created a post called How to Climb a Rope Like a Navy Seal.

I coulda used this sucker years ago!

Try the rope machine in the gym as a part of your warmup, especially if it’s an upper-body day. It’ll give you a good stretch, both before and after lifting. Be sure to reach as high as you can on each rotation, and vary the resistance to work the muscles more.

Challenge yourself!

Roy S. Johnson is the founder of Fit! Live! Win! and former Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Fitness. Fit! Live! Win! was created to be the only workout buddy you’ll ever need, to help you challenge yourself with new workout moves, training regiments and eating strategies from the best trainers and nutritionists in the business. For more information about Roy S. Johnson and Fit! Live! Win! visit