What Happened When We Replaced Lifting Weights With Rope Training

Tom Watkins
·3-min read
Photo credit: Tom Watkins
Photo credit: Tom Watkins

From Men's Health

What is Way of the Rope? Well, essentially, it’s swinging a rope. Do it right, though, and it promises to unlock mobility, boost all-round athleticism and build core strength. It was popularised in the US by the maverick trainer David Weck, as part of his WeckMethod. It has since been imported to the UK by the trailblazing trainer Timothy Shieff, who set up the Way of the Rope to provide punters with the kit and online tutorials they need to join the movement. It seeks to be a liberating antidote to the perceived weaknesses of more conventional methods of training.

What the Experts Say

“The rope is all about reconnection, using the body as one and understanding how energy flows through the system as a whole and not just to your chest and biceps,” says Angus Martin, founder of London gym Lift, which will bring the trend into its class structure once it reopens. “The fact is, we simply don't rotate enough, and the rope provides a wonderful tool to retrain our bodies to move through different planes. Rotational training is absolutely essential when it comes to building a body for longevity and general human function.”

Does It Work?

Ted Lane, commissioning editor

With the gyms closed during lockdown, I was forced to trial this trend online. It’s easy to join. Buy your rope and you’ll get an introductory course sent to your email. I set the rope length and started swinging. The figure of eights came easily – the aim being to let the rope skim the floor with every rotation. This gives the body an audio cue and helps with the timing.

Knitting it together with a dragon roll was harder: get it wrong and the rope gives you a painful clip around the ankles. The key was not to focus on speed: the faster I went, the more I failed. Shieff suggests doing this for two minutes per day, so I used it as my warm-up. It unlocked my shoulders after sitting at my desk, and training for coordination, rather than shifting weights, made me feel like a complete (recreational) athlete.

Photo credit: Tom Watkins
Photo credit: Tom Watkins

The Fundamentals

Master these three moves and combine them all together to start your own rope flows.

Underhand Figure 8

Swing the rope underhand, doing loops on one side. Let it swing across you. Move it from side to side with every loop, so it travels in a figure of eight.

Overhand Figure 8

Repeat the same movement with an overhand grip. Get comfortable with loops on one side before moving it from side to side for a figure of eight.

Dragon Roll

This bridges the two. Put the rope to one side, drag it to the opposite side and flick it diagonally over your head. Rotate and flick it forward to the start. Repeat.

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