Author | DIAKADI Intern Alicia Ruth If you want to know the ropes at DIAKADI, just ask Tom Armenta. His recent TKS session offered a fun and informative explanation of this powerful, unique, and challenging training tool. Tom, who is a seasoned ropes fan, explained the benefits of ropes training, demonstrated training techniques (from simple to complex movements) and threw in some less-commonly seen uses for ropes like using them for resistance training.
Ropes training can be a great addition to programs, to increase the intensity and add variety to routines while also offering unique physiological and psychological adaptations. These include increased oxygen consumption and cardiovascular endurance, as well as neuromuscular adaptations. Movement patterns while working ropes create a meditative state and increase mental toughness: imagine intense focus and effort performed to a hypnotic rhythmic motion. As Tom attests, "if you do this for a while, you'll be a badass."
Various grips and rope diameters can be used while training, as well as numerous wave techniques and body positions. To start simply, wrap the rope around a pole or other fixed object, grip the ends of the rope, and in a static or dynamic mini squat, position the arms at ninety degrees. Move the arms up and down alternately and continuously, creating waves in the rope that go all the way to its point of attachment. Different standing positions, kneeling, or even supine postures can modify the workout making this method good even for people living with disabilities or injuries, since ropes training does not require use of the legs and there is no need to run to increase the heart rate.
With that in mind, it is important to wisely incorporate ropes into a workout and be judicious about their frequency of use. Tom suggests working them into circuit workouts for anaerobic endurance (rather than using them for a full hour), and closely moderating their frequency and intensity of use. When he first began with ropes years ago, he was so excited about their versatility and hypnotic effects that he wanted to train with them all the time. But he quickly discovered the excessive strain this can put on the shoulders and the havoc it can wreak on the teres major and minor, which he charmingly calls the chihuahua muscles: "They're small, but they think they can do everything!" This is especially true if improper technique is used. He sees even a lot of experienced ropers work the upper arms too much. Instead he suggests relying on the mobility of the elbow joint to conduct power from the core, glutes, and legs. "Use your booty," he advises.
Small dogs excepted, ropes can be good for a variety of athletes. But for those new to exercise, save them for later, as well as those with weak core musculature and shoulder or low back concerns.
Watching an experienced athlete work the ropes seems simple - even beautiful - but Tom warned us, "you'll see, just after five minutes, it's hell." Sure enough, after trying a few drills, all of us were feeling the fun intensity fast.