How’s this for a flashback: You’re in gym class and your PE teacher asks you to climb a huge rope as fast and as high as possible. It’s just you, a rope that’s thicker than your ankle and the gymnasium floor. No net, no harness, no joke. But since you value your dignity more than your neck, you give it your best shot. 

While that teacher probably knew as much about fitness as a glazed doughnut, climbing a rope does have its benefits. If you want to wake up some hibernating lat fibers, try subbing this rope pull-up into your back routine. It targets the lower lats like a sniper, and along with what it does for your grip, this exercise might become a regular in your workout. 

No ropes at your gym? No problem. Just make sure that you sometimes do pulldowns one arm at a time, and superset them with standard chins and pull-ups. If possible, use a thick bar to help with grip strength. 

How to: The Rope Pull-Up

  • Attach two ropes to an overhead bar and grasp one in each hand.
  • Stand equidistant between the ropes with your arms extended and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Pull on the ropes and flex your lats to lift your feet off the floor. Pause with your arms still mostly extended before powerfully pulling yourself up as high as possible. 
  • Hold for a brief count, then slowly lower yourself back to the start. Repeat as many times as you can.
  • If this move is too difficult at first, begin with an easier version, keeping your feet on the floor: Grasp the ropes and lean back with your legs straight and feet flat on the floor. Pull yourself toward the ropes, squeezing your lats at the top. Lower yourself back to the start and repeat.

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