Is it a Rope Trainer, a Suspension Trainer or a USA? None of the Above

I want to share today’s workout routine with you, because it was a little weird and kind of fun, and still gave me a great back workout and more. You might even want to try this, but real quick, some back story.

Since I made my first suspension trainer out of rope,
(you can read about it here:  I have had something of an obsession with the stuff. The rope that is.

The tire swing/climbing rope

I made a jumprope suspension trainer, pull-up handles with pvc and rope, I even made a tire swing/climbing rope with yellow 1 inch polyester rope.  Braiding the rope became a therapeutic pastime.  Take a 100′ foot length of rope, cut it into three or four equal lengths and braid it together.

It would be used for something, I just wasn’t sure what.

Then I saw the Universal Strength Apparatus (About the USA)
which could be called ‘suspended ladder training,’ since that is what it is. Two narrow ladders with multiple rungs. The rungs/handles are stiff, the rest is not. The nice part is there is no adjustment necessary, and you can do crazy things like ‘jumping dips’ to the next rung.

Bingo! Why not tie some handles into my braided ropes and use them like the universal strength apparatus? Using two braided ropes with loop handles tied in every few inches, I could hang them side by side and get a ‘suspended ladder training’ style workout.

Before the second one was done I tried it with one. I used the yellow and black hanging in the picture below by throwing it over my pull-up bar.

Hmmm, it was a little awkward, but good for pushups, flyes, body rows and the like. Still not a USA, though.

With a second braided rope of equal size, I tried again:
This wasn’t working. Does the contraption above look strange and uncomfortable? Yeah, it was, in a bad way. So I thought about it some more. In the meantime, the thicker blue rope (with only two handles) made the perfect suspension trainer, and was comfortable enough to get a full workout on. Adjusting by looping the ends around the pull-up bar is easy.

                                           Still, what to do with all this yellow and black rope?

Ahaaaa!! Rowing! 

Functional exercises are great, and in this case, you can target your back muscles as well. Which brings me to today’s workout, which consisted of standing in place pulling the weighted rope towards me in a hand over hand motion. Let me just say this beats the hell out of rowing a barbell or dumbbells, and IMHO, is better than sitting in front of a machine with cables.
In the pics above, you will notice a green rope and some pvc pipe. The original plan was to loop the braided rope end through the plates and tie a large knot to pull against the plates. But I found this pipe and rope sitting around, and that was that. The only tying involved was green rope to braided rope. Done.

One plate was good for getting a rhthym, but far too light for a decent workout. So I threw another 45# on. Much better. I probably knocked out 10 back and forth laps before doing a few pull-ups and curls and calling it a day. My lats were definitely worked and my arms as well. There were other advantages to this fun outdoor workout too.

1.) Core involvement. The hand-over-hand motion requires core rotation plus hip and glute stabilization; and who doesn’t want a tighter core and gluteus?

2.) Progressive Resistance: Because I was dragging these plates through the gravel, the closer it got, the harder it became. Also, the more weight you add, the greater the drag because it picks up even more gravel. This works well in sand, too.

This exercise/workout will be part of my permanent rotation from now on. There are a myriad of ways to use this. Put the handles in front and push, or hang them from your shoulders and pull like a sled dog. Either way, this satisfies my need for unusual, interesting and effective workout equipment!


To see the Universal Strength Apparatus for yourself:

Universal Strength Apparatus

For more great workout ideas:

Traveling Workout and Portable Gym and Exercise Equipment

Gymnastic Ring Workout Routines at Home

Every Pushup Exercise you can Think of and the Celebrities Who do them

How to Build Strong Back Muscles

A complete muscle-building program for free:

The Fast Muscle Program

Homemade Climbing Rope-Cheap and Easy

Climbing ropes are one of those pieces of equipment you can’t take any chances with. But with new ropes costing upwards of $120 + shippnig, I knew I had to find a way to make a homemade climbing rope for a lot less money.

Special thanks to the Home Depot guy who showed me how to braid the rope. I was able to set up a strong rope swing/slash climbing rope on the tree ni my backyard. The cost? About $20 bucks for the rope, and nothing for the two carabineers I already had on hand, which would have cost another $12-15 dollars.

Here are the results:

 At the time I was thinking more kid’s rope swing then climbing rope. It was only after I had tied the knots in the rope that I realized I could climb it. 

To do this you will need:

-15-20′ feet of 3/4″ inch thick rope.(I used the poly rope as you can see. Confession, I bought it because it was cheap and strong, but it worked out fine and has tight knots.

-Carabineers to attach braided rope loop through and then to hang from fixed anchor.

-The ability to braid a rope. This is not as hard as it looks. If you can braid hair, you can braid the rope. This rope was braided back down the length of the rope which tightens the braid when the rope bears weight. (See below for close-ups.)

An upside down view.

Here is a close up of the braiding. See the tire hanging over the other end of the ladder? This is an old stroller tire I had in the garage. It was a perfect fit.

Another view of the braid.

All in all this has climbing rope/rope swing has taken a beating, been swung on by big kids, climbed on by me and lasted throughout an Arizona summer. I’ve moved it to the garage now. Sooner or later the sun out here will disintegrate those fibers! But for about $20 bucks it has more than proved its value.

A word of caution: Although the weight bearing load listed for this rope is over a thousand pounds, you should always check and double check the knots and anchor point, especially if this is doubling as a rope swing. While my experience has been excellent with this homemade climbing rope, I make no guarantees and anyone trying this does so at their own risk.

On that note, be safe and have fun!!!

The Spartacus Workout is here! Steve Maxwell has put together another amazing advanced training DVD. Check out The Spartacus Workout today.

Complete the Backyard Gym