Working out with conditioning ropes is not a new concept in strength training and has been gaining popularity. The most common rope training techniques involve climbing and undulating, or maneuvering the ropes in specific patterns. What makes rope training effective is that they are thick and heavy, which requires strong hands and muscle endurance. The most common types of ropes used are manila, poly-Dacron and nylon. There are several factors to consider when selecting the best rope for your needs.
Manila ropes are rugged and made from natural fibers. New manila ropes are typically treated with petroleum based mineral oil to help prevent mold. This may cause the ropes to have an odor and feel a little greasy at first. Over time this will wear off and because of this, they should not be left outdoors, exposed to the elements. Manila ropes are rough, hard on your hands and tend to fray. If you don't wear gloves, small pieces can stick into your skin. Because they tend to shed, manila ropes are best suited for outdoor, garage or basement workouts.
Poly-Dacron ropes are basically nylon ropes with a poly-propylene core and an outer coating of Dacron. This type of construction gives the rope a smooth finish and makes it soft to the touch and easier on your hands. Because of its slippery finish, they can be harder to hold onto when doing rope climbing workouts. Compared with manila ropes, poly-Dacron ropes last longer and are a better choice for outdoor use -- they hold up well to UV rays and the elements.
Nylon ropes are widely used in many gyms, especially those that have a large female membership. Nylon ropes are very flexible, soft to the touch, have a silky feel and are easy on your hands. This type of conditioning rope doesn't fray and if used outdoors, holds up well to the elements. A few drawbacks to nylon ropes are that they can stretch over time and can unravel. Nylon ropes are generally available in white or black.
Basic Conditioning Rope Specs
Conditioning ropes used in undulating workouts typically come in 30-, 40- or 50-foot lengths. The standard length for climbing ropes is between 15 and 18 feet. The ropes are generally 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. The 1 1/2-inch poly-Dacron ropes weigh just under a 1/2 pound per foot and the 1 1/2-inch manila ropes weigh just over 1/2 pound per foot. The 2-inch manila ropes weigh slightly less than 1 pound per foot. Undulating ropes are equipped with rubber handles.
Considerations When Selecting a Rope
If you are new to conditioning ropes or you have small hands, use a 1/12-inch diameter rope. Whether rope climbing or doing undulating exercises, a smaller size doesn't require a lot of hand strength and makes it easier to hold onto. Use a shorter length rope if you are a beginner exerciser -- they are easier to maneuver with a full range of motion. If the rope is only used indoors, a poly-Dacron rope may be the best choice because it doesn't shed. White nylon ropes can become dingy with time and use, so you may want to select a black color.