CrossFit Discussion Board  

Go Back   CrossFit Discussion Board > CrossFit Forum > Exercises
CrossFit Home Forum Site Rules CrossFit FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

Thread Tools
Old 08-12-2008, 11:10 AM   #1
Latham Fell
Member Latham Fell is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Arlington  VA
Posts: 72
A suggestion for rope climb substitution

The proper sub for a 15' rope climb should be 5 towel pullups, not 15.

To sub for rope climbs properly, consider that the equivalent of pulling yourself up 15' of rope is to pull yourself up 15' of towel. If you are pulling from full extension until your chin reaches your hand on each towel pullup, you are covering more than 1' on each pull. For example, the distance from my fist to my chin with my arm fully extended is 20", or 1.67 feet.

Also, if a 15' rope reaches the ground, then you do not have to cover the distance of your own height, since you start from a standing position. For example, I would subtract 69" from each rope climb, leaving about 9'. Even if I start from the sitting position, that would still be around 12'.

Taken together (9' divided by 1.67' per pull), each 15' rope climb should be subbed with 5 or 6 towel pulldowns, not 15. That's a total of 75, which is a reasonable number, considering that the grip requirement makes towel pullups more difficult than regular pullups.

This is backed up by a look at the rope climb video below (work safe), in which a 15' rope is scaled with anywhere from 4 to 6 strong pulls.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2008, 11:41 AM   #2
Joe Cavazos
Affiliate Joe Cavazos is offline
Joe Cavazos's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Houston  Texas
Posts: 775
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

These are really good points, and such considerations might make the Tommy V WOD do-able for those of us without climbing ropes. Under the current 1 foot = 1 Towel Pull-up standard, this WOD involves 405 Towel Pull-ups broken up by 45 Thrusters.
My WFS Log || Stats I'm least proud of: Max Muscle-ups: 1 | Max Push-ups: 38 | Max HSPU: 9 | 19" Vertical Leap | Max L-sit: 5 sec.

Last edited by Joe Cavazos : 08-12-2008 at 11:44 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2008, 12:40 PM   #3
Karin Jonczak
Member Karin Jonczak is offline
Karin Jonczak's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Oakford  PA
Posts: 1,447
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

I don't believe that towel PU's are a one to one least NOT if you climb the rope with your legs.

I prefer, and just my opinion, to do jumping towel PUs as a substitute. I would do 5 for a 15' climb.

Just my 2 cents...

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2008, 01:46 PM   #4
Arturo Garcia
Member Arturo Garcia is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Santo Domingo  Dominican Republic
Posts: 1,875
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

It makes me feel a bit better to read this, because yesterday I did the WOD that included 3 trips of 15' rope climb for 5 rounds... I did 15 towell pull-ups in each round, and I decided to do them deadhang (might have raised knees on the way up, but no initial swing), and I had to do them in sets of 3!! They are tiring. I alternated which hand was up/down every 3 reps... my towel was little so there were only a couple of inches (2 or 3) between my fists for the pullups. The total of 75 was much more doable than the total of 225 that was supossed to be the sub (ouch!).. I also scaled the weight of the hang squat clean a ton and still only managed to do the five rounds in 26:00 .. I'm glad I scaled the heck out of it ... the thought of 225 total pull-ups while gripping a towel (it was a first ever) was very, very scary.

Like you say, I don't think a person climbing a 15' rope takes as long, or struggles as much, as someone doing 15 towel pullups. But I've read that subs are supossed to be harder than the rx'd exercise to push people to actually perform the rx'd ones!!
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2008, 03:20 PM   #5
Blair Robert Lowe
Member Blair Robert Lowe is offline
Blair Robert Lowe's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Sacramento  CA
Posts: 7,948
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

It can take about 15 hand grabs up a rope where you are climbing without the help of your legs. These hand grabs are also not an outstretched ROM as in long ascent/descents. There are probably people out there who can do it in 7 from the floor because each ascent uses a better ROM than say the last time I did these.

4-6 only make sense with feet helping unless you have an awesome ROM and long damn arms. There is probably a bit of punishment in there like the MU sub, too.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2008, 10:58 AM   #6
Brian Bedell
Member Brian Bedell is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Lantana  FL
Posts: 2,870
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

My personal solution for rope climbs is that "I'm 40, I ain't never climbed a rope before and I don't see myself having to climb a rope in the future, I aint doin' it" If this is my only crossfit foul, then fine, I take a mulligan on rope climbing, the sub is crazy. I did 15 dead hang pullups with negatives as a sub for the 3 x 15 foot climbs. And I don't care! lol
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2008, 12:55 PM   #7
Warren C Ellison
Member Warren C Ellison is offline
Warren C Ellison's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Rome  Ga
Posts: 285
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

Very valid points on the rope climb, but what abuot the fear of heights that many/most people have. The couple of rope climbs I had where cut short due to the fear of failing down to the ground and breaking my neck due to being tired. Fear factors in more to me than grip. My 4 cents.

I know, I know, what color is your purse Sally...I've heard it before. However, like the commercial says, "Children change everything". Perspective change...that's all. I'll take a pass on the rope climb as well. Good to know towels will sub.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2008, 01:22 PM   #8
Jared Ashley
Member Jared Ashley is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Tucson  AZ
Posts: 1,550
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

Latham, I mostly agree with you.

The problem is that "towel pullups" is not an accurate name for what is usually being subbed. There are threads in the past that have taken up this debate, and what is being called a "towel pullup" is really more of a towel see-saw... you hang from the towel and pull down alternately with your right and left arms while your body remains fairly stationary. With this sub, 15:1 is probably fair, but IMO this sub has very little similarity to climbing a rope.

A TRUE towel pullup (where you hang from a towel with one arm higher than the other and pull your body up) is much, much harder, and 15:1 is insane. 10:1 true towel pullups might be an appropriate sub for a NO-LEGS ascent, and either 10:1 jumping towel pullups or 5:1 towel pullups is probably a good sub for an ascent where legs are allowed.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2008, 03:13 AM   #9
Giles Clarke
Member Giles Clarke is offline
Giles Clarke's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Longwood  FL
Posts: 203
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

I feel a lot better after reading these posts.
I just did the Tommy V WOD two days ago and I am still healing. Being a hero workout I was bound, set and determined to do it as Rx's (even if it took me 3 hours). I had always thought towel pull ups were straight pull ups, gripping a towel strung over the bar. The 15:1 conversion seemed insane but I stubbornly persevered. The only towel I had was the 1ft hand-towel my gym hands out and after the first 3 “ascents” of 15 it was so compressed from my grip that I had to keep unrolling it and re-hanging it after every three pull ups. After roughly 75 pull ups the towel (along with my grip) was shot and I had to resort to regular pull ups. It got to the point that I was actually looking forward to the 115# thrusters as a “break”.
At around pull up # 250 my hands finally called it quits. My palms looked waxen from the repeated pressure and the calluses under my middle fingers had actually torn and folded under themselves. I completed the workout, but had to taper the pulls. I had never “failed” a WOD before and I was really disappointed in myself for it.
I’m glad to see that I should have read the fine print a bit better and I could have saved myself a lot of pain in the process. When these new calluses heal over they’ll serve as a reminder that: when in doubt, check the boards!
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 10:37 PM   #10
John Biddle
Member John Biddle is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Brisbane  QLD
Posts: 139
Re: A suggestion for rope climb substitution

Jared, many thanks for your post. I don't know whether what you say has any official sanction, but it makes plenty of sense. The concept of doing 405 towel pull-ups (in the sense of a pull-up done while gripping a towel draped over the bar) is frankly so absurdly beyond what is possible for the vast majority of people (or at least that's my guess) that it just couldn't be right. I'm guessing even 405 bar pullups would probably take most CF-ers a long long time - 90 minutes plus say, if indeed they could do that many without injury.

In any case, aren't rope climbs generally done using feet? I'd also have thought that few people could do many while just using their arms - and safety aspects (exhausted people losing their grip at the top of the rope) would come into play more.
  Reply With Quote

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Rope climb, Rope Size? Steve Forman Equipment 3 05-06-2008 07:11 AM
Rope Climb Substitution Robert Pagliaro Exercises 3 01-30-2008 09:00 PM
Rope climb substitution Rex Freriks Exercises 2 11-21-2006 07:34 PM
Rope climb sub/beginner rope climb Greg Hamilton Exercises 11 09-04-2006 07:24 PM
Rope Climb Steve Wills Equipment 2 06-16-2004 09:34 PM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:17 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.