If you are familiar with my site, there is a good chance that you have seen me jumping rope. The jump rope clips that I’ve posted to Youtube have received several million views. As a result, it is not uncommon for me to receive questions about skipping. Perhaps the most commonly asked questions are related to rope selection. For instance, I am often asked if high-speed cable ropes are necessary for fast turning styles such as double or triple unders.
Fortunately, specialty ropes are not required. Expensive ropes are not necessary either. In the video below, you can see a brief demonstration that I filmed with an inexpensive PVC freestyle rope. It is actually the same rope that I used in my jump rope DVD. The PVC cord was purchased for only two dollars. Clearly, rope speed is not compromised and the rope is also useful for a variety of freestyle movements.
In summary, while high-end ropes have become popular in recent times, the old school ropes that I started with almost 30 years ago are still as useful as ever. And while certain cable ropes will undoubtedly turn faster, more speed is not necessarily an advantage. As an athlete and trainer, the rope is just a tool. We are not training for the rope. We use the rope to improve other athletic qualities. Therefore, working with an easier rope may not help us in the long run. I have seen many athletes who can perform double and triple unders with stainless steel ropes who are completely lost when attempting the same feats with a regular rope.
Call me old school, but I would rather develop the skill to function with any rope. As the old Michael Jordan commercials would say, it’s not the shoes. We can modify that famous slogan to say that it’s not the rope. What matters more is the athlete behind the rope. Develop true skill and you can use any rope that you find.
Price is what you pay; value is what you get. – Warren Buffett2 comments
In my last entry, I demonstrated how a foam pool noodle could be attached to a doorway pull-up bar to prevent damage to the door trim. You will only need a few inches per side to protect the trim. Most pool noodles are sold in much longer pieces. Fortunately, you can use the excess material for another do-it-yourself project.
High density foam can also be used to create an inexpensive pair of portable thick grip attachments. Simply cut the foam into two small pieces and then slice an opening on each piece to fit around a bar. You should then thoroughly wrap the foam in a few layers of duct tape for added protection. The result of this low-tech set-up can be seen below.
These portable attachments are inexpensive and effective. Thumb strength will certainly be challenged when performing pull-ups from these grips.
As for longevity, high density foam is much more resilient then some initially assume. I have used foam attachments for many seasons and have not noticed any compression or loss of shape. I have also had success using foam to create very durable dip belts. I have used the dip belt below for several years. I have loaded it with well over 200 pounds without any problems. The dip belt consists of nothing but a foam pool noodle, chain, duct tape, and a carabiner spring-link.
In summary, if you are looking for an inexpensive and effective way to challenge thick grip strength, a foam pool noodle is one option to consider. And while I do demonstrate additional options in my Untapped Strength book, these foam attachments are perhaps the easiest to make. It will take a few minutes at most.
Lastly, if you already purchased foam to protect your door trim, these thick grips are an added bonus that can be made for free. Free and effective are two of my favorite words. You can’t go wrong with these inexpensive attachments.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe2 comments
If you are familiar with this blog, you have probably seen me perform pull-ups from just about anywhere. I am all for making the world our gym, thus training whenever and wherever possible. Yet, while I am no stranger to performing pull-ups in random spots, it is difficult to beat the convenience of a doorway bar.
Doorway pull-up bars have become quite popular in recent years. It is not difficult to find one sold locally for $25 or less. Unfortunately, despite their convenience, I have seen several people complain that these bars have a tendency to indent the door trim where they rest. Luckily, it is not difficult to prevent this problem. All that you need is a piece of pipe insulation or a foam pool noodle.
As you can see below, I have wrapped a foam pool noodle around each end of the pull-up bar. Quality pool noodles can be purchased for a few dollars at most. Simply cut the foam to length and slice one side so that it can wrap around the bar. Tape it in place and you will be ready to go.
Now, when my weight leans against these bars, there is an added layer of protection. The foam is dense enough to safeguard the trim. At approximately 190 pounds, I have performed hundreds of reps from this doorway bar and the trim is still as good as new. There are no indentations or scuff marks.
In summary, if you wish to perform pull-ups from a doorway bar, it may be useful to take precautionary action to protect the trim where it rests. Exercise does not need to come at the expense of your home.
Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. – Charles Warner2 comments
One of the biggest problems with today’s fitness industry is the false assumption that we must constantly reinvent the wheel. Many young trainers have been brainwashed to believe that new ideas are always superior to those that came before. Anything beyond a few years old is considered outdated and archaic.
And while such notions are clearly ridiculous and unfounded, I expect this problem to magnify in the years ahead. As the fitness industry continues to shift its attention towards the online market, more and more trainers will find themselves struggling to avoid being lost in the crowd. After all, it is impossible to stand out if you only do what others have done. Right?
Since when did originality become more important than results?
I’m all for improving upon old ideas when possible and occasionally coming up with something new, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that humans have been around for thousands of years. Exercise is not new, nor is human intelligence. Plenty can be learned by studying those who came before us.
Trainers are paid to develop athletes. That’s what we do. I am not paid to be original. I am paid for results. Therefore, I will use whatever methods produce the best results.
For instance, if you have followed my material for any amount of time, you probably know that I am a big fan of hill sprints and rope skipping. Running hills and jumping rope have long been two of my favorite conditioners. I do not engage in these activities because I invented them. I run hills and skip rope simply because they work.
Athletes have jumped rope and sprinted hills for longer than we have all been alive. I don’t know who invented these activities and I honestly don’t care. Results are my only concern.
As a kid, I grew up watching Walter Payton dominate the National Football League. He was an absolute beast on the field. I would always imitate him when I played tackle football with my friends. To no surprise, Walter Payton was also known for his hard work off the field. He is one of my early sources of inspiration for hill sprints. Walter Payton ran hills, so I wanted to run hills.
Walter Payton also skipped rope, so I wanted to skip rope.
Walter Payton was one of my early inspirations, and I’m sure he had inspirations of his own. We both worked hard with exercises that have been used for centuries. There wasn’t anything original about it. We weren’t worried about originality. We were too busy focusing on results.
In summary, I am not suggesting that there will not be opportunities to improve upon the past. We should always strive to improve. Just don’t be so quick to dismiss ideas from previous generations. As an athlete or trainer, results must be your primary focus. No one cares if your methods are new or old. They will only remember the results that you produced.
Never let originality take precedence over success.
Originality is the art of concealing your sources. – Benjamin Franklin15 comments
As a father to a girl, I always tell my daughter that she can do whatever she sets her mind to do. She has no concept of there being any limitations because of gender. She has grown up playing sports with her older brother and has turned into a gym rat. A day does not pass without her asking to play in the gym.
Yet, while she calls it play time, my six year old will be the first person to tell you not to talk to anyone who is in the middle of a set. She is well aware of the unwritten rules of the gym. She is not there to socialize. She is always doing something. Whether she is jumping rope, climbing rope, or playing with the bars, she keeps herself busy and is always looking for a new challenge. If I had a nickel for every time she asked for five more minutes in the gym, I would have at least one year of her college tuition saved in the bank.
Unfortunately, it seems like my daughter’s interest in sport and exercise is somewhat unique. As a coach in the community, I rarely see young girls who are as eager to participate and play. It seems as if many girls are steered away from such activities. It is much more common to see fathers out on the field with their sons. I’ve even seen parents who have sons and daughters who bring their boys to practice while the young girls sit on the sidelines and play with electronic devices.
I could not imagine leaving my daughter on the sideline to play with my phone while I am on the field with my son. What message are we giving our daughters if we make them sit out while the boys practice on the field? I want my daughter to participate. I would rather have her struggling to keep up with the older boys than sitting around doing nothing.
If more parents encouraged their daughters to compete without limitations, we would not be surprised at videos such as that below. Take a look at one girl who just finished her first summer of calisthenic training.
This young woman cranks out muscle-ups with ease. And this is all just after one summer of bodyweight training. Imagine what she will accomplish after a year or two of serious training? The sky is truly the limit.
Am I surprised?
Not at all. Why should I be surprised? Who said that women cannot perform exercises such as muscle-ups? Anyone who utters such a statement is a fool. I always tell my daughter that she can accomplish anything she wants to accomplish. Sure, she will fail at times. We all fail. I have failed more times than I could ever remember. Failure is often one of the most important stepping stones toward success. If you are ambitious, failure comes with the territory. Don’t run from it. Learn from it.
In summary, stop telling children what they can or cannot accomplish. Encourage them to try and let them chart their own course. We owe them that right. Every individual has a right to live their own lives and pursue their own dreams. I have no idea what my daughter will pursue as the years pass, but I will surely be by her side encouraging her each step of the way. No one will tell her what she can accomplish. She will find out for herself.
Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours. – Richard Bach9 comments