3 Ropes Workout for You and Your Partner

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Rope climbing is perfect for two people. So why not grab your favorite person and climbing partner and give these fun but challenging drills a whirl?

Partner Ropes Exercises


Depending on your and your partner’s preferences, you can complete this drill on lead, top rope, or a combination of the two. The exercise is almost as simple as the name. Pick one climb or two climbs close together and complete three laps before switching off with your partner. The goal is to rest as little as possible, even if you have to rest. Instead of standing on the ground in between the three climbs, relax on the wall. If you are switching between climbs, have your partner untie/re-tie you in if necessary.

While the goal is to feel pumped at the end of the last climb and in need of rest, you want to choose routes that require you to climb at about 70-80% of your maximum effort. Effort lower than 70% won’t allow you to maximize the benefits of the workout, and effort greater than 80% may prevent you from finishing three climbs in a row.

The goal is to do 3-5 sets of 3 climbs each, so a total of 9-15 pitches per person. (See below for ways to increase the difficulty if you would like a more significant challenge.)

Technically, you can do this drill with anyone willing to climb ropes. However, the more efficient the transitions are between climbs and rounds, the greater the quality of the workout. Usually, it is easier to move efficiently with a climbing partner familiar to you and someone you know will push you to try hard.

Modifications to increase the difficulty
Downclimb the routes too
Add in another drill (i.e., lock-offs, flagging)
Increase the number of repeaters per round. For example, do five routes instead of 3 before switching with your partner.

You Pick, I Pick

Everyone has a favorite or preferred style of climbing, whether or not they’ll admit it. You may love technical and vertical climbs and stay away from overhung, pumpy routes at all costs. While it’s fun to climb the style you love, you’ll gain a lot more and improve your climbing by trying the climbs that are your anti-style. That is where your partner comes in handy. Instead of picking your routes, you must let your partner choose each climb you do and vice versa.

There are no limitations for what each partner can choose, but they’ll likely pick a climb that interests them and not necessarily you, thus challenging you to broaden your climbing scope. Additionally, the goal should be to onsight each climb you try. But if you don’t onsight it, implement a fall limit. We suggest somewhere between a 1-3 fall limit, with the overall objective of getting you and your partner to try hard on climbs, specifically climbs you might write off as unworthy of putting effort into trying.

Left Route, Right Route

In theory, this drill is relatively simple, but in practice may prove very challenging both mentally and physically for the climber and entertaining for the belayer. Alternating belaying with your partner, you will each select each other’s climbs. However, the caveat with this drill is that you must choose two climbs close together, either on the same rope or close enough together it’s safe to use the same rope for both. Your partner then has to use the holds of one climb for their left hand and left foot and the other climb’s holds for their right hand and right foot.

It would be best if you only did this drill on top rope in a climbing gym, as the quickdraws are not likely placed in safe positions for clipping during this drill. While the exercise aims to get you and your partner to think creatively on the wall and try out-of-the-box climbs, please use discretion. If a move is nearly impossible or painful due to the restriction of hand and foot placement, skip the movement. It is great to push yourself in training, but unnecessary to get injured while attempting a fun, simple drill.

Next time you and your partner head to the climbing gym, give one of these drills a whirl. You are guaranteed to get a great workout and have fun. And if you think of any fun modifications to add to these drills, let us know in the comments below. Or, let us know which of these drills you tried and how it went!

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