How and Why I'm Attempting The World’s Longest Rope Climb (8,848m) - Ross Edgley

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How and Why I’m Attempting The World’s Longest Rope Climb (8,848m)


Attempting the World’s Longest Rope Climb. Why I’m Climbing a Rope for 24 Hours Until I’ve Scaled the Height of Everest For Charity (8,848m) 

Functional training can take many forms. But on the 22nd of April 2016 I will attempt The World’s Longest Rope Climb and rip up the rulebook on functional fitness. Starting at 9:00am I will pull myself up and down a 20-metre rope (repeatedly) for 24 hours until I’ve climbed the height of Everest (8,848 metres to be precise). Inevitably, once I took to social media to announce the news, my inbox was flooded with questions of, “how” and “why”.

Firstly, let me address the “why”.

Foolishly or not remains to be seen, but for me this was the logical sequel to The World’s Strongest Marathon. See, pulling a 1.4 tonne car for 26.2 miles raised lots of money for charity, but it also left me with this newly acquired work capacity, an inability to over train and a tendency to get bored very easily. Basically a few hours among the weights and treadmills no longer seemed enough like it used to.

Which is why I rung the Teenage Cancer Trust (my chosen charity). Bought a rope. Found a tree. Then began training for this year’s charity stunt number two.


Secondly, let’s discuss the “how”.

As I explained in my World’s Strongest Marathon article, “fitness is not black white”.

When it comes to our training we too often think in terms of repetitions, sets and training times. But the human body isn’t a repetition-counting machine. It’s far more intricate and powerful than that and can be subjected to thousands of training variables. One of the most overlooked of these variables — and a key component of functional training — is work capacity.

Once you understand this everything from climbing a rope for 24 hours to training legs free from soreness the next day all become possible. Here’s how:

Functional Training: The Secret to Training Harder, Heavier & Longer

Work Capacity can be defined as the total amount of “work” (training) the body can perform and then positively recover and adapt too. To put it simply — and into an example — if you have a high work capacity and you’re training for a marathon, starting day 1 of training with a 10 mile run becomes doable.

Your body can tolerate this “stress” and “stimuli” and — for those who like the science — your body will positively adapt by increasing lung capacity, the muscle’s capillary density, mitochondrial efficiency, fatty acid-oxidation enzymes and basically just make you a better run from the inside out.

If you have a lower work capacity, that same 10 mile run will leave you in bed, over trained with your immune system wondering, “What were you thinking?” In short, a higher work capacity means you can tolerate heavier, harder and longer training sessions.

Therefore work capacity is good. So how do you get more of it?

More sets, supplementary cardio and “finishers” are your answer.

Functional Training: How to Increase Work Capacity?

Worth noting is the exact answer to this is still being debated among functional training strength and conditioning experts to this day. All athletes are so biological different it becomes hard to assign a single-best blueprint. But generally speaking if you look to incorporate the below functional exercises into your training work capacity will increase.

  • Functional Exercise: Add More Sets

The first is also the most simple: add sets to your routines.

Let’s say you can do 3 sets of 3 repetitions on a 140kg squat. What would then be easier? Trying to complete 3 sets of 3 repetitions with 150kg or just adding another 140kg squat for one repetition at the end? I’d hope you’d say the extra 1 repetition obviously. Then next session add 2 repetitions with 140kg and 3 after that. Once you’re able to do 5 to 8 sets of 3 repetitions your work capacity has improved. Now it’s time to drop back down to 3 sets with a bigger weight (maybe try that 150kg now).

The key is that adding 1 repetition per session. It’s not that taxing on your body over your established baseline. Then when you drop back to just 3 sets, it’s less volume than you’ve grown accustomed to, setting you up nicely for the subsequent re-ramping of the volume.

  • Functional Exercise: Add Cardio

The second is to add additional cardio-based workouts around your strength training. This could exist in the form of twenty minutes cardio in the morning, which would allow you to perform your usual strength-based training in the afternoon or evening. Or, depending on your circadian rhythm (i.e. your biological clock, which determines when your body “peaks”) and your work schedule, you could perform your strength training in the morning and your cardio in the evening.

Whatever method works best for you, know that adding cardio specific workouts in and around your usual strength and conditioning routines remains one of the easiest ways to increase work capacity.

  • Functional Exercise Principle: Add Finishers

The final way is to add movement specific “finishers” to your strength training. This is a favourite among strength athletes since many experts warn against the dangers of adding cardio to the end of your weight training. It’s theorized this floods the body with a “cocktail of catabolic hormones” that kills your body’s natural anabolic response to training. Worth noting is this is subject to debate and varies from person to person.

But if you’re in this camp, but want to increase your work capacity “finishers” are your answer. These are quick, intense, movement specific exercises you can add to the end of your workouts:

– 5 x 20m Sled Sprints after a big leg session

– 10 x 5m Rope Climbs after a huge arm workout

– 10 x 10m Tyre Flips after a colossal dead lift

The World’s Longest Rope Climb begins at Pippingford Park on April the 22nd ahead of the Toughest Obstacle Race. Ross will begin climbing at 9:00am Friday 22nd April and aims to finish 9:00am Saturday 23rd April. To mark the event, THE PROTEIN WORKS™ have created a limited edition White Chocolate Gold Protein Truffle with £1 of every one sold going to the Teenage Cancer Trust.


Post Author
Ross Edgley