Rope Tucks, aka Dive Bombers

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If ever you’re walking down the street and a complete stranger comes up to you and asks, “What is a rope tuck?” are you ready to provide a comprehensive answer, or are you going to stare at your shoes, a dolt? Most people confronted with the predicament blurt out the standard one-liner, “Grab rope at the end of cable, kneel and tuck,” and quickly turn away in shame.

I understand. I’ve been there and it’s a very painful place to be indeed. That is why I and my associate, Larita, at the Draper Feel Good Institute, have prepared the following concise, precise Rope Tuck narrative in an easy to memorize format. Misfits and the downtrodden need not go through life uninformed and void of mysterious skills.

Sit back, close your eyes, relax and repeat after me.

The rope tuck is a high-rep exercise that quickly attacks the midsection as we tug with bent arms close to the body and vary the downward motion from front, to left and to right.

As the reps, pump and burn mount, extend the arms and the resistance is transferred to the greater upper body. Biceps, triceps, serratus, lats, pecs and the entire back are fully engaged. And there’s panting, cardiovascular work at play.

While specifically an abdominal exercise, it can be manipulated by body positioning and concentrated muscle contraction to work countless details of the upper torso. Start with a pulley system that provides a single overhead cable from which you can attach your favorite rope handle. Choose an appropriate weight through trial and error (approximately 30 percent of bodyweight), grab the rope, kneel down about three feet before the unit and sit back on your heels.

Bend forward toward the weight stack with the rope under tension and close to your lowered forehead. You’re ready to practice the movement as you assess the resistance on your abs and throughout the upper body, determine your range of motion and facility to move with muscle-focused efficiency.

The first dozen reps are performed with the arms held rigid, rope-grasping fists near the forehead, the torso moving up and down by the power of the abs.

Important: The entire abdominal muscles are contracted to do the hard work. Don’t lunge forward and accomplish the motion with the assistance of your bodyweight. Nice try.

Moving on, continue the action with a slight shift of the body and grip predominance to the right for five longer-motion reps, and, likewise, shift to the left and repeat. These variations add interest and further the involvement of the torso to include the obliques and intercostals. An extended overhead range of motion affected by the cable enables you to bring in the serratus and lats while you’re continually loading, stimulating and fatiguing the grip and biceps.

Raise the weight, lower the reps and the movement is powerful. No, not an earth-mover, but it’s strong and intense.

Furthermore, it offers freedom and spontaneity, that great sense of muscle exploration and exercise improvisation according to feel, urge and desire. There are muscles just waiting to be discovered and involved and energized and developed.

I’m convinced I could superset five sets of cable tucks of diverse ROM, resistance and repetitions with freehand or machine dips of similar variation and exit the gym a proud and exhilarated musclehead, no regrets.

I let the reps add up to 40 or 50 per set, three or four sets depending on stretch, burn, energy, mood and remaining workout plan.

Take your time, be suitably cautious and advance the action and exertion, as you become conditioned and familiarized. I like to shift the body at the end of the tucks to a seated position on the floor and away from the apparatus and continue my efforts in a lat-row movement for a final 6, 8,10 reps. Nice, just enough lower back involvement, again determined by extension and final contraction positions.

Good. Sit up, open your eyes, breathe deeply. There you go. That wasn’t so terrifying, was it?

Remember: Warm up, light weight at first, listen, feel, engage, be strong and be smart.

Make-shift video:

For members of the Secret Society, Sunday’s workout went like this:

Boom, crash, slam, whrrrrrr… kaboom.

Or in layman terms:

Rope tuck, whatever that is, (3 sets x 40 reps)
Supersetted with
Stiff-arm dumbbell pullover (3 x 10 reps)

Steep-incline dumbbell press (4 x 12, 10, 8 reps)
Minute-long freehand thigh and calf pumping between sets.

Thumbs-up dumbbell curl (4 x 8-10 reps)
Supersetted with
Triceps pushdown (4 x 15 reps)

Cute workout made extraordinary by ferocious focus, fastidious feel and friendly force and coordinated clinks, clanks and clunks.

God Bless Us, Thank You… Dave


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