Essential Tips For Buying Rope — the Most Versatile Training Equipment You’ll Ever Own

Many of you posted questions about the best type of rope to use for TACFIT ROPE training.

I’ve experimented with many types and thicknesses of rope over the years, in multiple training environments, and I’ve narrowed it down to several optimal choices. I rank them from “best to least” according to how well they meet the versatility needs of the tactical teams I train.

My first choice is always 1″ to 1.5″ diameter nylon rope in a 20 foot length.

Manila is sometimes easier to find, but it tends to splinter in arid environments and to absorb fluids and oils in damp ones. Splinters tear up your hands and forearms, and oils make gripping problematic. Both of these things can get in the way of your training.

Climbing rope works, but at diameters of less than 1″ it can be too much of a grip challenge, especially if you’re just starting out.

I’ve also used braided paracord when I wasn’t able to find anything else. It isn’t ideal, but you can make it work, especially if you create handles out of old bike inner tubes. Wrap them with grip tape, or even duct tape – that’s always easy to find.

30 feet of rope is all you’ll ever need for anchor points 12 feet high or less. This length will be highly adjustable when it comes to moving the hand loops, and there’s plenty of rope to ensure a secure attachment.

It’s always nice to have a bit extra of course, but I usually carry exactly 20 feet to my sessions. I like to save space and pack light, and I know how to manipulate the length very precisely when it comes to anchoring. Until you get really good at knot tying, you’ll probably want a bit of extra length.

I demonstrated the type of knot I like to use in the first ROPE video we posted (reproduced below), but of course there are other choices, each with their own set of advantages, disadvantages and specific uses.

Practice the basic ROPE tie until it becomes second nature. When you’ve got it down and have been training for a while, we can discuss more knot craft. It really is an art form all its own.

My knot tying experience grew out of my work with the Russian Spetsnaz, who used ropes as snares, weapons and hostile subject restraints. I adapted the combative aspect of those skills to our field conditioning needs as we traveled from the icy Baltic to the subtropical Black Sea.

Working throughout such a wide geographical range meant that the art of knot craft became as sophisticated as some of the exercise examples I demonstrated in our TACFIT ROPE videos.

I look forward to sharing these skills with you.

Make your own ROPE suspension training gear…

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

James Linn May 17, 2010 at 4:02 am

Coach! LOOKOUT! Here comes the train!
Awesome material here.
Thank you,


TJ Byxbee May 17, 2010 at 5:08 am

Wonderful! I currently use the Battling Ropes with our Indian Club/Sandbag/KB boot camps, and have used climbing ropes. This I’ll have to try-great music!


Juan May 17, 2010 at 5:10 am

I included some pvc tubes about 4 inches long to help me with my grip. The rope seemed to hurt my hand and the tubes really helped. I would also recommend not placing the knots really high cause the will end up running up and down your arm causing the friction to burn your skin.


dominic wongahkye May 17, 2010 at 7:19 am

looks very good scott,


Paul Arnold May 17, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Always got a quick but good training session with my TRX, but haven’t used it for a while. This has just kicked me into gear again, time to pull out the suspension system. Thanks Coach, awesome videos.


Torsten Nielsen May 18, 2010 at 7:46 am

What about using my (regular Tacfit) rings (as in Ring Only Pullup Equipment)?
In Grunt and Commando I’d have to substitute something else for “Climbing Row” and “Plyometric Climb”, but I wouldn’t like to do those (as described) with no gloves anyway. Any tips on gloves?
Was also thinking about using a thin rope with short pieces garden-hose on the ends – still not ideal for the “Climbing Row” or “Plyometric Climb” either.

Torsten Nielsen


admin May 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

Torsten, yes you can substitute actual gym rings. With the plyos either add temporary knots or perform your climbs from a decline (legs elevated) for increased challenge.
Who Dares Wins,
Scott Sonnon


Caine Rose May 19, 2010 at 6:24 am

After purchasing the ROPE plug in, and expecting a streamlined and simplistic program to implement a tool into the TacFit regimen, I was rather disappointed that there was no mention of having to vary the lengths of rope for several of the exercises as well as having to switch from a single to double loop configuration on the fly. As far as I can see, there is no way to perform the entire circuit without the interruption of retying and resetting the rope between a few of the exercises. In the videos, Scott is using pre-rigged apparatus and it is impossible to use the simulation video to follow along succinctly. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am am certain that I have combed through the manual and all videos and found nothing that addresses this.


admin May 19, 2010 at 8:27 am

Don’t get frustrated. This is the difference between DIY and commercialized equipment (which does everything for you). DIY equipment requires a little practice and self-reliability. You’ll get it. Just be patient with yourself, map out the exercises, practice your optimal lengths (since it changes from one person and one session to the next) and hustle. You can do it.
Who Dares Wins,
Scott Sonnon


Caine Rose May 19, 2010 at 9:44 am

Thanks for the pep talk :) I think the two rope solution is what I’ll go with for my permanent home set up and I will use a single rope and hustle when I am on the go. I do love the work outs, however! The warm up and cool down variations are a nice addition to the preceding TacFit Commando ones.

Getting ready to build an outdoor pull up frame with 4x4s and steel pipe and will most likely use the 1″ rope with tied loops for handles on that structure for a more rugged workout and keep my rings inside with my stationary set up.


Josh October 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

It takes about 1 to 2 minutes to change knots and anchor points, and when I combine ROPE with the Tabata Protocol, this rest period is a great time to catch my breath and prepare for the next exercise.

to integrate ROPE workouts with Tacfit Commando, would I do the following on moderate/high intensity days? 1. Warm up drills (ROPE specific) – 2. All ROPE exercises (8 sets each – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off with 2 minutes between exercises) – 3. Cool down drills (ROPE specific)

Thanks for all the great products you guys have created, keep ‘em coming!


admin October 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm


Suspension training destabilizes the core joints – shoulders and hips. As a result, the exercise selection and progression has been thoroughly investigated to ensure proper development. I strongly suggest not tinkering with the design until you’ve totally completed all missions successfully 2X.

Read pages 11-12 in the ROPE manual for instructions on how to integrate ROPE with Commando.

Who Dares Wins,
Scott Sonnon

Mike May 19, 2010 at 7:05 am

Good Point Caine. I was wondering how you can quickly switch between different configurations. Seems like you would have to have two sets of Rope set-up.


Tim Bourgeois May 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Scott, do you have a good source for buying rope? All of the local Home Depot type stores do not stock the thicker 1″ – 1.5″ diameter sizes. The best I found was 3/4″.


admin May 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Try local hardware or marina stores. Call around. 3/4″ is also good rope.


carlos May 20, 2010 at 5:57 pm

hey obviously ROPE is way more cheaper, but besides that, what is the difference between ROPE workouts and other suspension trainers workouts?


Tim Kubit May 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

The main difference is that you can use any part of a piece of rope, as opposed to just the handles on the other kinds of straps. For example, the plyometric climb isn’t the best use of a TRX or similar band or even gymnastics rings for that matter.


Kathy Barrett June 6, 2010 at 8:59 am

For those who have difficulty with changing lengths quickly on your rope like me, why not just use a shorter length of rope, then attach that to an adjustible nylon strap that goes around the tree or whatever. Then you just have one thing to adjust, the nylon attachment.
My hands are pretty much toast after the first exercise so I can’t un-tie and tie knots very well but I can handle a buckle.


Srecko Olujic June 11, 2010 at 3:33 am

I can’t wait to try the rope out, gonna use it instead of olympic rings when I go to the seaside. Gonna kick my ass…at home hah, beautiful, no gym needed.


Ronald Hobbs October 6, 2010 at 4:22 am

I have had a computer failure and lost access to your website. I bought the Ropes package and had downloaded the package. Is it possible to re-instate without purchasing the whole thing?

Thanks in Advance,



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