Tip: The Tug-of-War for Lifters

It's one of the best full-body movements you can do. Here's how do it by yourself in the gym, no rope or mud pit required.

If you've ever participated in tug-of–war, you know it involves a leg drive, a solid torso position, and a strong pulling action from both arms. It's a full-body movement. Well, you don't have to be working against someone else in order to benefit from using this exercise. You just need an adjustable cable column and a rope attachment.

How to Do It

  1. Attach a triceps rope to an adjustable cable column at your mid-torso level.
    Stand at a 45-degree angle to the cable with your feet slightly farther than shoulder-width apart and your right leg back.
  2. Grab the rope with a baseball-bat type of grip, keeping your right hand behind your left.
  3. With your knees bent to roughly 15 to 20 degrees, hinge at your hips, leaning your torso forward so that it's parallel to the floor and your arms are outstretched above you toward the origin of the cable.
  4. Slowly reverse this motion by bringing your torso upright while leaning backward slightly with your upper body.
  5. Plant your feet on the ground and pull the rope into your body until your right wrist contacts your ribs on your right side.
  6. Do half of the reps with the same leg forward, then switch your stance and grip and perform the other half.

Coaching Tips

Use your legs as anchors to drive your torso backward slightly. At the beginning of each rep, allow your arms and upper back to stretch forward without rounding your lower back. As you do the exercise, your weight should shift from front to back.

Set, Rep, and Rest Recommendations

Try 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps on each side.

Don't gas out your arms on the first half of the set (i.e., doing one side). Choose a weight-load that allows you to complete all the reps facing both ways with good technique and control.

Keep in mind, it's tough to use a heavier weight that limits you to less than 6 reps per side without feeling like you're going to get pulled off your feet, and therefore have to limit your range of motion.