So I have done the Tyrolean Traverse twice now and both times, I ended up doing it in a way that I felt was easier than the official method that was shown to me by experts who do the Spartan Race.
For some reason I felt this method I’ll explain is much easier to execute for beginners.
Just so we know, this is what the Tyrolean Traverse is:
It’s an obstacle on the Spartan Race where you hang upside down and pull yourself from one end of the rope to the other. The rope (it could be a thick wire actually) is attached to 2 props that keep it in place so it doesn’t rip.
Now “officially” the method by which most experts recommend “traversing” this obstacle is by hanging upside down, just like most people would at the start (there’s also a version where you can hang on top of the rope with one foot down and drag yourself over it).
However, the thing they recommend is pulling yourself with your hands one on top of the other and using your feet as well and having your feet cross over one another each time your hands pull you up. Think of a sloth climbing a tree branch horizontally, speed it up and you have yourself the recommended strategy for the Tyrolean Traverse.
Now I have to mention it because I do think there will be people who will benefit from it and will be able to do it. But I just couldn’t…
After finishing my Spartan Super in 2015, and doing that obstacle for the first time, I though I had it figured it, but when I saw the strategy I just explained on doing it, not only did I not do it the way it was suggested, but coming into my next event which was the Spartan Beast about a month ago, I felt like I could pull of the suggested strategy.
After trying it out and failing again, I reverted back to the original method I used in 2015 and that’s what I’ll explain here. I honestly think it’s a lot easier in that it doesn’t require such graceful technique as the experts version does.
In fact, from my own viewpoint, I saw a BUNCH of other competitors try out the expert version and fail. Most of them really ended up either failing because they spent too much time hanging on the rope, trying to figure out the technique and others just ended up doing it in one way or another like I did.
There’s just a graceful technique that requires lots of practice to pull it off. But because I was tired, and not fully prepared for it, I decided to just do it the way I originally did.
So here is my super basic technique for handling this obstacle:
Hang upside down like any normal person would on this thing.
Cross your legs so one is on top of the other. I find this gives you a better grasp on the rope and there’s less chances of falling.
Just use your hands to pull yourself up, in a “heave ho” manner. Use both hands at the same time because it’ll be easier to pull yourself up.
Just use that method until you reach the end and hit the bell (I forgot to mention, there’s a bell you have to whack to signify that you passed the obstacle).
Recommended safety suggestions:
The worst thing that came happen from doing this obstacle and “my” method of it is that your legs can get rope burn from the friction.
To avoid this, simply wear some sort of leggings, socks or protection so that tears against the rope and not your skin.
If you are the crazy type of person who enjoys running these events without proper clothing (there’s a lot of risk in that), just wear knee pads.
When you get to the Tyrolean Traverse, let the knee pads hang down so they are by your sneakers. You’ll find that when you wrap your legs around the rope, the area where the rope will touch your legs will be the same area that knee pad is on, so that will protect you from the friction. Here’s great tips on what you should ALWAYS wear to mud runs.
Additionally, what helped me out was wearing baseball gloves. It sounds crazy but these things have a rubbery material on the palm that makes things like rope climbing and pulling so much easier. Of course, you will need to have great grip as well.
There is strength required for this, so prepare accordingly, like this:
If you’re good with any sort of upper body training, you should be perfectly fine on this obstacle. If not, start training for it by rope climbing, doing pull ups and similar upper body exercises.
One thing I mentioned that I did in preparation for the Spartan Race was I practiced a lot of Jiu Jitsu which is a martial art. One thing we do to improve our hand strength and grip is that we lay down on the floor (on the stomach) and use only our hands to drag ourselves across the floor.
This is an incredible workout that really helped me out during the Spartan Race. Of course if you don’t do martial arts, there’s ways you can mimic this type of working.
One thing that may work for you is lying down on your own floor and using your palms to drag your body across it. You’ll find that your hand strength will increase a lot after you do this a couple of times.
Not only will this type of workout prepare you for the Tyrolean Traverse (which honestly isn’t that hard of an obstacle), but it will also improve your body’s resilience to the other obstacles you’ll encounter on the Spartan Race.
I’m absolutely sure there’s going to be experts who do this obstacle that will tell me the official version with using their legs is the best way to go and honestly, I’m still looking to try it.
It does save energy and does make it easier to traverse this thing, but honestly, it requires in my opinion a lot of technique which if you don’t have the time to practice or an area to practice it, you should probably rely on my more beginner friendly technique.