Watch Actor William H. Macy Crush a Legless Rope Climb

We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the insane back workouts that Sylvester Stallone is pulling off (or pulling down) in his seventies, but it’s definitely worth pointing out that he’s not the only kind-of-old-let’s-be-honest Hollywood celebrity with excellent back strength.

William Hall Macy is 68 years old and made legless rope climb that most guys in their twenties couldn’t manage. For a guy who has described himself as “sort of a Middle American, WASPy, Lutheran kind of guy… Everyman,” he’s displaying some pretty elite fitness. Take a look at the footage below, which was filmed at CrossFit Ephrata in Pennsylvania.

[Read more: 8 tips for improving your rope climb.]

William H Macy crushing a rope climb this morning at our gym! Very nice guy! He is in great shape- 68 years old and doing legless rope climbs. Pretty impressive!

That was all the way to the ceiling and all the way down with no breaks, no apparent exhaustion, and no complaints. That looked positively effortless.

How do you perform a legless rope climb? It’s a lot more complicated than just doing a lot of pull-ups: the fitness required to hoist the body up a rope without even using the legs requires exponentially more grip strength and stability.

If you’re envious of William H. Macy’s climbing prowess — a sentence we never thought we’d write — consider using progressions to improve your rope climb. You can start without even leaving the ground, lowering your body from standing to lying like this.

Once you’re ready to try climbing the rope itself, a lot of people neglect to learn the particulars of a proper foot lock — but there’s more to it than just pushing your feet together on either side of the rope. From Jake Boly’s article on rope climb progressions:

Begin by wrapping the rope from the inside of the leg over the outside of the ankle. Once the rope is on the outside of the ankle, bring it back inside the ankle to the middle of your foot.

Keep your leg bent at about 90 degrees, as this will work as a step. Every time you climb a little bit, you’ll have to re-wrap the foot with the rope, which can be tricky, so be patient with this method.

Start your quest for a Macy-level rope climb with these progressions, and there’ll be no stopping you.

Featured image via @crossfit_ephrata on Instagram.


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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.