How To Do The London Bridge – Muscles Worked, Benefits & Alternatives – Fitness Volt

Rows and pull-ups getting a bit redundant? If yes, the london bridge should definitely be on your radar. A powerful back and bodyweight grip builder, this exercise strays from conventional resistance training and challenges your fitness and mental toughness in a fun yet effective way.

In this guide, you’ll learn about proper exercise execution, benefits, effective variations, muscles worked, and more.

In this exercise:

  • Target muscle group: Back, trunk, biceps, forearms
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, functional ability
  • Mechanical: Compound
  • Equipment: Rope and anchor
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

How to do London Bridge

The London Bridge requires upper body strength and a fairly strong grip, but other than that it’s a simple exercise. Below we’ve included step-by-step instructions and form tips to ensure you perform London Bridge safely and efficiently.

To do this exercise, you will need a rope and an anchor such as a squat rack, stall bars/Swedish ladder or similar equipment to attach it to. Be sure to secure the rope a few feet above your head as shown in the example video below.

Exercise guidelines

  1. Grab the top of the rope with both hands placing one above the other.
  2. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart at the base of the rope and lean back while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. This is your starting position.
  3. Keeping your knees slightly bent, slowly lower yourself back to the floor moving your hands over the rope.
  4. Return to a standing position by moving your hands along the rope. As you reach out to grab the rope, rotate your torso and reach forward to stretch the lats and replicate a single row of arms. It’s a representative!
  5. Perform the desired number of repetitions to complete your first set.

Here is a great video example of how to perform the London Bridge.

Tips on London Bridge

  • Bend your knees to make the exercise easier.
  • Fully extend your legs to make the exercise more difficult.
  • Bring your feet forward or place them on the anchor (eg stall bars) to really increase the difficulty of London Bridge.
  • Treat the move as a row rather than a pull-up. This means rotating your torso to activate the lats and focus on the contraction.
  • Maintain a rigid core and a straight line from head to knees. Don’t arch your back.


To do the London Bridge, you must possess the ability to pull yourself up and down using a rope. Although we recommend that you have sufficient upper body pulling strength before attempting this exercise, we have included a video that shows the progressions to help you build and develop your pulling ability.

Advantages of London Bridge

Let’s talk about why you should include London Bridge in your training.

Develop your pulling muscles

The London Bridge is primarily a back-focused exercise, however, it is equally beneficial for developing your biceps and forearm muscles which are secondary in all pulling movements. Incorporating rope pulls into your back training workouts allows you to hit the posterior chain a little differently.

functional strength

Squatting and pressing a lot of weight is the best way to build lifting strength, which carries over to other exercises and activities as well. But pulling yourself with a rope creates a different challenge, plus it’s a great way to improve your grip strength.

If you do CrossFit or are involved in any sport, this can be a great tool to have in your functional training focused workouts.

Read more about functional strength training here.

Burn more calories

The harder an exercise is, the more calories you can burn because your body needs more energy to perform the task. Do you really want to challenge yourself? Try moving your body up and down using a rope over and over again while your grip is tested to the max!

As you improve, pick up the pace to burn even more calories.

do something different

While some people can do the same routine multiple times a week for years, others need more excitement and variety in their training. Not to mention that humans generally enjoy doing fun and challenging activities such as rope climbing.

Variants of London Bridge

The London Bridge is an effective back exercise, but there are two variations for more advanced users.

Double Rope

For this variation, attach two ropes to your anchor and alternately slide your hands along the rope until you are close to the ground. Pull the rope one side at a time.

Full rope ascent

If you’ve developed a python-like grip and can lift your entire body off the ground, it makes sense that you’d pull up to the ceiling with a full rope climb. Of course, you need to have access to a dedicated setup, which might mean joining a CrossFit gym. You should also learn proper rock climbing technique which is not covered in this guide.

How to Include London Bridge in Your Workouts

As with any exercise, how you include London Bridge in your workouts will depend on your preferences, goals, and level of training experience. This is not a conventional back-strengthening move, and therefore you need to keep that in mind when programming it into your workout routine.

For example, although London Bridge can build muscle and strength, and is a beneficial functional activity, it should not be the first choice of bodybuilders and strength athletes. Although it can certainly be incorporated effectively.

Sets and reps

  • Beginner – 3-5 sets x 3-5 reps
  • Upper Intermediate – 3-5 sets x 10+ reps

A good place to start with London Bridge is two to three sets of three to five reps, as suggested in the example video. As you get more advanced and stronger, increase it to three to five sets and up to ten reps or more.

London Bridge muscles worked

The London Bridge is a powerful upper body exercise that works multiple muscles. Learn more about each and its function below.

London Bridge muscles worked


The infraspinatus is one of the rotator cuff muscles along with the supraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles contribute to the mobility and stability of the shoulder joint. The infraspinatus assists in external rotation of the shoulder joint, scaption, and lateral rotation of the humerus.

The widest back

The latissimus dorsi or lats for short is a large, flat muscle that spans the lower posterior chest. It works with the teres major and pectoralis major to adduct and rotate the humerus medially, and it helps to extend the humerus with the help of the teres major and the sternal head of the pectoralis major. The lats are also involved in moving the trunk forward and upward when the arms are positioned overhead.

Teres Major

Teres major is a thick muscle in the shoulder joint that medially rotates and adducts the arm and stabilizes the shoulder joint. Unlike the teres minor, it is not a rotator cuff muscle.

Teres minor

The teres minor is a muscle of the rotator cuff which, together with the other muscles of the rotator cuff, stabilizes the glenohumeral joint. Its specific function is the lateral, or external, rotation of the arm at the shoulder.

Lower fibers of the trapezium

The lower trapezius fibers are part of the trapezius muscle located on the trapezius-shaped upper back. It depresses the scapula and helps the superior fibers in the upward rotation of the scapula.

Nice trappings give a complete look to the physique when everything else is well developed.

Medial and superior fibers of the trapezius

The middle fibers of the trapezius muscle, between the upper and lower trap fibers add (retract) the scapula while the upper trap fibers elevate and rotate the scapula upward and also function to extend the neck. Rows and shrugs especially activate these muscles.


The brachialis is located deep to the biceps muscle on the outer part. It is a pure elbow flexor that gives width to the upper arm when extended.

Although this muscle is not visible on most people, when it is well developed on a leaner person, you can see it running through the outside of the arms between the biceps and triceps.

The brachial adds extra height to the upper arms and can help fill out those sleeves a bit more.


The brachioradialis is a muscle located in the lateral forearm. It is an elbow flexor and a forearm supinator and pronator. Pulling movements and rows work this muscle.

Posterior deltoid

The posterior deltoid, also known as the rear deltoids, is one of the three heads that make up the shoulder muscles. With the other two heads, the posterior deltoid helps abduct the arm beyond 15 degrees. It also helps the anterior head stabilize the arm while the lateral head abducts the arms 15 to 100 degrees and works with the latissimus dorsi to extend the arm while walking.

The rear deltoids are notorious for being an overlooked muscle in the weight room. This could be for a number of reasons including the fact that they are not as popular as other posterior muscles, many believe they get enough work from back exercises or that you cannot see these muscles when you look at yourself in the mirror.

But it is a mistake not to pay special attention to them because they contribute to a balanced physique both functionally and aesthetically. Underdeveloped rear deltoids can be a boon to the physique, especially since all pressing motions train the front deltoids, which are often overdeveloped.


The core muscles help stabilize the trunk, bend it forward and backward, and twist and rotate the midsection. It is important to maintain a rigid stomach during most forms of resistance exercise to maximize movement.

Sternal head pectoralis major

The clavicular head of the pectoral or major chest muscle is located on the upper chest near the collarbone area. It causes the outstretched arm to bend.

Build your pulling strength with London Bridge

If you’re bored of your current back routine, London Bridge is the perfect exercise to spice things up again. You can include it alongside your other upper posterior chain movements or use it to develop an iron grip, but it has its place in a functional muscle and strength training program.

We hope this comprehensive guide has been a helpful resource to help you better incorporate London Bridge into your fitness routine.

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