Discover the Body-Transforming Power of Battle Ropes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most people who belong to a gym have their "go-to" machines and gear that they feel comfortable and confident using. For some it's the treadmill or the elliptical, while others make a beeline for the free weights or machines. But then there's the other equipment that most people politely avoid—the slightly scary-looking stuff, like the giant tires, the weight lifting power racks and, of course, the battle ropes.
 
If you're a little intimidated by workout equipment that has the word "battle" in its name, you're not alone. But if you're feeling adventurous and up for a challenge, this powerful strength and conditioning system can deliver body-transforming benefits—no combat required.
 
What Are Battle Ropes?
 
These thick, heavy-duty, often weighted ropes can be used as a stand alone workout or as part of a circuit training program. As the ropes are manipulated in various ways, the body gets both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. Originally created by record-holding trainer John Brookfield, the battle rope system has become popular in gyms around the world, and has been used to train dozens of elite athletes.
 
Alex McBrairty, certified personal trainer with A-Team Fitness, often uses battle ropes to help his clients achieve their goals. "Because they work the entire body in all planes of motion, battle ropes have the potential to burn more calories during the workout than single-joint exercises alone," he says. "Plus, they can create a greater metabolic demand than traditional resistance training exercises."
 
You don't have to be an elite athlete, or even a fitness buff, to use battle ropes. McBrairty points out that any of the exercises can be modified to fit the needs of all fitness levels. However, since most moves involve heavy use of the shoulder joint, people with shoulder or back problems should be cautious when using battle ropes.
 
While anyone can pick up the ropes, it is an advanced system with a bit of a learning curve. "You definitely want to try before you buy," says McLean. "Watch other people do them, and ask the trainer at your gym for a demonstration."
 
Battle Rope Benefits
  • Intensity without impact: Shane McLean, online personal trainer at Balance Guy Training, likes that battle ropes provide high-intensity training without the high-impact pounding of running.
  • More bang for your exercise buck: Battle ropes deliver two workouts in one: Strength-building resistance and a heart-pumping cardiovascular workout.
  • Grip strength: "These exercises help you develop a stronger grip, which is an an attribute a lot of gym goers neglect," says McLean.
  • Versatility: As long as you have the available space and an anchor point, you can train with battle ropes anywhere.  
  • Variety: "Battle ropes provide you with a unique full-body workout, and it's a change of pace from the everyday dumbbells, barbells and machines," says McLean.
10 Battle Rope Exercises
 
"Battle ropes are a great addition to any circuit, or as a standalone, total body workout with nearly an endless amount of exercise variations," says McBrairty.
 
Once you feel comfortable gripping and manipulating the ropes, try these 10 exercises. Start by performing as many reps as you can in 15 seconds. As you build up your cardiovascular endurance and grip strength, you can gradually increase the amount of time per set.
  1. Alternating Waves: Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, with one end of the rope in each hand. Squat down slightly and engage the core, then create waves with the rope, one arm at a time, in a whipping motion, as if you are playing the drums. This exercise works the arms and core.
  2. Alternating Waves with Lunge: Want to step it up a notch with a coordination challenge? Complete the same exercise as above, but this time add an alternating lunge while moving the rope.
  3. Alternating Waves with Lateral Lunge: Stand with feet shoulder-width, core engaged, holding one end of the rope in each hand. As you alternate the waves, simultaneously lunge to the side. Alternate the direction of your lunge (left then right, repeat) throughout the duration of the interval.
  4. Double Arm Slams: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding one end of the rope in each hand. Next, lift both ends of the rope overhead and slam them forcefully to the ground.
  5. Jumping Jacks: Hold a rope in each hand at your sides. Jump off the ground and extend your legs out to the sides while raising the ropes over your head. Jump back to the starting position and move your hands back down to your hips. Repeat the movement.
  6. Hip Toss: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged, holding one end of the rope in each hand. Put both ends of the rope against one hip, and move the ropes in an arch motion until your hands reach your other hip.  
  7. Shoulder Press: Stand upright with one end of the rope in each hand. With tension in the ropes, alternate pressing the ends overhead while keeping the core engaged.
  8. Russian Twists: From a seated position, lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle and you can feel your core engaged. Perform a standard Russian twist while holding the ends of the rope.
  9. Burpee Battle Rope Slams: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, holding one end of the rope in each hand. Lean down and bring your hands to the floor while kicking your legs back behind you into a plank position. Kick your legs back into the starting position, raise your torso and repeat.
  10. Grappler Throw: Holding one end of a rope in each hand, thrust both ropes to the left of your body while pivoting to the left, and then switch to the right side. 
Using Battle Ropes at Home
 
If you have the available space, battle ropes can ramp up the challenge and variety of your home gym. You can purchase them online or at most sporting goods stores.
 
When choosing the type of rope, consider how much room you have. "Ropes come in lengths of 30, 40, 50 and 75 feet," explains McLean. "The standard size is 50 feet, which means you’ll need at least 25 feet in space behind you to operate."
 
It also depends on whether you plan to use the ropes indoors or outside. Some ropes shed hairs, which is no problem if you’re using them outside. If you're working out inside, choose non-shedding nylon ropes.
 
Do-it-yourselfers can try making their own battle ropes by cutting a heavy, 1-½ inch rope to the desired length and wrapping electrical tape around the ends.
 
Once you have the ropes, you'll need to wrap them around a sturdy anchor, such as a pole, tree, fence or heavy kettlebell. For a more permanent installation, you can purchase wall anchors. Before getting started, McLean recommends watching this instructional video.
 
Have you tried—or would you be interested in trying—battle ropes?
 
Additional input for this article was provided by Tom Armenta, a performance exercise specialist with DIAKADI.

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Comments

CORPUSDEI 8/10/2018
Sounds like fun! Report
ELRIDDICK 7/23/2018
Thanks for sharing Report
DBECKUM 7/9/2018
They are intense, but I love battle ropes! Such a great workout! Report
ALEPEQUIJADA 5/24/2018
Thanks! Report
SHELLLEY2 5/18/2018
These are brutal! Extremely affective though! Report
LOSER05 4/29/2018
thanks. Report
PELESJEWEL 4/23/2018
My next battle ground, woo hoo! Report
JVANAM 4/17/2018
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. - CHIEF TECUMSEH ~ 4/17/18 Report
HAWKTHREE 3/18/2018
I was happy to see them at Planet Fitness, but they didn't have many ideas. Great article. Report
JOHNMARTINMILES 2/22/2018
Something to add to my repertoire Report
TWEETYKC00 1/30/2018
Great workouts with these for sure! Report
DIROB57 1/26/2018
BTW....the most common length I saw for sale at the local sports equipment store & online (and what they have at PT) is 30 feet so you only need 15 feet of space when the rope is doubled and it is still a GREAT workout! Got my rope on Amazon. :) Report
DIROB57 1/26/2018
I used battle ropes a few weeks ago at physical therapy and bought some to add to my home gym equipment! They are quite the workout...I can't do a whole Tabata workout with the ropes (8 rounds of 20 sec on/10 sec off) because my arms give out so I alternate rounds with kettlebell swings....but one day I might make it all 8 rounds with the ropes! Love them and I feel like such a tough girl using them! LOL Report
BARCELONAME 1/26/2018
Interesting Report
VHAYES04 1/26/2018
Love the ropes but what a workout!! Report
MARSHASHADOW 1/26/2018
Love the ropes. Too much fun. Report
HAWKTHREE 1/26/2018
I use them at Planet Fitness but only knew about the basic exercise. Thanks for the other variations. Report
JSTETSER 1/26/2018
They look like fun! I'd give them a try! Report
JANET552 1/26/2018
Interesting Report
ETHELMERZ 1/26/2018
Nursing homes are installing these now... Report
CHERIRIDDELL 1/26/2018
great Report
MARSHASHADOW 1/3/2018
Battle ropes are fun. My PF has them. Very popular. Report
BABY_GIRL69 12/5/2017
This looks really intense.... But I would give it a try in the proper setting. Report
RIPDJEANSNROSES 10/24/2017
I've been watching a lot of battle rope exercises on Instagram. They are indeed a great workout! My next piece of home gym equipment right after kettlebells. Report
GKNIGHT69 10/20/2017
Good information! Thank you! Report
LESSOFMOORE 9/25/2017
Looks interesting! Report
Love this workout. Report
Looks like a great workout! Report
Whew! Looks like a good workout. Report
I like the battle ropes at my gym, it definitely switches things up. Some of these are new movements for me. The links on each exercise go to a youtube video, for those of you needing a visual tool. Report
When I had a trainer she showed me the different exerise equipment in the gym that I never thought I would use. I actually really like the battle ropes. It looks intimidating but its not . They are very versatile. There are so many different things you can do with them to get an all over workout. The planet fitness that I go to actually has these and I do use them from time to time. Report
WOW ! Never heard of before.
Very interesting Report
My new gym has these, I once tried to lift them, they are heavy! Maybe I should have someone give me some guidance but your suggestions above sound great. Report
I love using the battle ropes for myself and my clients! It's a great workout and I was thrilled to see new stuff that I had never tried in these listed workouts
I train outdooors and wrap it around a tree, or the basketball goal even a outdoor railing will work -- If nothing else have someone stand on one end while work the other end then switch
Report
I have never tried this before, and I admit, reading this article didn't quite explain how to do it enough for me. I'm a visual person.

That said, the article did mention watching someone do it first and I think I would love to try it. I'm going to see if I can find some videos on this.

Great clip. Thanks for writing it... Report
Interesting article, but some of those exercises are only for someone very advanced and extremely fit. Burpee Battle Rope Slams - yikes! I'm 68, strong for someone my age, and have done only the most basic moves. Before anyone thinks about purchasing the ropes, they need to head to the gym and have a trainer show them what they should expect. Report
I used them at the gym and I like the way it gets my heart rate up much more quickly than the treadmill or any of the machines. I am no longer a member of the gym, and wondering where I can put them in my home or yard. Report
Very interesting, I would like to try this. Report
We use the battle ropes in my circuit class. Wow, it is so much tougher than it looks! At first I could barely do the exercises but now I can --- doesn't mean it is easy though, no, not at all! Report
Yes, I've used them at the gym. It was "okay" but not a got-to-do. My shoulders aren't great and neither is my coordination. About the only exercise I would attempt is the first one listed. Report
Yeah, 2 things, shoulders and space. something wrong with one shoulder, and I don't have 25 feet of space anywhere in my house! Not sure if UK gyms have heard of these yet
Report
I never tried this before but it is a dream workout for me. Report
 
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