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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MUGABI123 12/28/2020
gig to have to try these! Report
PATRICIAAK 11/21/2020
:) Report
NEPTUNE1939 10/15/2020
ty Report
TOPALOP 6/10/2020
Battle ropes are a fantastic addition to workouts. I love tossing them in for variety Report
I don't quite think I like them. Report
Looks interesting. Thanks for the information. Report
Battle ropes will test everyone! Report
I would like to have these in my new fitness space that I will be designing in my next home. A gym is a priority for a new healthier body. The battle ropes are going to help w/ both strength & cardio plus I want to tone my upper arms. Report
They are, beyond doubt, the strangest thing I've seen at the gym. Report
not for me i'm sure Report
Exactly what I needed. Report
i have seen others using this at the gym. Unfortunately for me, with my painful shoulders wouldn't dare give the ropes a try now. Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Very informative article! Report
Sounds like fun! Report
To battle! Report
I tried battle ropes at PT last year and thought they were so awesome I boughta rope to use at home! You get a tough workout in short order! Report
Sounds like fun! Report
Thanks for sharing Report
They are intense, but I love battle ropes! Such a great workout! Report
These are brutal! Extremely affective though! Report
thanks. Report
My next battle ground, woo hoo! Report
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
I was happy to see them at Planet Fitness, but they didn't have many ideas. Great article. Report
Something to add to my repertoire Report
Great workouts with these for sure! Report
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
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
Interesting Report
Love the ropes but what a workout!! Report
Love the ropes. Too much fun. Report
I use them at Planet Fitness but only knew about the basic exercise. Thanks for the other variations. Report
They look like fun! I'd give them a try! Report
Interesting Report
Nursing homes are installing these now... Report
Battle ropes are fun. My PF has them. Very popular. Report
This looks really intense.... But I would give it a try in the proper setting. Report
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
Good information! Thank you! Report
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