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A Beginner’s Guide to Battle Ropes

Battle Rope training has been a pretty hot topic in the fitness world for the last few years. A once unique tool that caught people’s eye, today they are everywhere from Adidas ads to UFC highlight films.

My goal in this article to explain the basics, uncover some variables and show you some of the advanced techniques that we have been using at our gym over the last few years.

A few years , I saw some videos on battle rope training, and it piqued my interest. I wondered if it was just another fad or gimmick.

Out of the blue, a trainer friend named Tony Bruno (gave me my first training job in Chicago), called me and asked if I had heard about the ropes. Apparently, he was helping Ingrid Marcum rehab from a lifting injury, and she had opened his eyes to the training concept.

Ingrid Marcum helps facilitate the Battle Ropes workshops and certifications with the founder, John Brookfield. You’ve probably seen or heard about John and his program in Perform Better, Youtube, Ironmind, and many other resources.

Tony is typically very skeptical about fitness gimmicks, but his enthusiasm gave me the confidence to buy and learn more about the system. I spoke briefly to Ingrid and eventually had she and John visit our gym.

We’ve hosted three certifications at our facility, and it has become a pillar of our training program.

Battle Rope Training Benefits

Learning to maintain intensity over time helps increase lactic acid threshold in your upper body. This is unique since the majority of conditioning these days focuses on locomotion, running, climbing, and other drills propelled by the legs.

This has helped us with our other lifts and activities outside the gym. It has also become one of our secret weapons when training MMA fighters. I expect each one of them to be able to maintain intensity on a variety of rope drills for at least 5 minutes.

They are fun. The majority of people that I talk to hate the gym and it’s not because they are lazy. Most people are seriously bored at the typical big box gym. There is no emotion and very little has changed over the last 30 years.

Using tools like the ropes is a breath of fresh air for most people; it creates excitement, it is unique, and it gets people “playing” again.

Developing mental toughness. I think that developing mental toughness and learning to overcome obstacles is one of the most important things we can help people do.

When people start using the ropes, the idea of maintaining intensity over 1 minute seems like a pipe dream, but consistent training will help them break through mental barriers and come out with a new outlook and confidence.

Unilateral dominance/imbalance – The waves tell a story. If you watch the movements carefully, you will notice that one side of your body may move differently than the other; It may generate a smaller wave, be more uncoordinated, etc.

The cool part about Rope Training is that over time, these differences go away. Slowly, you will notice your right and left sides start to balance out.

How to Use Battle Ropes

Relax – Learning to relax under stress is vital. Many people grip the ropes hard and tense up their bodies, leading to quick exhaustion. Grip the rope lightly, relax your arms, shoulders, torso, and even your face; you will be able to move faster and maintain intensity for longer periods of time.

Breathe – This goes hand and hand with being able to relax. Rope exercises are 100% output, meaning that there is no rest. Typical exercises in other training methods have a rest point, allowing for relaxation and consistent breathing patterns. Novices to Rope Training tend to hold their breath and hurt their performance. Try and match your movement with your breathing pattern; as speed and intensity increases, your breathing should too.

Whole Body Training – While most rope exercises are thought to be upper body movements, the entire body should be utilized to increase power and efficiency. The legs and hips play a critical role in generating power into and through the arms. This is important for all movements, especially sports and athletics. When doing the Waves, be conscious of your feet, legs, hips, and shoulders. Make sure to avoid standing too stiffly, and ensure that all areas of your body are active.

Battle Rope Training: The Wave Series

The Wave Series is typically what you see on Youtube, commercials, and advertisements. The most challenging aspect of the Wave Series is that, if done correctly, the exercises have zero downtime; Waves require 100% output.

These exercises can be used in a variety of ways, including various intervals for a particular time and/or for distance. A 50’ rope, wrapped around an anchor, makes 2, 25-foot lengths. You can use this information to design distance workouts (1/4 mile, 1 mile, etc.).

Time, distance, reps, etc. can all be manipulated to a variety of workouts and goals. Your imagination only limits the possibilities. Use the following variables to increase or decrease each exercise to fit your client’s ability levels and goals.

When trying the waves for the first time, 20 seconds will feel like an eternity. Over time, people quickly adapt and can maintain a consistent pace and intensity for 5 minutes to over 45 minutes. We have a wall full of names that did alternating waves for over 10 minutes.

I suggest working up to 10-20 minutes, then working on intensity and speed afterward.

Battle Rope Wave Exercise Variables

The Handle – Fold the rope over, and it doubles the size you have to hold, making it more challenging on the grip.

Distance from the Anchor – Ideally, you start with a little slack on the ropes. By moving closer to the anchor point, it makes it more challenging to get the waves to the end, meaning that you have to generate more power through the rope to get it all the way down.

Body Position – Standing, kneeling, sitting, plank position, and moving while doing various exercises adds a whole new list of drills. As you go from standing to kneeling, less of the body can work, and it becomes harder to get the waves to the end. Adding a variety of movements (squatting, lunging, jumping, lateral movement, and more) can make a basic movement very challenging.

Size of the Rope – Typically, we use a 50’ rope that is 1.5” thick for the wave series. They also have 2” ropes available, but because of its added girth and weight, it is much more challenging.

Wave Size/Velocity/Pace – The size and speed of the waves can also be counted. This is no different than pacing yourself for kettlebell lifting or running. The faster you go, the harder and more intense it becomes. Try to maintain 120-150 alternating waves per minute and see how you fair.

Battle Rope Wave Exercises

Here are six wave exercises, each stressing the body in different ways, using different muscles.

1. Stage Coach
2. Alternating Waves
3. Outside Circles
4. In-Out
5. Sidewinder
6. Rainbows

Battle Rope Wave Challenges

Wave Challenge #1

100’ (1.5” rope) Tsunami Wave. Part one of this challenge is being able to generate enough power to get a wave down the rope to the anchor point. If you can do that, then see how long you can maintain waves to the anchor.

Wave Challenge #2

50’ (1.5”) Alternating Waves. A simple start is to keep the waves going to the anchor for 5 minutes. You don’t need to worry about speed or intensity, just keep the waves going to the end for 5 minutes.

Wave Challenge #3

Once you have completed Challenge 2, start working on increasing your pace (number of waves, per arm, per minute). See if you can maintain 140 waves per minute for 5 minutes straight.

The easiest way to do this is by counting one arm, then doubling the number (otherwise it is easy to lose track). Depending upon the goal or the sport, particular challenges can be designed and used for ongoing testing.

Battle Rope Wave Exercise Demonstration Video

Battle Rope Training: The Pull Series

I rarely see anyone talk about these incredible drills. They are simple, efficient and truly humbling. Climbing ropes are regarded as the number way to develop hand and upper body strength. Unfortunately, not all of us have the space or ability to climb a rope. Some people need an alternative to building up foundational strength, want a safe alternative or simply want to have more variations to use.

The pull series offers another way to challenge your entire body. It is one of my favorite drills, and I use some variation of this at least once per week for myself and my clients. It is perfect for grapplers, but also very efficient for anyone looking to develop more upper body strength.

Rope Pull Exercises

Here are the basic 3 pulling exercises. Just like the Wave Series, there are quite a few variations that you can implement.

1. Facing Pull
2. Side Pull
3. Front Pull

Pull Exercise Variables

Body Position – Standing, Kneeling, Seated, Plank These positions don’t work for every pull mentioned, but do for most. As you attempt the various pulls, you will know right away which one works or not.

Size of the Rope – The size of the ropes is a huge component of these drills. The increased girth makes gripping the rope harder. For some of the testing we do, men use the 2” ropes, while women use the 1.5”. A larger rope also weighs down on itself when piled up, so you will feel some natural resistance during the pull.

Length of the Rope – Ideally, you will use a 100’ rope for all of the pulling exercises. Not only do you have to change less often, but the increased length also piles on itself as mentioned before. This type of resistance is inconsistent and forces you to overcome little bumps along the way.

# of Wraps – Varying the resistance is as simple as wrapping the rope around the pole more or less. One wrap is a good start, but you can add wraps as you see fit.

Time or Distance – We use the pulls in a variety of ways, including timed intervals, distances, and more. Just like the waves, you can determine distance very easily. Want to pull a mile? 53 lengths of a 100’ rope is about a mile.

Battle Rope Pull Challenges

Pull Challenge #1

Pull for distance. Try a simple seated pull over one shoulder for distance. Can you pull a quarter mile without stopping?

Pull Challenge #2

How many wraps can you pull? Adding two wraps can drastically increase the difficulty. Work to add more wraps and see what you can handle, but be careful. Ropes are much different than handles, so for an untrained hand, these can be tough. Start slow and maintain good posture.

Pull Challenge #3

Choose four different pulls and do each for a quarter mile, back to back. It will total one mile (53 lengths of 100’ rope). Try and complete the drill under one hour.

Battle Rope Pull Exercise Demonstration Video

Battle Rope Training: The Partner Series

Some people prefer working out alone, but typically people’s performance improves when they have good workout partners. The ropes provide a lot of interesting exercises that can be used with groups, teams, or squads of people. Partner drills force you to not only overcome the friction or weight of the rope, but also the energy created by your partner. Simply holding the rope becomes much more challenging and a whole new feel from the solo exercises, plus it’s more competitive and fun.

Partner Rope Exercises

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Plank Pull (forward)
2. Plank Pull (side)
3. Plank Pull (reverse)
4. Double-Rope Movement
5. Tsunami Battle

Battle Rope Partner Exercise Demonstration Video

Advanced Battle Rope Exercises

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may be ready to move onto more advanced, challenging Battle Rope Exercises. If that’s the case, give these a shot.

Workouts

Spotted those big, heavy ropes at the gym, but not sure how to use them? Meet the full-body fat-burning tool that’ll reshape your body in no time! Four-legged gym buddy optional

It’s that time of year, when New Year’s resolutions are fresh and gyms are packed. Don’t let crowds put you off achieving yours. This workout uses just one piece of equipment so you don’t have to be that creepy weirdo staring at fellow gym-goers, willing them to finish with that next machine you need.

Waiting for the leg press machine like…

What’s more, battle ropes — those big, heavy things coiled up in the corner — are among the least touched bits of equipment in the gym. They’re fairly new to the average health club, so even regulars find them a bit intimidating. And of those who are willing to give them, most don’t hog them for long because they don’t realise how much you can actually do with this one thing.

READ MORE: 9 Ways You Can Tone Your Entire Body Using Just A Rope

Cardio And Strength In One

You get different gauges of battle ropes. Thicker ones are heavier, but they’re all heavy enough to give you a decent toning work. Expect to feel — and see — it most in your shoulders and arms, but your back and chest will also get in on the action. Your abs are getting a workout because they’re keeping you stable and helping you generate power. And if you include squats and lunges, that’s your legs and butt taken care of as well.

Everyone’s like, gotta shed that holiday weight…

Now, back to that power business. You’re going to need a lot of it to move the rope. Sustain that for even a few seconds and you’ll feel your heart start to pound and your breathing getting deeper just like it does when you do traditional cardio, like running. And because you’re working in bursts of intense effort, you’re essentially doing high-intensity interval training, which has been shown to be most effective for fat burning. Hooray!

READ MORE: “I Tried HIIT Training For 3 Months — Here’s What I Learned”

Your Battle Rope Workout

This workout, by WH How-To Guy and Men’s Health cover guy Johry Batt, co-owner of Huba Fitness, is designed to work your whole body using only a set of battle ropes and a timer. Before you start, warm up your shoulders with two minutes of arm circles, front and back, your ankles with a minute of ankles circles each side and your hips with two sets of 10 body-weight squats.

Watch the video…

Do the moves in order, completing eight rounds of each move before moving on to the next. For each round, do as many reps as you can in 20 seconds, then rest for ten seconds. Once you’ve done that eight times, rest for a full minute before moving on to the next move.

Fallen off the diet wagon already? Burn the cake off with this at-home, post-cheat-day workout.

READ MORE ON: Arm Workouts Battle Rope Workouts Biceps Fitness Leg Workouts Legs Shoulders Total Body Workouts Workouts

Battle Rope Sizing Guide

Battle ropes most commonly come in three lengths (30, 40 or 50 feet) and two thicknesses (1.5″ and 2″). The size you should get depends on two main factors: your fitness goals, and the amount of space you have.

Thickness

  • Thick ropes carry more weight, while longer ropes allow for a more fluid motion.
  • Thicker ropes require bigger hands and greater grip strength.
  • If you’re looking for high intensity, cardio blasting workouts, we recommend the 1.5″ diameter battle rope. These ropes will allow you to go hard, maintain a solid grip, and will fit perfectly into a circuit training workout.
  • If it’s muscles you’re after and you’re prepared to perform a workout that feels more like a bench press than wind sprints the, 2.0″ width battle rope is for you. These ropes are 35% larger than the 1.5″ width ropes and require a larger hand and stronger grip to maintain control of the battle rope.

Length

  • Shorter ropes aren’t as fluid, but they allow for smaller spaces. Because your rope will essentially be folded in half at an anchor point, you need a straight line that is half the length of your rope. For a 50′ rope you’ll need 25 feet of clear space.
  • The most common length is 50 feet, followed by 40′ and 30′ respectively. A 50′ battle rope leaves you with 25′ in each arm, which is a great length for creating momentum-filled waves for a smooth, low-impact workout.

We recommend: All things being equal, and if you’re unsure of which one to get, we recommend the 50 foot length and 1.5″ width. The longer length will be the most fluid and versatile, and the 1.5” grip will be the easiest to hold and use.

Take the Headache Out of Buying the Best Battle Rope

We want to show you the ropes when figuring out how to buy the best battle rope for you.

You’ll find plenty of content out there already about battle ropes, but the majority of it simply compares brands and different ropes without actually giving you criteria to use for your decision.

This blog addresses the info-gap and hopefully fills it for you, to the point that your head is overflowing with battle rope wisdom and you’re an expert after 10 minutes.

The perfect symmetry of sine and cosine or something from geometry class.

Battle ropes are found everywhere from gyms to boot camps for cardio exercise and strength training nowadays. Battle ropes are labor intensive and versatile making them a great match for interval training/Tabata, part of a circuit, or as a Mortal Kombat like finishing move to your workout.

Besides adding fun to your training, they offer practical benefits such as indoor/outdoor dual use, easy storage and they’re simple to modify difficulty.

Battle rope benefits cover everything from upper/lower body strength, metabolism boosting, fat burning, aerobic/anaerobic improvements, to isometric strength building in the squat position.

Battle ropes fit into any training type as a potent conditioning tool, ranging from endurance, footwork, and stability to agility, explosiveness, and power. Their adaptability to a wide-ranging variety of workouts even extends to their popular use by MMA fighters and boxers. Boxers employ them to help train for specific moves like uppercuts, hooks, crosses, and blocking.

When battle ropes first appeared on the strength training scene, they were all more or less the same; a simple, straightforward piece of gear.

Now they’ve become a bit nuanced.

Looks like a snake charmer’s coiled cobra and the bite feels the same.

Fortunately, the effort required to buy the best battle rope isn’t nearly as hard as say buying a barbell. But there still are a few things to consider.

When figuring out the best battle rope for you, take these into account: your goals, durability, where you will use it, length, thickness, if you run a business, and material.

  1. YOUR GOALS

Although battle ropes most often are used to focus on upper body and cardio, there are many more uses for battle ropes.

Before deciding what the best battle rope for you is, consider your physical strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.

We’ll discuss size (length, thickness/diameter) more later, but if you’re new to battle ropes or you’re less beefy, you’ll want to start with a smaller, light rope and work your way up.

That said, do you want to build muscle, cardio endurance or explosiveness?

1a. Build Muscle

If you want to build muscle, and your fundamentals are already solid, you can probably go with a burlier rope.

In this case, a 2” thick or thicker rope will dial up your training intensity and give you a max assist in breaking down muscle fibers.

1b. Build Cardio Endurance

Want to stop huffing and puffing when you use the stairs? Opt for the 1.5” rope or smaller, so you hone in on the cardio benefits.

Doing so provides more control and will enable you to execute complex movements in tandem with the ropes. You can give yourself a smackdown doing squats or lunges for example while alternating the ropes side to side or up and down.

Sacred geometry/Fibonacci sequence in the garage gym.

1c. Build Explosiveness

Want to ramp up your intensity? Be wise in finding the Venn diagram sweet spot of length and diameter that allows you to erupt with bursts of strength for set periods of time.

If you’ve never done waves with a 2” rope for a minute, then you don’t know the accompanying burn.

On the other hand, doing 5 minutes with a slim and trim rope stings you.

If you’re locked into a high-intensity interval training program, regular battle rope use will lead you to a higher tolerance. You’ll always be chasing that first battle rope buzz, by moving upward to bigger and heavier ropes, as your intensity demands more challenges.

1d. Business

The last note about goals is if you’re a gym/box owner, running a business, and/or catering to clients and customers.

If you are, durability becomes paramount. You’re going to beat up those ropes at a faster pace. Also, what kind of training are your clients doing? This will also determine which rope to go with.

We’ll go into more depth about battle ropes for business later.

  1. DURABILITY

Durability is A #1 when it comes to battle ropes. You’re going to be slamming them left and right, and depending what you have them looped around or anchored to, they’ll take that much more of a beating.

Battle ropes should be durable enough to be used on a battleship, and so coveted, that after the battleship is decommissioned, the ropes are sold second hand to the highest bidder in minutes.

Nearly any battle rope will feel rugged and stout in your hands, however many will not hold up in the face of pressure. They frequently fray after intense use. This is totally unacceptable.

If you have durability concerns about a battle rope, you’re best off running a testimonial investigation and reading customer reviews of the product, especially those owners who’ve used it for a while.

You may notice some battle ropes shed.

This is because they’re organic, and made from manila, which comes from a plant. (Sisal vs. manila ropes are a thing, especially for climbing purposes)

When a manila rope gets repeatedly banged on the floor, squadrons of annoying, miniscule hairs parachute down to the ground. They’ll pile up in a flash and make a bit of a mess.

No worries at all if you’re outside. But if you’re inside, you probably don’t want to deal with that mess.

Closeup of manila rope fibers that you may be sweeping up later.

The majority of battle ropes employ synthetic fibers for their construction: nylon, dacron and polypropylene. None of these shed and they’re great both for indoor/outdoor use.

Finally, you’ll find some battle ropes encased in a sleeve nowadays. They’re a gimmick, used to jack up the price to prevent “scuffing” or “getting dirty.” Pfft.

They’re a joke. Don’t waste your time or money.

Do you sheath your barbells? Didn’t think so.

Ropes are meant to be used and abused. The amount of dirt and scuffing they absorb is a badge of honor and a tip ‘o’ the hat to your training discipline.

Regardless of wear and tear, a quality poly dac rope will be your training partner for years with no adverse effects.

  1. WHERE?

Since a battle rope is meant to be wrapped around or anchored to a fixed point and held by the ends, what you’re using as that anchor becomes important.

Where are you using your battle rope? Outside, inside, home, garage gym, training facility?

How much space do you have to work with?

Keep in mind, that you must have a straight line of clear space that’s half the length of your rope. Have a 50’ rope? You need a 25’ space.

What are you anchoring your battle rope to? Do you even have anything to anchor it to?

Our setup at Fringe HQ

You can always use a light pole, fence pole, trailer hitch, strong tree, fire hydrant, weight bench, maybe even a mailbox post. It comes at a cost of friction though. Whatever you anchor it to, the battle rope must be able to endure the constant friction and stress. If you’re using your battle rope outside, it better to battleship caliber.

If you don’t have an anchor point, you can always use a heavy kettlebell (80 lb+) or buy a battle rope anchor.

Lastly, don’t go attaching your battle rope to just anything.

Don’t anchor it to something sharp. A sharp edge will cut the rope’s lifespan in half or less. Avoid at all costs. Some trees sport rough bark that will effortlessly wear down a rope to your dismay.

  1. LENGTH

30’, 40’, and 50’ are the most common battle rope lengths.

Base the length you need on your fitness goals and available space you have.

Do keep in mind your rope will be halved in length after wrapping it around whatever or anchoring it to make the 2 ends.

A 40 footer is really 20 feet. A 30 footer is really 15 feet.

This difference in length impacts how you perform the movements, as shorter ropes decrease fluidity.

Also give yourself an extra 5 feet beyond the rope length to give you working room.

The most popular are 50 foot ropes due to the wide belief that they have the most benefits. But again, space dictates length.

How much room do you need for a 50 footer?

If you answered 30’ you win a prize.

Always remember, the shorter the rope, the less fluidity you’ll have.

The longer the rope = more fluidity.

What does “fluidity” even mean? Shorter ropes can slap and catch because your undulations don’t reach the end of their rope, so to speak, before hitting the anchor point and getting feedback sent back up.

The longer the rope, the harder the training.

The lone exception when it’s ok to get hosed.

  1. THICKNESS

Do you want to get your heart racing, have a quick workout, or do you want to bulk up and add mass with a devastating strength workout?

The two most common diameters are 1.5” and 2”.

The rope gauge has a bigger influence on your training than you may realize.

That little half inch difference impacts your goals and workload HARD.

Thicker = more weight = difficulty UP.

Heavier ropes work better for quicker sessions with more intensity.

Lighter ropes work best for cardio training and aerobic/endurance focus.

Hand size and grip strength also influences thickness choice.

Small hands? 2” thick rope will be difficult to handle.

But if you’re beserker sized and use to hoisting heavy battle axes, then a 1.5” thick rope may feel puny to you.

In these cases, the exercise matters not, but the size of the individual and what works for you does.

1.5” ropes work awesome for cardio blowouts and HIIT training, enabling you to go super hard, keep a vice grip and make an ideal fit for circuit training. Think dialed up intensity and faster. These work best for the gen pop, beginners, and those not as well endowed physically.

1.5″ battle rope and hands model.

2” ropes build your Viking strength and size more like a bench press or rowing a langskip than doing shuttle runs. They’re 35% heftier than their little brother and require larger hands and stronger grips. Think more grueling and muscle pounding. A 2” rope guarantees to smoke you better than a 12 hour Texas brisket.

The 2 incher won’t leave you short handed.

Don’t even think about a 2.5” rope unless you’re Andre the Giant.

You may be wondering if a thicker rope makes up for a shorter distance.

The answer is yes, but your workout won’t feel as fluid, despite still flogging you into shape.

  1. BUSINESS OWNER

Run a studio, gym, box, or a bootcamp?

Your decision must benefit your customers.

If you run a large studio targeting minivan driving, soccer moms, then lighter, skinnier rope will work best.

If you own a globo gym attracting mobs of muscleheads then serve them up thicker rope.

In either case, be absolutely sure and exact how much available space and room you have for the rope.

You don’t want a rope inching up on the free weight area or deadlifting platforms.

You might want a longer, or even shorter rope, depending on your layout.

Figure out the intensity type of your sessions (low or high), then feng shui your space.

This will make your best battle rope buying choice for you.

  1. MATERIAL

If durability is the A #1 consideration when buying the best battle rope, it’s because of the material it’s made of.

There are basically 3 types of material: manila, cheap poly dacron and quality poly dacron.

A high quality poly dacron rope wins out most of the time.

A poly dacron rope is a blend of polypropylene and dacron plastic fibers. The synthetic fibers get twisted into strands, with the dacron giving strength in the outer braid.

The polypropylene provides a lightweight core and added strength. Using this material in the core lowers the weight and reduces cost.

The primary benefit of poly dacron is its lack of shedding compared to manila ropes.

Manila ropes work awesome if using them outside, where you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the molting of tiny fibers everywhere, which are a pain in the butt to clean up if indoors.

Also, manila ropes will dig 10-25% more into your wallet compared to poly dacron.

If you’re all about organic, environmentally friendly and outdoor use, then by all means go manila, as they’re made from hemp fibers.

If you decide to go poly dacron, then learn how to tell the difference between cheap and quality.

“Polydac” as it’s called is a slick terms that embraces a wide manufacturing process, which includes how the material was created and the amount of polypropylene used to dacron.

Explaining what a cheap rope feels like can be ambiguous. You don’t know it until you feel it and hold it in your hand.

You’ll notice a more fibrous feel and less fluid action than quality poly dacron or manila ropes.

The easiest way to tell is price.

More expensive ropes tend toward a 4 to 1 ratio of poly dacron to polypropylene, which makes for an ideal blend lending to fluidity and durability.

Less than that ratio, putting polypropylene over 30% will make the rope feel fibrous.

Ropes under or around $60 for 30’ with a 1.5” diameter aren’t battleship quality.

Don’t be put off if after you pull your new poly dacron rope out of the box and it’s super stiff.

Much like a weightlifting belt, they need to be broken and worn in. They’ll be fine and fluid after a few workouts and beat down sessions.

GO TOP ROPE ON YOUR TRAINING

If you’re undecided on battle rope training, here’s some quality science that shows you all the benefits and gains.

THE END OF YOUR ROPE

Should you worry if your rope gets wet? Yes and no.

Water won’t do damage to your rope.

But it will do 2 things:

  1. It will make it extremely heavy.
  2. May make it moldy and mildewed if you leave it sitting around in a garage all winter and ain’t nobody got time for stinky, gross ropes come spring.

Finally, if you haven’t already picked up on the idea, you can swap in some firehose if you want, instead of using a battle rope.

Have a fireman friend hook you up or go to your nearest fire station and see if they will part with an old one.

If you live by a port or marina, you may have some options there too.

Of course if you like Fringe and our products, we’d love to rope you in with ours.

Evidently didn’t put the lotion in the basket.

Thanks again for reading Fringe Nation.

Please go ahead and share all your battle and/or general rope wisdom and stories with us in the comments below.

Have a great day, stay awesome and lift yourself above the ordinary!

Adam Miezio

Author

Most People in the Gym Don’t Know How to Use Battle Ropes

Battle ropes have been misused, misunderstood, and mistaken as a fad workout tool that traumatizes the shoulders and achieves little more than looking cool.

We get it. Usually when an exercise looks as badass as smashing wave after wave of thick, serpentine cords into the ground, traditionalists are bound to feel a little dismissive.

But most people approach this exercise all wrong, and we mean all wrong: their form is bad, their goals are wrong, and they use it as an arm workout.

Battle ropes, in fact, can and should provide an effective full-body workout, and they can help powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, strongmen, and functional fitness athletes reach their goals.

We’ve just been using them wrong.

“Most people think of the rope as an aerobic tool for the upper body,” says Aaron Guyett, Master Battle Rope Trainer at Onnit, founder of Innovative Results, and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. “You can train power, you can train strength, you can build lean body mass, and you can build aerobic capacity with the rope. You just need to understand how to vary your position, the rope, and all the different variables to generate your maximum expenditure of force.”

Battle ropes go way beyond alternating waves. You can use them to improve rotational and multiplanar strength and stability, scapular health, force production, and if you control your breathing and keep the intensity low, they can even be used as a decompression tool to help the body relax.

And while it might sound trivial, the fact that it’s a lot of fun and looks cool is relevant; after all, you’re more likely to do exercises that are fun.

But Aren’t Battle Ropes Bad for Your Shoulders?

There’s no shortage of articles that swear battle ropes will mess up your shoulders, subjecting them to “violent assault” and predisposing them to injury.

Unsurprisingly, the answer to these concerns is the same as the answer to concerns about deadlifts being bad for your back and squats being bad for your knees: bad form is what cause injuries, not the movements themselves.

Guyett attributes injuries to poor coaching and poor understanding of movement in general.

“Putting your shoulder in a vulnerable position can be a problem,” he allows. “But at the same time sports like climbing, boxing, and throwing put your shoulder in a vulnerable position multiple times throughout the activity. If you don’t have active engagement or control in those ranges of motion, then you will get injured. So I’d say you’re doing more potential damage to your shoulder by not training it in the ‘vulnerable’ positions, be it elevated scapulae or a shoulder rolled up or forward. If you’re not able to control in that position, you’re setting yourself up for failure and reduced performance.”

A lot of coaches know this: during sport, the body will wind up in vulnerable positions, so we should train to be able to handle them. The challenge, of course, is hitting the balance between strengthening these ranges of motion without getting hurt. When it comes to ropes, much of this issue comes down to form.

“If you start in a functional range of motion under control and create perturbations your body can handle, then you’re going to improve very rapidly because that’s what our bodies are good at: adaptation,” says Guyett. “We want to push the body just past homeostasis so the soft tissues can adapt and produce a stronger joint capsule and surrounding musculature.”

So What’s Correct Form With Battle Ropes?

There are a ton of different exercises you can do with battle ropes but the basic alternating waves exercise is the gold standard. It’s the go-to, like the swing for the kettlebell.

A lot of people try to grip hard and pull tight on the ropes so that their shoulder is almost fighting to stay in its socket. Don’t do that. If you want to produce more force and have a tougher workout, give yourself more slack — it’s the slack that creates the higher waves that generate more force, which means more carryover to your strength training.

Check out the video below to see Guyett coaching alternating waves and a couple of other lower body-dominant movements.

Notice that the athlete isn’t standing still—the whole body rotates slightly with each movement.

“Stand straight up and down with a long spine and a proud chest but allow some transverse plane movement to happen,” he says, noting that the spine stays in the same place as the body moves around it. “Allow some rotation on the balls of the feet, through the femur, through the hip, and through the spine to generate some of the vertical alternating waves. You want to allow your arms to relax and grip the ropes with just enough force to not lose it and still send that wave all the way down to the anchor.”

There’s another reason alternating waves are the gold standard exercise for battle ropes: brain health.

“You’re actually creating a whole-brain connection, your right and left hemispheres, your upper cognitive and lower limbic systems, the whole brain has to work together,” says Guyett. “So you’re optimizing yourself from a central nervous standpoint, a peripheral nervous standpoint, and a musculoskeletal and circulatory standpoint. When you look at alternating waves through this lens of understanding, it becomes a far more powerful tool.”

Alternating waves help build force and strengthen the shoulders while minimizing muscle soreness, as there’s no eccentric load. They can also train the ATP-CP, glyclolytic, and oxidative energy systems depending on our rest intervals: ATP-CP is used for short, intense bursts of under fifteen seconds, glycolytic mostly takes over for 30 seconds to two minutes, after which the oxidative system is primarily used.

There are two more overlooked but fundamental exercises that strength athletes can benefit from.

Lateral Waves Battle Rope Exercise

Powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters often have a bad habit of moving entirely in the sagittal plane, and lateral waves are a dynamite exercise for improving rotational strengthand power in a fun, dynamic way. Rotational strength can improve overhead lifts by boosting stability and preventing force leakage during movements like the snatch, plus it reduces the risk of injury and carries over into functional movements.

Guyett recommends that powerlifters and weightlifters incorporate a session of lateral waves twice a week of between five and twenty minutes, starting with one-minute sessions until your capacity increases. Along with boosting rotational strength and lowering injury risk, it’ll improve aerobic capacity and recovery between sets and workouts.

But if you don’t do a lot of rotational movements, first move in a small, contained range of motion until you build up that strength and mobility. (Remember what we said earlier about putting yourself in vulnerable, but not too vulnerable positions.)

Outside Circles Battle Rope Exercise

You can’t see a lot in the video above, but outside circles bring the key component of scapular strength and stability into play.

The idea is to move the hands together in, up, and out so you’re creating two circular, cyclonic waves that are going outward toward the anchor.

“That’s gonna create massive strength, stability, and mobility through the scapulae which is a must for powerlifters, weightlifters, and functional fitness athletes,” says Guyett. “If you don’t have scapular stability and mobility you’re not going to be able to bench well, snatch well, or even squat well.”

He also notes that it’s a movement that takes your hands in and out of a range in lateral, sagittal, and rotational patterns.

“So now you’re treating your shoulder like a ball socket joint, which is what it is, instead of just training it as a hinge type joint, which creates vulnerabilities in certain outer ranges of the shoulder complex,” he notes.

The End of the Rope

When it comes to building rotational strength and scapular strength, most people turn to bands and cables. When it comes to building force and developing our energy pathways, most people turn to weights. What those ropes in the corner of your gym provide, though, is not just an unusual form of cardio, but an extraordinary variety of movements that can build several kinds of strength and stability while actually being enjoyable and building your conditioning while you’re at it.

Battle ropes have a ton of uses for every single kind of strength athlete. Give them another shot.

This post originally appeared on BarBend. Featured image via @battleropeexercises on Instagram.

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This 8-Exercise Battle Rope Workout Is Beginner-Friendly—but Not Easy

Wondering what to do with those heavy battle ropes at the gym? Luckily, you’re not in Phys. Ed., so you don’t have to climb them—but there are plenty of killer battle rope exercises you should try instead. (And, FWIW, you should consider making the rope climb one of your fitness goals.)

Don’t just walk right past the battle ropes just because you aren’t sure how to use them or think they’re reserved for more advanced exercisers. You could be missing out on some major body benefits (in fact, battle rope exercises are among The Best Metabolism-Revving Strength Moves, According to Science). One study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that 30-second bursts of battle rope exercises followed by one-minute rest intervals are the best way to maximize your cardio and stoke your metabolism. Exercisers who did eight sets of these work-rest intervals burned up to nine calories a minute. (Hellooo, benefits of HIIT training!)

Ready to throw it down? Justin Flexen, group fitness director at Crunch, designed these battle rope exercises to create the ultimate fat-burning battle rope workout, and we got Beth Lewis, strength coach at Body Evolved in Manhattan and program director at City Row, to show you how to perform each move so you can feel comfortable and confident picking up a set of battle ropes next time you hit the gym. Because it’s easy to scale-down battle rope exercises (you just slow down your pace) this battle rope workout is beginner-friendly, but can still be challenging AF.

If you want to include more than just battle rope exercises into your workout, steal some of these moves and mix them with some free-weight and bodyweight moves to create the perfect circuit workout.

8-Move Battle Rope Workout

How it works: Perform each battle rope exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for one minute before moving onto the next move. When you get to the end, rest for one minute. Repeat the circuit three times, and you’ll get an awesome workout that’s not only quicker than your usual hour-long gym session but way more fun!

Double-Arm Wave

Start with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward and knees slightly bent. Grip the ropes with palms facing the floor and move both arms at the same time up, then down, using your full range of motion. Keep a brisk pace. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Single-Arm Wave with Squat

With feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward, sit into a deep squat, thighs parallel to the floor. Grip the ropes with palms facing the floor. Maintain the squat position as you move each arm one at a time, making two waves up, then two waves down. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Single-Arm Wave with Jump Squat

From a deep squat position, start single arm waves. Jump into the air, landing softly back into a squat position. Continue jumping while moving arms. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Reverse-Grip Wave with Lunge

Start with feet together. Grip the ropes with palms facing up, keeping elbows close to rib cage. Begin single arm waves, then step the left leg back into a lunge. Step feet together and lunge on the left leg with arms still moving. Continue alternating while moving arms. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Hip Toss

Grip the ropes with palms facing inward, keeping hands close together. Move ropes from right hip up and over in a rainbow shape towards left hip. Focus on keeping torso upright and abs engaged. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Double-Arm Wave with Burpee

Start in a deep squat position. Do three quick double-arm waves, then drop the ropes and jump into a push-up position. Complete one push-up before jumping back up and grabbing the ropes. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Arm Circles

Grip the ropes with palms facing the floor, arms extended, keeping elbows close to rib cage. Circle arms inward three times, then outward three times. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Power Slam

Start in a deep squat position. Grip the ropes with palms facing inward and bring them up overhead before slamming the ropes to the ground in one powerful motion. Focus on keeping chest upright. Repeat for 30 seconds.

  • By Sara Angle @saraangle22

Battle Ropes for Weight Loss = The Best Cardio?

Battle ropes for weight loss might be the best cardio you’re not doing, and we want to take the drudgery out of garden variety cardio, which is as fun as going to the dentist.

If you dread doing cardio, then you’re in the right place. A lot of people look for novel and unique ways to do their cardio without it feeling like cardio.

Ok, maybe this isn’t totally possible, but battle ropes do eliminate the monotony of cardio, while maintaining the same benefits.

The novelty of battle ropes, plus their low-impact, make battle ropes for weight loss an excellent tool for a wide range of people.

3 Reasons to Try Battle Ropes

1. The program coordinator of exercise science and researcher at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Len Kravitz, PhD, touts the stout benefits of battle rope training in this article. He cites a study which showed that you can burn 94 to 169 calories using battle ropes. In 14 minutes. Yeah that’s right. Up to 169 in 14 minutes. And that’s just an average, depending on your weight, intensity and other factors, you may burn even more.

Assuming you max it out at 169 calories, that equals a shade over 12 calories a minute. At this rate, battle rope training beats stair running, jumping jacks, burpees and even jump rope.This doesn’t come across as a surprise when Dr. Kravitz went on to say in the article, “battle rope training, as a component of a total-body workout, provides a meaningful intervention for improving weight loss.”There are people who will attest to the effectiveness of battle ropes for weight loss.

2. Battle ropes provide low-impact, high benefit cardio training. A lot of people out there can’t be hammering on their feet anymore, or grinding on their knees. Battle ropes eliminate all that. Hardcore fitness freaks swear by battle ropes, due to their low-quality.

3. Battle ropes are a fun novelty. Battle ropes are some of the least used gym equipment out there today. Just because they’re new to you, doesn’t mean they’re bad. In fact, they’re one of the most user friendly pieces of equipment you can own. They don’t break, they don’t hurt you, you can beat the heck out of them, they’re easy to transport, and they’re even easier to store. What more can you ask for than that? That profile is pretty much the exact opposite of every other piece of equipment in the gym. Plus they’ll keep you engage and entertained doing something different.

Say No to Cardio and Cut the Fat

More and more people, trainers and gym goers alike, are catching onto the rising popularity of battle ropes. These people are substituting boring, old, monotonous cardio with battle rope training. Check it out.

If you’re looking for a quality fat burning, circuit workout to do with a partner, watch the guys from Critical Bench.

Finally, if you’re looking to hit your workout hard for a short period of time and at high intensity, then have a look at this fat burner.

But wait, there’s more to battle ropes for weight loss!

The guys over at Bodybuilding.com did a solid piece earlier this year, pointing out some of the same things we did.

They mention the “drudgery of treadmill cardio sessions.”

The guys agree “that they’re fun as hell.”

The guys note that “the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a mere 10-minute battle-rope workout increases heart rate to peak levels and should be classed as high-intensity exercise.”

It doesn’t come as a surprise then that the title of the article is “Torch Body Fat with Battle Ropes.” Make sure to have a good look at it. They include a rather unique, total body battle rope workout for you to try.

And if that wasn’t enough, you may need to do a reality check. Figuratively speaking of course.

Would you believe the effectiveness of battle ropes more if the crew at MilitaryTimes.com backed it up?

Well they went there. Way back in 2013 no less, when they posted this piece, which touts a unique strength bonus with battle rope training.

“Fifteen-minute bouts of battle rope drills three times a week can raise your maximum pushup count by an average of 24 percent within four weeks.”

That’s quite a significant gain in less than a month.

So, this begs the question, “What are you waiting for?”

Conclusion

Battle ropes for weight loss aren’t know to many, but they’re gaining steam.

Don’t let a training tool that’s unknown or unfamiliar to you make you skittish. We have a brand new battle rope, you can get familiar with that we promise won’t scare you!

If you’re already familiar and comfortable with battle ropes, read on.

We know some of you might be looking for some super unique, wild battle rope training movements, so we’ve got you covered right here.

If you have any battle rope training tips, videos, resources or websites you’d like to share with us, please let us know.

Thanks for reading, stay awesome and enjoy your battle rope training.

August 27, 2019 CATEGORY: Battle Ropes, Training Tips

Battle Rope Exercises And Workouts To Get You Ripped

Think battle ropes are just the latest fitness fad? Think again. Throwing these thick, heavy ropes about in your gym does more than look impressive – it’s a ruthlessly effective workout.

Canadian research has found three 15-minute bouts a week for four weeks can boost your max press-ups by 24% and max sit-ups by 7% in four weeks, while a study from the University of Minnesota showed ten minutes of work significantly raises metabolic burn after exercise. Increased strength and fat loss – what’s not to love? Use our guide to the key exercises, as well as workouts and session finishers from the experts to reap the benefits for yourself.

3 Battle Rope Exercises For Your Core

“Ropes are fantastic for working your core because your abs need to be switched on and engaged for the duration of the work period,” says Andrew Tracey, outdoor training expert and founder of youarenotyourgymmembership.com. “You also work through multiple planes – left to right, front to back, and up and down – which will work your abs through different angles and in a variety of ways to engage the muscles harder.”

Full circle wave

Stand tall, sideways on to where the rope ends are fixed, holding the other ends of the ropes in each hand with your hands together. Move your hands in a big circle clockwise in front of your body for 12 reps, then do 12 reps anti-clockwise. Turn around then repeat. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Two-point wave

Start in the plank position with your abs fully engaged and your body straight. Hold the rope in your right hand and raise your left leg. Wave your right hand up and down, keeping the rest of your body stable, for 15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat five times.

Side plank wave

Start in a side plank with your legs straight and your upper body supported on your right forearm. Hold the rope in your left hand and wave it up and down for 15 seconds. Switch sides and repeat. Rest 30 seconds and repeat five times.

5 Essential Battle Rope Exercises

“You can use ropes at the beginning of your session as part of a warm-up or activation phase,” says Charles Allan-Price from W10 Performance gym. “You can also use them in the middle of your workout to build intensity with waves, slams and whips, or you can use them at the end of a workout as a finisher for time or reps.”

“Ropes are great for time-based workouts,” says Allan-Price. “You work at a higher intensity than you do than with, say, dumbbells so you get your heart rate up as well to burn more calories.” Here are Allan-Price’s favourite battle rope exercises to add to your training repertoire.

1 Biceps wave

Keeping the rest of your body still, wave the ropes as fast as possible, focusing on high reps and high amplitude. It’ll prime your muscles for what’s to come.

“Stay in a quarter squat position, with your back straight, and keep elbow movement to a minimum,” says Allan-Price. “Keeping your elbows in will stop your shoulders from burning out and keep the movement in the biceps.”

2 Lateral whip

With a slight bend in your elbows, bring the ropes up as if you were doing a lateral raise, keeping your thumbs pointing slightly forwards. Then whip them downwards. Continue to do your raises at speed.

“This is a great way to target the rear delts and back muscles, which are muscles associated with creating better posture,” says Allan-Price. “Common errors include too much leg movement in and out of the squat, and letting the torso slouch. Keep your chest up and stay in a quarter squat position.”

3 Outside spiral

With alternate arms, make outward circles so that the rope moves like a corkscrew, working your shoulders and rotator cuffs.

“This exercises has a few variations for all levels of ability, from half kneeling to clockwise and anti-clockwise rotations,” says Allan-Price. “It will work the rotator cuffs, which are the small stabilising muscles of the shoulder joints, and create core tension – that’s why it is important to keep your torso as strong as possible by not allowing yourself to slouch. It’s a fun and dynamic way to train the back muscles and rotator cuffs.”

4 Lying T

Lie face down with your arms forming a T-shape, then move them up and down as if you’re preparing for lift-off. It’ll work your lower back and shoulders.

“Another great exercise to work the posture muscles, and a great activation drill when starting a battle rope workout,” says Allan-Price. “During this exercise you’re going to work the upper, middle and lower traps as well as the rear delts, and your shoulders will be burning after 30 seconds. It’s great to use either in warm-ups or as a main set exercise. Make sure you squeeze your glutes and don’t arch your lower back. You should mainly feel this through the upper back and the shoulders.”

5 Jumping slam

The grand finale. Jump up and bring both ropes down together, aiming for high amplitude. Repeat with as much height and velocity as you can manage.

“Any exercise that has the word ‘slam’ in it will instantly become a favourite for me,” says Allan-Price. “Treat this exercise like a squat jump with a slam, so you keep your elbows relatively straight and your torso neutral – and slam the crap out of the rope into the ground to get your heart rate up and burn calories. Remember that this exercise will tire you out pretty quickly, so have a hawk’s eye on your form – with no slouching!”

Upper-Body Battle Ropes Workout

”For any sport that demands upper-body conditioning, like rugby, MMA or CrossFit, ropes are a very useful tool because of the amount of conditioning you can get from them,” says top personal trainer Tom Eastham (@EasthamsFitness). “For maximum effect, focus on maintaining the intensity of the motion from start to finish, no matter how much it burns.”

In fact, if it’s upper-body conditioning you want, battle ropes are the best tool. “It’s hard to get it from anything else without serious fatigue,’ says Eastham. “Sure, you can max out on press-ups and suspension rows, but you won’t be working for very long. The ropes will fatigue your cardiovascular system before your muscles give in.”

Do this three-move rope workout to whip your upper body into shape. Do move 1 for 40 seconds on, rest for 20 seconds, then do the same for moves 2 and 3. Do 12 rounds.

1 Alternating rope whips

Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, holding a battle rope in each hand. Begin to move the ropes up and down one at a time creating a wave movement through both ropes. Move the ropes quickly and smoothly, one at a time.

2 Wrestler throws

Grab the ropes in a reverse grip so the ends are pointing toward the ceiling. Whip the ropes up and over, rotating your whole body to the left. Then whip up and over and rotate your whole body to the right. Do as many reps as you can, always imagining you’re throwing the rope to the floor.

3 Lunge slam

Holding a rope in each hand, raise your arms and slam the ropes down into the ground as hard as you can while lunging to one side. Repeat the move on alternate sides.

Battle Rope Finishers

Quickfire rope workouts for fast fat loss and upper-body conditioning.

Tabata rope whips

What Eight rounds of 20 seconds’ work and ten seconds’ rest of double rope whips.

Why “We are not looking for power here, just total rep count over four minutes,” says Eastham. “Grab a friend and ask them to count, then challenge them to beat your score. It’s all about intensity over volume – something CrossFit does very well. This challenge should bring your intensity towards the max.”

Burpee whips

What Alternate five double rope whips with one burpee. See how many burpees you can manage in 60 seconds.

Why “Any contact sport athlete needs the ability to get up from the floor quickly and often,” says Eastham. “With the rugby players I train, I test their max effort burpee score in 60 seconds. Add in some battle ropes and they are in a mess. A great test of your max power output.”

Muscular endurance test

What The exercise is simple. Alternating singe arm rope whips. Work for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds.

Why The aim is to complete as many intervals as possible, keeping a steady pace and without dropping the rope. “This is as much a mental toughness test as it is a physical one,” says Eastham. “Be honest with yourself, and don’t drop the tempo of those whips.”

Fat Loss Battle Ropes Workout

“Ropes are a staple part of my kit because they enable you to pull, drag, climb and generally manipulate your resistance training in ways you can’t with barbells and dumbbells,” says Tracey, who demonstrates how to use them here. “And when used as ‘battle ropes’ they provide you with an extremely affordable, portable alternative to traditional cardio equipment, giving you the whole-body benefits you’d get from machines like the rower or the ski erg, at a fraction of the price and the convenience of using it anywhere and anytime.”

“Intensity is the key here,” says Tracey. “Unlike weight training, where you’re dealing with resistance and liable to get injured if you push too hard, with battle ropes density is the name of the game so aim to fit as many whips, slams and waves in as you can to jack your heart rate up and get your lungs screaming.”

Start a stopwatch, then do:

  1. 20sec press-up position slams (left arm)
  2. 20sec press-up position slams (right arm)
  3. 20sec seated alternate side slams
  4. 60sec standing rope waves
  5. 60sec rest

Do four or five rounds in total.

20 Epic Battle Ropes Exercises

Chances are, jump ropes have been in your life since the PB&J-and-juice-box days of your childhood. So it’s time to add a new, badass kind of rope to your fitness routine: battle ropes. You’ll usually find them anchored to a wall or sturdy beam or pole, and while they may vary in length (they can be up to 100-feet long), weight, and thickness, all battle ropes serve the same purpose: Providing a killer workout.

As the name implies, these supersized ropes are heavy, which adds resistance (i.e. a major challenge) to work your muscles like never before. The benefits: You strengthen your abs, arms, and shoulders, engage your legs, and get a killer conditioning workout all in one go. Better yet, waving, slamming, and whipping these hefty ropes doesn’t strain your body the way high-impact activities do—but you still reap serious fitness benefits. In fact, research suggests using battle ropes for just 10 minutes can be considered a vigorous workoutMetabolic cost of rope training. Fountaine, C.J., Schmidt, B.J. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2013 Jul 26.. Plus, high-intensity interval training with battle ropes may improve both aerobic and anaerobic capacity after just four weeks. In other words, you’ll be owning both strength and endurance workouts.To top it off, battle rope training torches about 10 calories per minute—more than both burpees and squats! So we’re not super surprised that top fitness experts, like Alonzo Wilson, founder and director of training at Tone House in New York City, are totally roped in to this workout.

“They work every muscle group simultaneously and allow freedom of movement,” Wilson says. Another bonus? They can also be catered to your fitness level—whether you’re a beginner or a pro athlete, he adds.
Ready to slam your way into top shape? Add these 20 kick-butt battle rope exercises (some are Wilson’s very own go-to moves) to your fitness routine!

Beginner Movements

1. Double Wave

Wave your way to a fitter form and master the basics of the battle ropes with this exercise. To start, stand facing the anchor with feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand so that your palms face each other. Bend knees slightly, brace your core, and move both arms up and down rapidly, creating waves in the rope.

2. Alternating Wave

Talk about makin’ waves! Stand facing the anchor point with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grab one end of the rope in each hand so that your palms face in. Raise one arm to shoulder level and then quickly lower back to start, raising the other arm to shoulder level as you do so. Continue alternating as rapidly as possible without losing form.

3. Low Alternating Wave

While the movement for this one is exactly the same as the alternating wave listed above, this version brings your lower body into the equation. Instead of standing, you’ll lower down into a squat, keep your core engaged, and then move your arms as you do with the alternating wave.

4. Shoulder Circles

Put your shoulders to work! Though this move looks simple, it’ll yield serious shoulder strength, which is ideal for boxers and swimmers in particular. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grasp the rope with palms facing down, lift arms over your shoulders, and move your arms in circles. Perform clockwise circles for 30 seconds, then counter-clockwise for another 30 seconds.

5. Snakes on the Floor

This snake-y move is a killer shoulder workout. Stand facing the anchor and position your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, holding the ropes by your sides. Lower into a squat, pulling your arms wide and keeping them parallel to the floor. Without crossing hands, move your arms in toward one another and then back out—your goal is to make the ropes look like two snakes on the floor.

6. Shoulder Press

No need to limit your shoulder presses to barbells and dumbbells—you can totally use battle ropes too! Hold the ropes on your shoulders (make sure there’s tension on the ropes). Press the ropes upward as you straighten arms overhead. Bring them back down to the start position.

Slamming Movements

7. Power Slam

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that anything with the word “power” in it is bound to be one tough exercise—and this one’s no exception. To start, stand with feet hip-width apart and grasp the ends of the rope in each hand. Bring both arms up overhead, and then forcefully slam the ropes down into the ground, lowering into a high squat as you do. Straighten up to return to standing and repeat.

8. Side Slam

Slam your way to a fitter physique (and obliques). Face the anchor, feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Grab the ends of the rope with palms facing in. Brace your core and hold the rope on the left side of your body. Raise your arms up overhead and forcefully slam the ropes down to the right of your body. Continue alternating sides.

9. Alternate-Arm Power Slam

A variation on the power slam listed above, you’ll be executing the exact same movement, but instead of raising and slamming both hands at the same time, you’ll restrict the movement to one arm. Do one whole set of the move with one arm and then another set with the other arm.

10. Plyo Knee-Tuck Slams

Assume the position—the push-up position, that is. With one end of the rope in each hand and palms facing in, jump both feet into the air and draw your knees in toward your chest (this is the knee tuck—which looks similar to a plank tuck jump, except you won’t ever land with your knees tucked in). Immediately shoot legs back out into push-up position, and then explosively jump to your feet (a little wider than hip-width apart) with the ropes in hand. Raise arms overhead as you extend your body until you’re on your toes. Lower down into a squat, slamming the rope down to the ground as you do. Return to the push-up position.

11. Plyo Knee-Tuck Push-Up Slams

This combo move not only builds total-body strength, but it also works on explosive power, Wilson says. Plus, it adds an extra challenge to plyo knee-tuck slams. Begin in a push-up position, with one end of the rope in each hand. Jump knees in toward your chest and then immediately shoot legs back into push-up position. Lower your body into a push-up, and then explosively spring up to standing, keeping hold of the ropes. Raise arms overhead as you extend your body until you’re on your toes. Lower down into a squat as you slam the rope down to the ground. Place hands on the floor and return to a push-up position. That’s one rep—phew!

Explosive Movements

12. Alternating Wave Lunge Jump

Now that you’ve mastered lunging and waving, up the ante even more. Begin with the alternating wave. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, and then jump up into the air, switching legs so that you land with your left leg extended back. Continue alternating as smoothly as possible and without losing form—you’re going to want to keep your head and chest up throughout this move too.

13. Alternating Wave Jump Squat

Paired together, squats and alternating waves make for one total-body toner—it even targets your core. Perform low alternating waves, and once your waves are nice and steady, jump up into the air, landing in a squat. Repeat, and remember to keep the wave going throughout the entire movement.

14. Plyo Knee Tuck Into Push-Up to Alternating Wave Switch Game

The longer the name, the tougher the exercise—and brace yourself: This one’s a doozy. Begin in push-up position, with one end of the rope in each hand. Perform a knee tuck, a push-up, explode up to stand, and power through alternating waves for 10 seconds. Return to the starting push-up position. Aaaand pat yourself on the back.

15. 180-Degree Jumps

Stand so that the left side of your body is facingthe anchor, and position the ropes in front of you. Grab the ends of the ropes and hold them together with both hands in front of your right hip, palms facing each other. Lower into a squat and jump up, turning toward the anchor and rotating your body 180 degrees while you swing the rope overhead. Land softly in a squat, positioning the ropes in front of your left hip. Repeat on the other side, landing back in the starting position.

16. Star Jumps

Star jumps, as their name suggests, are outta this world. But make no mistake: This move will jack up your heart rate and make you feel the burn, especially when battle ropes are involved. To start, stand in a narrow squat and grab one end of the rope in each hand. Jump up, kicking your legs out to the sides and swinging arms (and the ropes) out to the sides and over your head. Land softly in a squat position, with hands in front of your hips.

Compound Movements

17. Alternating Wave Reverse Lunge

Waves, and lunges, and battle ropes, oh my! “This exercise is great for not only your upper body, but your lower body as well, targeting your quadriceps, forearms, biceps, back, and abs,” Wilson says.
Begin with the alternating wave exercise (see No. 2 for a reminder). Once you get a good wave going, step your right leg back into a lunge. Return to standing and then repeat on the other side, stepping your left leg back into a lunge. Continue alternating legs as you make waves with your arms (and the ropes), keeping your head and chest up throughout the entire exercise.

18. Up-Downs Into Snakes Switch Game

Begin in a standing position and grab the rope in each hand, holding the ends by your sides. Drop your body to the floor and catch yourself with your hands (place them in a push-up position on the floor beneath you as you land), letting your chest touch the ground—similar to this, except you won’t do the shuffle movement. Explode back up to stand, and then lower your body into a squat. Pull arms wide and keep them parallel to the floor. Without allowing your hands to cross, move arms in toward one another and then back out as quickly as you can—it’s the snake-y movement again! Return to stand.

19. Squat to Overhead Press

How do you make a shoulder press even better? Add a squat to the mix! Position your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and hold the ropes on your shoulders (you’ll want to make sure there’s tension in the ropes like you did with the regular shoulder press). Lower down into the perfect squat while simultaneously pressing the ropes overhead. Return to stand.

20. Lateral Shuffle With Alternating Wave

Get ready to get moving—even more, that is. Begin by doing the good ol’ alternating waves. Quickly shuffle to one side, whipping the rope and shuffling at about the same tempo. When you’re ready to shuffle back, lower your body into a squat and shuffle in the opposite direction.

The Products

Get your battle ropes and get waving, slamming, and whipping!

  • For bright, colorful battle ropes between 10- and 50-feet long, Onnit has what you need.
  • Shop Muscle Ropes for battle ropes for everyone from kids to elite competitors.

Thanks to our friends at Lululemon for outfitting our model in the 105 F Singlet top, Free To Be *Wild, and Inspire Crop II Pants .

When it comes to cardio, I’m one of those people who like to get it done as fast as possible. Jogging long-distance or spending thirty minutes on an elliptical isn’t my thing. That’s why I love high intensity interval training (HIIT). The basic idea of HIIT is to alternate between periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise (like sprinting, kettlebell swings, or burpees) with less intense resting periods. You repeat this sequence of short, intense exercise and resting for as little as four minutes or as long as thirty minutes. Research has shown that HIIT improves both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, boosts testosterone levels, and ramps up your metabolism and keeps it ramped up hours after you’ve finished exercising.

I’m always on the lookout for new HIIT routines, and I’ve recently discovered one that has become my new favorite: battle ropes.

I’ve heard battle rope exercises described as “wind sprints for your arms.”

That’s a perfect way to describe it.

In just twenty seconds of intense battle-roping, your heart rate will reach its peak and your arms will feel like battery acid is coursing through them. In short, you’ll feel great. I don’t know what it is, but battle rope exercises are incredibly satisfying. And effective: the intense anaerobic and aerobic conditioning that battle rope exercises provide has made them a staple in the training of professional athletes and mixed martial artists.

There’s not much to battle rope exercises. You just hold a thick, long rope by the ends and move your arms up and down or in circles as fast as you can. In essence, you’re “battling” the ropes.

Today, I’m going to give you the lowdown on 15 different battle rope exercises you can do, along with a suggested workout.

The Equipment

Because of the increasing popularity of battle ropes, you can easily find them online with a quick Google or Amazon search.

The battle rope I use is from Onnit.

The longer and thicker your rope is, the harder it is to battle. Go for a rope that’s around 2 inches thick and 50 feet long. That will give you a nicely challenging workout.

2″ x 50′ rope will run you around $125-$150, which isn’t cheap. Fitness companies will sometimes boost the price of something you can get at a hardware store (minus that fancy packaging/marketing), so I looked around for cheaper alternatives. But even basic manila rope of that size from contractor websites costs the same. If you know a source of cheaper rope, let us know in the comments.

I used my basketball goal post as an anchor for my battle rope.

Once you have your rope, you’ll need to find an anchor to wrap it around. Basketball goal posts, fence posts, and trees all work. You can even thread your rope through the handle of a heavy kettlebell and use that as an anchor.

The Workout

Battle rope exercises are an excellent addition to any high-intensity interval training routine. My suggested workout goes thusly:

15 rounds — each round do one of the battle rope exercises described below. Each round consists of two parts:

  • 20 seconds all-out, high-intensity exercise. Don’t stop until the buzzer goes off.
  • 20 seconds rest.

The whole routine will only take you 10 minutes. I use a HIIT Timer app on my smartphone to mark off my time and rest periods. You could also use something like Gym Boss.

The Exercises

Alternating Waves

Alternate moving your arms up and down as fast as you can.

Double Arm Waves

Instead of alternating your arms up and down, move them up and down together.

Double Arm Slam

Lift both arms as high as you can and then slam the ropes down to the ground as hard as you can. Go as fast as possible.

Double Arm Slam Jump

Same thing as the double arm slam, except when you lift your arms up as high as you can, you also jump.

Snakes

Swing your arms together side-to-side and make your rope slither like a snake.

Claps

Move your arms in and out like you’re clapping your hands together.

Outside Circles

Make big circles with your arms. Your right arm circles clockwise and your left arm circles counter-clockwise.

Ultimate Warrior

Turn your body to the right with your feet perpendicular to your anchor. Hold the battle rope ends together in your hands as if you were gripping a baseball bat — right hand on top of the left. Raise your arms up and down as fast as you can. Midway through the round, switch your stance and face the left, and reverse your grip so that your left hand is on top of your right hand. Continue lifting your arms up and down as fast as you can.

Grappler Hip-to-Hip Toss

This is a fun battle rope exercise. It mimics the movement a grappler makes when they toss someone over their hip. Grab the rope so the ends are sticking out from between your thumb and index fingers and hold the ends down by your right hip. Pivot your torso to the left. During the pivot, flip the ropes over your hip as if you were throwing a grappling opponent to the ground. Pivot back and forth like this until time is up.

Alternating Waves + Squat

Just your basic alternating arm wave movement with air squats thrown in the mix.

5 Double Arm Waves + Burpee

This exercise combines my two favorite high-intensity cardio movements. Perform five double arm waves and then perform a burpee. Repeat the 5+1 sequence until your time is up.

Double Arm Side-to-Side Shuffle

Perform a double arm wave while shuffling side to side.

Uppercuts

Harness your inner Rocky with a series of alternating uppercuts while holding the ropes.

Figure Eight Circles

Make a figure eight shape in the air while holding the ropes. Feel free to reverse direction in the middle of your round.

Jumping Jacks

Just hold the ropes by the end and perform some old-school jumping jacks.

Have you tried battle ropes before? Have any favorite exercises we didn’t include here? Share them with us in the comments!

Money Crashers

Rest for two minutes, then perform the entire series a second time. If 15-second intervals are too easy, increase them judiciously. Here are exercises to choose from when developing your battle rope workout.

1. Half Waves

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the ends of the rope in each hand. Bend your knees and hips slightly, and “lock in” your core.
  2. Start an alternating wave motion along the rope by bending your right elbow and bringing your right hand up toward your shoulder, then lowering your right arm as you bend your left elbow up, bringing your left hand toward your shoulder.
  3. Continue this alternating motion with your arms as fast as you can for the entire 15-second interval.

2. Slide and Wave

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent, and your core engaged. Grip the ends of the rope in both hands, holding your hands together at waist-height.
  2. Start a wave-action in the rope by bending both elbows in unison, bringing your hands toward your shoulders, and then lowering them in unison. Continue this action as fast as you can to keep the wave motion going.
  3. After starting the wave, step out laterally with your left foot, then step your right foot the same direction to meet your left foot. Take several more steps to the left in this fashion, all while continuing to wave the rope, then reverse the direction and slide to the right several steps.
  4. Perform this lateral slide while continuing the rope’s single wave for the entire interval period.

3. Upper-Cuts

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the ends of the rope in each hand so that they point upward. Hold your hands at hip-height to start.
  2. Bend your knees and hips and “lock in” your core.
  3. For this exercise, the goal is to perform an upper-cut punching movement, alternating from side to side as the rope creates an internal diagonal wave.
  4. From the starting position, shift your weight slightly to the right as you punch your left arm up and across your body, bending your left elbow and bringing your left hand up to shoulder-height.
  5. Immediately bring your left arm back to start as you shift your weight to the left and punch up and across your body with your right arm.
  6. Continue punching back and forth across your body as fast as you can for the entire interval.

4. Lunge and Wave

The lunge-and-wave exercise combines a half-wave with an alternating backward lunge.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the ends of the rope in each hand. Bend your knees and hips slightly, and engage your core.
  2. Start an alternating wave motion along the rope by bending your right elbow and bringing your right hand up toward your shoulder, then lowering your right arm as you bend your left elbow up, bringing your left hand toward your shoulder.
  3. Continue this alternating motion with your arms as fast as you can.
  4. After starting the alternating wave, step backward about two feet with your right foot, placing the ball of your foot on the ground. Bend both knees and lower your back knee toward the ground in a lunge, all while continuing the rope’s wave action.
  5. When your back knee is just shy of touching the ground, step your right foot back to start, and step backward with your left foot to perform a lunge on the opposite side.
  6. Continue this lunge-and-wave action for the full interval.

5. Perpendicular Wave

  1. Stand perpendicular to the post so that you have to turn your head toward your shoulder to see the anchor point. Point the ends of the rope up by holding them in both hands at your waist.
  2. Bend your hips and knees slightly, and “lock in” your core.
  3. In a single movement, bend both elbows and swing the ends of the rope up and slightly out, so that they end up just above your outside shoulder. Immediately bring your arms back down to the center of your body at your waist, and continue the action to create a wave in the rope.
  4. Continue for the full interval period.

6. Hip to Hip

This exercise should end up feeling like you’re “throwing” the rope from one hip to the other.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees and hips slightly bent, and your core engaged. Hold the ends of the rope in both hands.
  2. Shift your weight slightly to the right side and position your hands just outside your right hip. Turn your torso a bit to the right and lean it slightly forward to really focus the weight of your body over your right foot. This is the starting position.
  3. In a single movement, bend your elbows and bring both arms up and across your body in an arc as you shift your weight from your right side to your left. You should end up with your hands just to the outside of your left hip, your weight centered over your left foot.
  4. Immediately reverse the motion and swing the rope back up and across to the starting position.
  5. Continue the hip-to-hip wave for the full interval period.

7. Jumping Jacks

  1. Start with your feet together, holding the ends of the rope in both hands at your waist so they point up. Bend your knees and hips slightly and engage your core.
  2. In a single movement, jump both feet out laterally as you swing your arms out and up laterally, as if you were doing a jumping jack.
  3. Immediately hop your feet back together as you swing your arms back to the starting position.
  4. Continue for the entire interval period.

8. Claps

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent, and your core “locked in.” Grip the ends of the ropes in both hands at waist-height, your elbows bent at 90-degree angles.
  2. In a single movement, swing both arms out and up laterally as far as you comfortably can, then swing them back in to center, “clapping” the rope together.
  3. Immediately swing the rope back out, continuing the clapping movement for the full interval period.

9. Lateral Waves

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees and hips slightly bent, your core engaged. Hold the ends of the rope in both hands at waist-height, your elbows bent at 90-degree angles.
  2. In a single motion, shift your weight to the right as you swing both hands out to the right while keeping your elbows at your sides. Immediately shift your weight to the left as you swing both hands out to the left while keeping your elbows at your sides. This should create a lateral wave movement along the rope.
  3. Continue the exercise for the full interval period.

10. Slams

While this is one of the more taxing exercises, it can also be one of the most satisfying.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent and your core “locked in.” Grip the ends of the rope in both hands, allowing your arms to hang straight down at the center of your torso. Tip your hips back farther, lowering yourself into a half-squat with your weight centered over your heels. Stop when your hands hang directly between your knees.
  2. In a single movement, explode your body upward, extending your knees and hips as you swing your arms up over your head. You can add a jump to this step if you’d like.
  3. When you reach the apex of your upward swing, forcefully slam your arms back down toward the ground as you shift your hips back and lean your torso forward.
  4. Immediately return to start and continue the movement for the full interval period.

Final Word

Battle rope exercises certainly aren’t easy, but they make for a fast, satisfying workout that doesnt’ require a gym membership. If you decide to give them a try, you might want to invest in a pair of workout gloves – a decent pair can be purchased for approximately $15. The grips on the gloves make it easier to hold the rope handles, preventing them from slipping. This is particularly helpful when your hands become sweaty, which makes it more difficult to maintain your grasp on the rope.

Have you tried battle ropes? What’s your favorite move?

Workouts with battle ropes

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