Battle ropes are fast becoming one of the most popular pieces of kits for gyms to purchase, and it’s not difficult to see why. They’re exotic looking, they can be used in circuit training, or as a high intensity finisher to an exercise program. They can also be stored quite easily and make your gym look badass.
But as a gym member you might not be familiar with how to actually use them. In this article we are going to look at how to fit battle ropes into your program, and introduce you to some of the most popular exercises.
How to incorporate battle ropes into your training
If you are planning on just spending 40-60 minutes using the ropes as your cardio you can forget about it. Partly because that’s not going to make you popular in the gym (anyone hogging a piece of equipment for an hour is going to get some death stares), but mostly because it would take superhuman levels of fitness.
Battle ropes are a high intensity exercise, it is what they are designed for. You would use them as a fat burner or as a way to improve both aerobic and anaerobic performance. Battle ropes are particularly good for high intensity interval training (HIIT). Using them for TABATA is a great way to burn fat and increase aerobic capacity.
TABATA works like this: Pick either one or two exercises, for this example we’ll use two. Set a timer (TABATA-specific timers are the best and can be downloaded for free on your smartphone) for 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 4 minutes. Start with one exercise and go all out for 20 seconds, then rest for 10. Then you would start the next exercise and perform it at 100% intensity for 20 seconds, before again resting for 10 seconds. Repeat this eight times.
So you could combine a battle rope exercise with a kettlebell swing, or a bodyweight exercise, making sure that it is easy to change over between exercises (a barbell bench press wouldn’t work because there wouldn’t be enough time to set up between sets).
You could also use battle ropes as a form of superset. So pick an exercise such as the barbell bent over row or dumbbell shoulder press, and after completing a set you could immediately jump into a 30 second set of a battle rope exercise. This is perfect for anyone trying to burn maximum calories in a short period of time, but not a great idea for anyone looking to build muscle – so keep that in mind.
Four Battle Rope Exercises
In this section we are going to identify four of the most popular battle rope exercises and explain how to perform them. They are all fairly simple to learn, but they are difficult – as they should be for a high intensity exercise.
Exercise #1. Alternating Waves
Stand in a half squat position (knees slightly bent) holding a rope in each hand, there should be some slack on each rope handle – if not then walk forward slightly to create some. Flick your wrists to make the rope perform a ripple, and time it so that first one hand creates a ripple and then the other. Increase speed as you get used to this movement and soon enough you’ll be creating alternating waves.
Exercise #2. In & Out Waves
Stand almost upright (smaller bend in legs than in previous exercise) and hold a rope in each arm, for this exercise you are going to be creating a clapping motion while the ropes swing in to each other. Try not to let your hands smash into each other, because it will hurt!
Exercise #3. Double Waves
Basically the exact same exercise as alternating waves but this time you perform them both at the exact same time. What’s great about this exercise is that you can mix it up with alternating waves, which can help you recover slightly mid-way through a set.
Exercise #4. Slams
A really enjoyable battle rope exercise that will definitely help you find an outlet for some stress or aggression. Start in the same position as you would for a double wave, but instead of flicking your wrists you are going to create a massive wave! Throw the rope up into the air and slam it down into the ground. Another great exercise that you can perform in combination with the waves.