How to use Battle Ropes: Tips, Exercices, Benefits and Workouts Ideas

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August 24, 2022
battle ropes

Looking to add a new element to your workout routine? Want to add something that will help you build strength, endurance, and power all at once? If so, you should definitely consider using battle ropes for the ultimate full-body workout.

What Are Battle Ropes?

Anyone who’s ever set foot in a gym has probably seen those long, thick and heavy ropes hanging from the ceiling. As intimidating as they may look, they’re the primary tool that’s used during a battle rope workout.

The exercise was initially created by John Brookfield, who wanted to find a way to simulate the rope-climbing that sailors have to do. He realized that by using these ropes, he could create a workout that could provide a number of benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscular endurance and power, and better coordination.

He placed the battle ropes on pulleys and attached them to a sturdy anchor point, such as a tree or a pole. Then, he would start the workout by swinging the rope from side to side, creating waves that would travel down the length of the rope.

Nowadays, the battle rope exercise is a common workout that can be found in many gyms and fitness centers. And while it may look like it’s easy to do, it’s actually a very challenging workout that can help you burn a lot of calories and tone your entire body.

How to Use Battle Ropes?

If you’ve never used battling ropes before, you’ll need to follow some basic instructions in order to ensure that you’re using them properly. The first thing you’ll need to do is to figure out what rope size is right for you.

The size of the rope will depend on your height and your fitness level. The taller you are, the longer the rope should be. And if you’re new to the exercise, you’ll want to start with a lighter battle rope before working your way up to a heavier one.

Once you’ve selected the right rope, you’ll need to find a suitable anchor point. This can be anything that’s sturdy and won’t move, whether that’s a sturdy pole in your basement or a tree in your backyard.

When it comes to securing the battle rope, you’ll want to make sure that it’s tight enough so that it doesn’t move around too much, but not so tight that it’s difficult to grip. Attach it to the anchor straps of choice using a knot that you know how to tie and untie quickly, such as a square knot or a clove hitch. 

Once everything is secured into place, you can start your battle rope workout. Don’t rush into it though – start with slower, smaller waves and work your way up to larger and faster ones. And make sure to keep your grip tight, as this will help you generate more power.

What Muscles Do Battle Ropes Work?

When you’re using battle ropes, you’re performing a full-body workout, engaging muscles in both the upper and lower body. In the upper part, the shoulders, biceps, and triceps are all used to generate the waves. And in the lower body, the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core work to stabilize your movements and maintain balance.

While some might say the focus is on the upper body muscles, the truth is that all of these muscle groups are worked equally. Bending your elbows to create the waves puts just as much strain on your biceps as it does on your triceps. And stabilizing your body with your lower body muscles is just as important as generating the movement with your upper body.

Types of Battle Ropes

As is the case with any type of fitness equipment, battling ropes come in a variety of different lengths, thicknesses, and materials. And while you might be tempted to just buy the first rope you see, it’s important to take the time to find one that’s well-suited for your specific needs.

Length

How long your battle rope can have a significant impact on your workout. If the rope is too short, you might find it difficult to create the waves that are essential to the exercise. On the other hand, if the rope is too long, it can be unwieldy and difficult to control.

As a general rule of thumb, the rope should be somewhere between 40 and 50 feet long. This will give you enough length to create the waves while still being able to grip it easily. For beginners, it’s often best to start with a shorter battle rope and then work your way up to a longer one.

Thickness

The thickness of the rope is also an important factor to consider. A thicker battle rope will be heavier and more challenging to use, in spite of the fact that it might be easier to grip. In contrast, a thinner rope will be more manageable but might be more difficult to grip due to its smaller diameter.

In most cases, it’s best to start with a thinner rope and then gradually increase the weight as you get stronger. You can go with something that’s around 1.5 inches in diameter and then move up to a 2-inch one once you’re more comfortable with the battle rope workout.

Material

The best battle ropes are usually made from either polyester or nylon. Polyester ropes are more durable than nylon ones, which means they can withstand more wear and tear. They’re also less likely to absorb water, resulting in a rope that’s less likely to become frayed or damaged. This also contributes to a more secure grip in wet conditions.

On the flip side, nylon battle ropes offer greater flexibility and are often lighter in weight. This can make them easier to control, particularly for beginners. And because they’re less expensive than polyester models, they’re often the more budget-friendly option.

How Heavy Should a Battle Rope Be?

The weight of your battle rope depends on your fitness level and goals. If you already have a good amount of upper body strength, you might want to opt for heavy ropes to accommodate your strength. But if you’re new to the exercise or lack upper body strength, lighter models might be a better option.

Generally speaking, your battle rope should weigh between 30 and 50 pounds. This will provide a good balance of weight and manageability. Those at the lower end of the scale will be easier to handle, while those at the higher end will provide a more demanding workout.

5 Essential Battle Rope Exercises

Setting up your training station is only half the battle. The other half is putting it to good use with a variety of battle rope workouts to target different muscle groups. 

Alternating Waves

As the name suggests, this exercise involves creating alternating waves with your battle rope. To do it, start by standing with your feet at hip-width and your knees slightly bent. Grip the edges of the battle ropes with both hands, making sure that your palms are facing in toward each other.

From here, begin creating waves by alternately moving your arms up and down. As you do this, make sure to keep your core engaged so that your body stays stable. If you find it difficult to create the waves with the battle ropes, try moving your hands closer together.

Continue doing this movement for about 30 seconds to a minute, or for as long as you can maintain good form. You can take a 30-second break in between and then repeat the exercise for a total of 3 to 5 sets.

Bilateral Waves

A variation of the alternating waves exercise, bilateral waves involve creating simultaneous waves with both arms. This kind of workout with battle ropes is a bit on the advanced side, so it’s not recommended for beginners.

To do the exercise, start in the same position as you would for alternating waves. But instead of moving your arms up and down in succession, move them both at the same time. Repeat the reps-to-break ratio as you would for the alternating battle ropes variety.

Rope Slams

If you really want to get your pulse up during a battle rope exercise, try slamming the rope on the ground. Not only is this a great workout for your heart, but it also works your arms, shoulders, and core.

When you’re ready to start, take a grip on the battle ropes with each hand and raise them above your head. Then, forcefully slam them down onto the ground in front of you. Make sure you don’t move your feet when you do this – the movement should come solely from your arms.

Wide Circles

Perhaps the most common among battle rope exercises, wide circles offer a great workout for your upper body muscles. They’re also relatively easy to do, with a low risk of injury.

To do wide circles, position your feet at the same width as your shoulders and narrowly bend your knees. Then, take hold of each battle rope with either hand and raise them up to shoulder level.

From here, begin making wide circles with your arms. You can do both clockwise and counterclockwise circles, or alternate between the two. Make sure you do the full range of motion with each circle while having a secure grip on the battle ropes and keeping solid ground contact throughout the exercise.

Rope Undulation

For the more adventurous fitness enthusiast, high intensity interval training (HIIT) with rope undulation is exactly the kind of challenge you need. This move is a bit more complicated than some of the others, but it’s definitely worth learning.

You can use one or two battle ropes in the same hand when performing the workout. From there, take a step forward so that your body is in a slight lunge position. Then, begin undulating the battle rope up and down, keeping your elbows close to your sides.

You can also try variations of this move by alternating which hand you start with or doing swirls and figure eights. There’s no limit to the number of possibilities, so feel free to get creative.

Benefits of the Battle Rope Workout 

Battle rope workouts offer a range of benefits, both physical and mental. Through consistent and proper use, you can expect to see improvements in several areas of your health, including:

Improved Cardiovascular Health

The math here is simple – the more your heart works, the stronger it becomes. When you do battle rope workouts, your heart has to work hard to pump blood to your arms, shoulders and upper body muscles. This not only strengthens your heart, but can also help to improve your overall cardiovascular health.

Increased Muscle Endurance

Obviously, any kind of workout is going to have a positive impact on your muscle endurance. However, battle ropes are particularly beneficial in this regard. The constant movement required to keep them in motion forces your muscles to work for extended periods of time, leading to increased power and strength.

Enhanced Coordination and Balance

One of the most underrated benefits of battle rope exercises is the impact they have on your coordination and balance. Because you have to use your arms and the majority of your upper body muscles all at the same time, your body has to learn how to work together as a unit.

This can also positively affect your cognitive function and reaction time, as your brain has to learn to process information more quickly. In other words, using a battle rope can make you not only physically, but mentally stronger as well.

Reduced Stress Levels

It’s no secret that exercise can be a great way to combat stress. When you work out, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. In addition, the act of focusing on your breathing and movements can help to clear your mind and give you a much-needed break from whatever is causing you anxiety.

Battle ropes are particularly effective in this aspect, as the rhythmic motions can help to lull you into a meditative state. If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing, then battle ropes should definitely be part of your workout routine.

Improved Joint Health

Battle ropes are a low-impact exercise, which means they put minimal stress on your joints. You can still get a great workout without putting yourself at risk for discomfort or injury. In fact, battle ropes can actually help to improve your joint health by strengthening the muscles and connective tissues around them.

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.