Battle ropes are an aspect of training and physical fitness that even has barbell heroes looking like, “What are you doing?”, and it’s easy to see why. It looks eccentric and doesn’t follow the usual motions you see at the gym.
So what gives with battle ropes? Why are they popular, and why are they so effective? They don’t solely train a few targeted muscle groups. Instead, they work out a dynamic group of muscles that you wouldn’t normally interact with as often, which is their main strength.
Let’s go over all of the reasons that you would need to learn to use battle ropes, the benefits that they have, and how you can utilize them to their max.
What Are Battle Ropes?
Sometimes called heavy ropes or battling ropes, these are hefty weighted ropes that measure from 30 ft long to upwards of 0 ft long, and are used for CrossFit training as well as bodybuilding.
The purpose of battle ropes is to increase strength and muscle stabilization, lose weight, tone existing muscles, and improve your endurance as well as your lung capacity. It all sounds like a lot, but when you see what areas of the body battle ropes effect, it makes sense.
Battle ropes come with different thicknesses, sizes, weights, and grips, which is why it can be a very personal fitness experience. You can consider buying beginner battle ropes or trying them out at a local CrossFit-friendly gym to see how they work for you.
How to Properly Use Battle Ropes
Battle ropes have multiple ways that you can use them. Let’s look at a few so you know what you’re doing the next time you go to the gym, or if you decide to purchase and use these on your own.
First and foremost, you have to secure your battle ropes to something that isn’t going to move. This is one in a lot of online tutorial videos by securing it to a squat rack or something similar, but there are plenty of options at your disposal.
The point is that you want them close to the ground so that the center point of the battle ropes won’t move up a lot, and the momentum shifts to the same position. Otherwise, it can really throw off your game.
#1 Double Arm Waves
Get into a comfortable stance and keep your neck and spine neutral, lean in with your hips, and grab your battle ropes. Move both up at the same time and both down at the same time, creating a wave with both arms.
You will feel resistance as the momentum clashes with the center point of the rope; keep going.
#2 Jumping Jacks
It’s PE all over again. Hold the battle ropes in each hand and stand a little bit closer to the center point than you normally would. Hold the ropes so that the handles are coming out of the top of your hand, and begin doing jumping jacks.
Start this with lighter ropes in the beginning and work your way up. This is going to really use up your energy.
#3 Slithering Waves
Keep your neck and spine neutral, lean in with your hips while you take up a stance. Your arms will move side to side at the same time while you hold the battle rope handles, keeping a rhythm as the ropes bend and sway left then right.
Keep this up and monitor your biceps; they’re going to feel it.
#4 Arm Smashes
Arm smashes sound like a term for a physical injury, but in reality, they’re hyper-dynamic movements that work out a ton of your muscles at the same time. Hold one rope end in each hand, and stand up completely.
Pull the ropes up in the air above your head, then while keeping your core engaged, slam them down on the ground, bending at the hips and keeping your spine and back neutral. Repeat with vigor.
#5 We Will Rock These Ropes
This one’s a little bit silly, but a whole lot of fun. Using your right hand, slam down your rope twice, then slam down your left rope a third time. Then, slam down your left rope twice, and your right rope once.
Alternate for a catchy beat while engaging your arms and core in a slightly slower-paced battle ropes exercise.
Battle Rope Benefits
Now it’s time to talk about how battle ropes actually benefit you with an in-depth look. It’s not the most popular exercise, but these benefits will have you doing a double-take and adding it to your routine.
Scalable Exercise: Battle ropes have tons of different ways that you can use them. That’s the whole reason that they’re fantastic at intermediate to expert levels—you can make the workout what you need, not just what a list of possible exercises say you can do. While this isn’t the best at beginner levels, you can graduate from one exercise to the next and take your battle ropes from the start to the end of your physical fitness journey.
Fat-Burning Machine: Dynamic motion means you burn fat from more than just your target area. Beyond that, you’ll sweat like nobody’s business, so the cardio exercise takes you through the motions and really helps shed extra pounds while trimming muscle that’s already there.
Builds Dynamic Muscles: We talk about muscle groups a lot in fitness. Did you know that there are over 600 muscles across your entire body? These are all important, though some less important than others. The major benefit to battle ropes is that you train dynamic muscle groups, as in more than one group at the same time. These groups relate to one another and allow for a broader range of motion, so you’re training neighboring muscles that help each other all at the same time.
Stability-Enhancing: Muscle stability refers to your ability to stay in a specific position without buckling or feeling like your muscles are going to give way at any second. Muscle stability is learned with time, just like endurance, and one of the best ways to train it is to use battle ropes. Your stability matters for other exercises, too, such as squatting and planking. It’s important to train now.
Full Body Workout: Battle ropes are constantly working out multiple muscles throughout your body. A full-body workout is something that people often avoid because they want to focus on specific muscle groups, but a full-body workout is amazing for all aspects of your health from strength gains to cardio and more. Battle ropes put you through the paces, so you’re training your entire body instead of just focusing on key areas.
HIIT Friendly: If you use high-intensity interval training as the main means of physical fitness training, you’re not alone. Battle ropes are excellent for HIIT because it gets intense very quickly, although because of the potential throwbacks, you want to be sure you’re not exerting all of your energy.
Better Endurance: Endurance can best be referred to as the efficiency that your body burns through energy. If it’s not efficient, your endurance isn’t that good. Being strong or fast doesn’t equate to endurance—it’s an attribute that takes a long time to properly train. Because of how many muscle groups you use when you use battle ropes, and how taxing it is on your body, you have to learn endurance or break while trying.
Are There Drawbacks?
Yes. Battle ropes obviously require dynamic movement, which means you’re working out a lot of muscles at the same time.
The goal of using battle ropes is also to use them as quickly as possible to up the intensity, and that can come with its own setbacks.
Glycogen Depletion: Your muscles use glycogen as energy, and this will quickly deplete your glycogen supply, so you aren’t exactly going to be doing battle ropes for 45 straight minutes
Muscle Tearing: You’re using a lot of muscles at the same time, and while that’s great, it’s also dangerous and you need to be careful—it’s why battle ropes aren’t a beginner’s exercise
Joint Damage: If your joints aren’t strong enough at the start of this, you could damage them; the force from moving the ropes can hurt your wrists, fingers, and elbows, which is why you really need to be prepared for battle ropes before you begin them
Battle Ropes: The Better Way to Train
Battle ropes may look like an unnecessary exercise, but when you cut away from only knowing the barbells and dumbbell workouts from the gym, you’ll quickly see how beneficial battle ropes can actually be.
Lose weight, gain muscle, and further tone the muscle you already have, all while building endurance and improving your lung capacity. Sounds pretty beneficial to us!
Justin Rodriguez has spent most of his adult life inspiring people to take their fitness more seriously. He is not new to the business of providing practical solutions for those looking to set and smash their fitness goals. From sharing professional tips and tricks to recommending awesome products, Justin Rodriguez helps just about anyone who wants to get the best out of their workout routines.Having gathered a lot of experience both in and outside the gym, Justin Rodriguez uses DSW Fitness as a medium to show you exactly how to get that great-looking body with toned muscles you’ve always wanted.