Battle ropes are notorious for firing muscles head to toe while blasting calories and fat — but they’re not for the faint of heart. These 1.5 to 2-inch thick 50-foot ropes generally weigh anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds, and according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, swinging them for just 10-minutes can burn up to 112 calories. It’s no wonder that these no-nonsense tools, which can be found in many commercial and specialty gyms, are a favorite workout among many MMA fighters.
Battle ropes are usually 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.
- Making Waves: The wave movement focuses on toning up arms and shoulders, all while raising your heart rate. Hold one rope in each hand with palms facing each other and thumbs on top of the rope. Extend your arms with a slight bend in the knees. Raise one arm to shoulder height and as you drop it back down, raise your other arm to shoulder height. Keep this alternating pattern up with a whipping motion. Try performing the entire motion in a squat position if you would like to work your lower body more. Intensity can vary by speed of the whipping motion or weight of the rope.
- Jumping Jacks: This movement combines the traditional jumping jack motion with the battle ropes for added intensity. As with the other movements, stand up with a slight bend in the knees at shoulder-width distance apart. Hold one rope in each hand with a reverse grip and perform the traditional jumping jack exercise. The battle ropes will add resistance that builds strength in not just your arms and shoulders, but your entire body.
- Shoulder Circles: 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.
- Squat Jumps: To perform squat jumps with battle ropes, you will need to begin by standing with one rope in each hand. Jump up and land by sitting back into a squat. You should be able to see your toes when you reach the bottom of the squat. Pop back up and then squat back down again. Perform this repetition and feel free to add in the wave or “lam movements from the previous moves to work out your arms more throughout the movement.
- Hip to Hip: To isolate your lateral muscles and core, try this hip alternation movement. Hold battle ropes in each hand with arms together. Bend knees slightly and lock in your core. Shift your weight to the left and move both ropes to the left hip. Hold for one second and then move to the center position. Shift your weight to the right and move both ropes to the right hip. Keep alternating with this pattern until you reach a specific time limit or amount of repetitions.
- Alternating Lunge Jump with Waves: If you’ve mastered the more basic movements and you’re ready to add in a little more intensity, try this lunging exercise. To begin, hold one rope in each hand. Start by bringing one arm to shoulder level. As you drop that arm back down, simultaneously raise your other arm to shoulder level. Once your wave movement is in action, drop your left leg back into a reverse lunge. Jump back in the air and repeat on the other leg. Keep all of these movements going as fluidly as possible for an intense full-body workout.
Whether you’re climbing up the ropes, jumping over them, or throwing them around, training with ropes helps tighten and tone nearly every muscle in your body.
Note: Training ropes come in various lengths and thicknesses, but a 50-foot, 1//-inch-thick rope works best. You can also craft your own: Buy 50 feet of generic 1 1/2-inch rope and wrap the ends in electrical tape. To anchor it, just loop it around a pole.