Rope Exercises: Battle Ropes for Everyone

rope exercisesIt’s a fairly trendy workout. It does take up a lot of space. It’s hard for people not to look at you while you’re doing it – though if you really have an issue with people looking at you in the gym, you should probably get over that. Confidence Booster is the way to go – and it’s noisy.

So why jump on the battle rope bandwagon?

Because it might just be the best quick workout you can do.

Trainers will tell you that rope exercises do what no other complicated pulley-weight or machine or class can do: give you an upper body workout, a cardio workout, and a lower body workout (in that order) all the while forcing you to stabilize using your core. It also helps enormously with grip-strength if you’re having issues holding on to weights.

It’s also fun, challenging, cathartic, and easy to feel progress.

Get Your Rope

Your gym will probably have one. Equinox clubs have 2 or more.

No gym membership? This piece of equipment is fairly portable. You can order one online for personal use. Finally Lose Weight Without a Gym Membership will give you other tools ad tricks to make this actually work.

Set Up Your Rope

For gym workouts, it’s probably best to scope out where other people have set up in the past. An empty studio is ideal as you’ll have plenty of room. You can loop the rope through a heavy kettlebell you position on the ground. Otherwise, any long corridor with no foot traffic will work. What you don’t want is to set up in a place where people need to walk through – your workout will at best get frequently interrupted and will at worst get someone hurt.

If you’re outside, wrapping the rope around anything firmly anchored will work. At a school this could mean a tetherball pole or basketball net. In a backyard this could be a tree or diving board.

Get Planted

Form is very important for all rope exercises. Without good form you risk injury with the repetitive and quick movements necessary when working the ropes.

  • Start with feet planted hip-width apart. Double-check your hip-width – most people think they’re wider than they are!
  • Grab ropes with arms bent. Wrists should never bend but should stay aligned with forearms.
  • Rope should have some slack in it. If not, move forward a few feet
  • Slight bend on the knees – protects your hamstrings and engages your glutes, keeps you from over-using your calves
  • Weight in the heels – forces you to engage the right leg muscles and auto-corrects other form mistakes
  • Spine straight. Do not lean backward or forward (leaning backward is common and will cause you to jump up or forward instead of staying firmly planted)
  • Focus on breathing, specifically the exhale

Getting comfortable in your squat will help a lot with rope exercises. Learn The Proper Way To Squat.

Pick Your Exercises

Different rope exercises will help you focus on different areas, though they will all be cardiovascularly challenging. Keep in mind that whipping the ropes should initiate all movement when doing rope exercises. In other words, every movement starts with the whipping motion – don’t think about bending your knees first or rotating to the side first. That will all come as you whip the ropes in different directions.

  1. High Alternating Waves Get in proper plant position and grab an end of the rope in each hand. Hold proper plant position while you whip waves down the end of the rope with each arm alternately but quickly. Works the mid-back, shoulders, and biceps.
  2. Low Alternating Waves Get in proper plant position and grab an end of the rope in each hand. Now bend lower so that when you whip waves down the end of the rope with each arm alternately, you are making a smaller but quicker movement. Also works mid-back, shoulders, and biceps but adds in the quads which are working harder to keep you low to the ground.
  3. Power Slam Get in proper plant position and hold rope in both hands. Pressing through heels, straighten legs and come up. Bend knees and bring the rope down hard to through the center. Works your shoulders and legs.
  4. Simultaneous Wave Get in proper plant position and grab an end of the rope in each hand. Whip simultaneous waves down the rope. Works your back, shoulders, and arms.
  5. Side to Side Slams  Get in proper plant position and hold rope in both hands. Pressing through heels, straighten legs and come up. Bring the rope down hard to the right, rotating up onto the left ball of your foot. You must turn your left hip over and in to carry out this motion. You are now to the right side with bent knees. Straightening the legs, come up and bring rope down hard to the left by rotating right hip over and in and coming onto the ball of your right foot. Repeat! Works your core, especially the obliques!
  6. Alternating Side Lunge Get in proper plant position and grab an end of the rope in each hand. Start your Low Alternating Waves and continue them as you lunge right to left. Works your arms, core, and especially your legs.
  7. Alternating Reverse Lunge Get in proper plant position and grab an end of the rope in each hand. Start your High Alternating Waves and continue them as you lunge backward with your right leg. Right knee should kiss the ground as you bend through the left knee. Keep weight in left heel as you push back up and bring right leg back up to meet the left. Move left leg back into lunge, etc. Keep alternating legs in a backward lunge. Always remember that in a lunge, your front knee should not come forward farther than your front ankle so keep that good alignment for the health of your knees! This rope exercise especially works your legs and glutes (hint: the more you press through the front heel to come up out of your lunge, the more you work that butt).
  8. Alternating Stand From Knees* This is a gasser! Put a mat down and start on your knees with the rope in each hand. Start your High Alternating Waves while you stand up on one leg and then the other. Then go back down on one knee and then the other. Then stand up. Then go back on your knees. As you continue, make sure you alternate which leg you stand up on first.
  9. Alternating Waves Seated (requires stability ball) Sit on a stability ball and do your High Alternating Waves. Focuses on stability which always works your core.
  10. Alternating Waves on Knees on Stability Ball (requires stability ball or half bosu) ** This is kind of crazy, but if you eventually get to be able to do this exercise for a minute without falling off the ball, it should be considered quite an accomplishment! Kneel on a slightly deflated stability ball. You’ll need to master this first, then you can start your Alternating High Waves while balancing on the ball. Works everything, but you’ll need an amazingly strong core and amazing balance.

Set Your Time Goal

For beginners, 20 seconds on and 40 seconds of rest may be appropriate for at least 5 minutes. You’ll want to work up to one minute on and one minute off.

Whip ‘Em

Go for it, focusing equally on downward movement and upward movement.

Use a whipping movement. Don’t let arms come higher than the shoulders.

Stretch

Always. Choose stretches that focus on the shoulders, hips, hamstrings, and calves and take at least 10 minutes.

All rope exercises use the core, and starting with a strong core can help you get results faster. Take 28 Day Amazing Abs before you start your rope exercise program.

Not ready to commit to the full workout? Take 10 Minute Daily Invigorator instead. It encourages a smaller amount of time and effort but can really help you feel energized for daily life.

* indicates and advanced exercise

** indicates a crazy advanced exercise