Battle ropes are thick heavy ropes that are anchored to a fixture at the end. They are relatively new, having been brought onto the fitness scene by Strongman world record holder John Brookfield.
Battle ropes’ novel quality is that there is not a split second of rest when using them, they engage the muscles throughout each move.
This distinguishes them from other pieces of equipment, like kettlebells or weights, and delivers a pretty intense workout! In this post, we are going to discuss the benefits of training with battle ropes and advise you on how to choose the right set for your needs.
What are the different battle rope exercises?
Battle ropes can be used in a multitude of different ways. Popular moves include:
- The iconic ‘wave’
- overhead rope arcs
- reverse wave
- rope slams
- outside circles
- Olympic power thrusts
While battle ropes are controlled by the arms, the effects can be targeted at any of the body’s muscle groups – arms, back, core, glutes, the lot. Changes in how you move the ropes, as in the examples given above, how you hold the ropes (gripping the top or bottom of the handle), and proximity to the anchor point all affect the type of workout you create.
expect to ache in places you didn’t know had muscles
For this reason, it is not possible to give a simple ‘how to’ guide on battle ropes. There are too many possibilities! To get the most out of this equipment, it is recommended to take an instructive course (online or in-person) or consult a personal trainer.
This is not to say that the ropes are particularly hard to master, however, it is just a matter of there being a lot of different options.
Here’s the muscles that battle ropes work
The short answer is, pretty much all of them. As your body will reflect the next day (expect to ache in places you didn’t know had muscles) battle ropes actually give a substantial full-body workout. Specifically the main muscles you’ll be giving a good going over are:
- Latissimus dorsi – Shoulders
- Gluteus maximus – Your butt!
- Core and ab muscles
- Anterior deltoid (Shoulder flexion)
- All back muscles
- Trapezios (or traps)
- Knee extension
- Upper Thighs
- Best Battle Ropes For Home Gyms
- Benefits Of Doing Cardio In The Morning
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- Home Gym Equipment For Core Strength
Don’t simply have at your ropes either; there’s a number of key exercises you can do with them and they’ll ensure you’re hitting all the possible muscle groups you can. Just take it easy – this is a tough exercise!
Are battle ropes cardio or strength training?
Battle ropes offer a full-body workout, but are they for cardio or strength training? They are actually perfectly suited to both. They offer the setting to get the heart pumping and to burn some serious calories.
Because there are so many varieties of moves it is difficult to put a number on how many can be burned in a session, but the effects of this workout would be comparable to a heavy spin or HIIT class.
This makes battle ropes ideal for anyone who wants to burn fat.
Why battle ropes are so effective
What sets battle ropes apart from other forms of cardio is that the resistance of the ropes means they are also an effective means of strength training.
Muscle is important for a number of reasons including bones health, mobility and creating a toned and attractive physique. It also supports weight loss goals because muscle mass uses more energy to maintain than fat, resulting in a higher metabolic rate when at rest.
How to choose a battle rope
Battle ropes are a formidable piece of equipment, but this does not mean that you cannot use them at home. While some moves require a wide range of motion, many can be safely performed in a tighter space.
There are 3 main factors to consider when buying a rope:
#1 – thickness
– The ropes come in thicknesses of 1.5, 2 and 2.5 inches. We recommend the 1.5 inch one unless you are already experienced in using battle ropes or completely jacked. Even then, if you are planning to perform cardio exercises or work on endurance strength training, the 1.5 inch rope will be the better option.
#2 – Length
Battle ropes are measured in feet, however, the anchor point will be at the midpoint so the length of the ropes when in use is half of the total length.
For example, a 40-foot rope would need 20 feet of training space. The length of the rope does not affect the physical benefits of the workout, but a longer rope does make for a more comfortable and fluid wave motion. If you have room, we recommend the 50- or 40-feet ropes.
The amount of slack in the rope increases the resistance. Once you have mastered using the ropes from one point, you can take a few steps back to challenge yourself. This means that battle ropes have growing room that allows for a different workout using the same equipment – which is ideal for a home gym where space is limited.
#3 – material
Battle ropes are generally made from manila or poly dacron(a blend of dacron and polypropylene). Manila ropes look great but they have a tendency to shed little fibres every time they are used. If you are training inside, this means you will have to sweep up after every workout, which can be a pain.
Poly dacron ropes do not have this issue. They can feel a bit tight and rigid when they are new but they will loosen after a few sessions.
Final thoughts: are battle ropes good for a home gym?
Overall, battle ropes offer a comprehensive workout that can grow alongside your progress. They also represent a much cheaper option for full-body training, as compared to buying multiple machines.
References & Further Reading
- Youtube – Battle Ropes: Mechanical Physics
- Fit Institute – The Science Of Battling Rope Training
- John Cissik – Battle/Heavy Ropes: Practice And Research
- Youtube – Two handed heavy rope slams for conditioning and warm ups
- Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research – Effects of Battle Rope Exercise on Performance, Blood Lactate Levels, Perceived Exertion, and Muscle Soreness