BATTLE ROPE TRAINING FOR DYNAMIC FITNESS GAINS
If you're looking for a unique and dynamic way to build muscle and fitness, battle ropes might be the best tool you haven't tried. First popularized in the early 2000’s, battle ropes deliver a potent training stimulus different than barbells, dumbbells, or traditional forms of cardio.
Battle ropes incorporate multi-planar, unilateral, and bilateral movements ranging from beginner to advanced total body combinations. With hundreds of exercises to choose from, battle rope movements work the arms, back, chest, legs, and core as energy is put into the rope to make it undulate.
Further down in this article we’ll discuss battle rope variations offered on the market, overviewing differences in thickness, length, material and traditional versus sleeved battle rope options.
Benefits of Battle Ropes
Battle ropes offer a lot of benefits. Here are a few notables:
- Low impact (easy on the joints)
- Great for high-intensity interval training
- Cardiovascular builder
- Core strengthener
- Increases grip strength
- Hundreds of exercise variations
- Upper body-focused, lower body sparing
- Condition each side of the body individually
- Train balance, coordination, and stability
- Unique movements provide unique benefits
- Portable, inexpensive, no learning curve
- It's fun!
Battle ropes deliver a unique, low-impact high, intensity training experience. Even at higher intensities, the effort is gentle on the joints, yet challenging enough to drive improvements in muscular strength. Depending on which exercise you're using, battle ropes can also give the lower body a break from exertion. The arms and torso perform the bulk of the work during exercises like waves, slams, and pulls. Here's a quick overview of the Sleeved Battle Rope and how to get started:
One major appeal to battle rope training is the uniqueness of the exercises and the sheer variety of exercises that can be used to condition and build strength. The exercises incorporate motions not found anywhere else in the gym. battle ropes can condition each side of the body individually, which can serve to iron out imbalances and asymmetries. Check out this video that shows you how to use a single arm variation and REALLY work one side at a time:
The portability of battle ropes makes them fantastic for training indoors or outdoors. Anywhere you can anchor the rope, you can train. Moving workouts outside can boost energy with the change of scenery.
Battle Rope Set Up and Exercises
Anchoring the rope is key to a hassle-free and enjoyable workout. Best practice is to make sure the rope is anchored to an immovable object with limited movement and toggle. Trees, the uprights of a squat rack, heavy kettlebells, or a wall-mounted half-loop will work great.
Once the rope is anchored, you're ready to start exercising. Battle rope training has virtually no learning curve, so you can immediately dive into an effective workout. Here are a few fundamental exercises to begin with:
- Alternating Waves
- 2-Arm Wave
- Side-to-Side Waves
- Hand-Over-Hand Pulling
How-to: Power Slams
How-to: Battle Rope Grapplers
Types of Battle Ropes
Thickness and length
Most battle ropes are made 1.5 inches thick, which fits nicely in most people's hands and offers an excellent weight to create momentum and challenge the muscles and cardiovascular system. 1.5 inches is the standard thickness recommended for most people. Thicker ropes, such as a 2-inch rope, are 33% heavier and can be difficult to grip.
The length of the rope will depend on the size of your training space. When anchored, a battle rope will require a space half the size of the total length of the rope. If you have a 50-foot rope, you’ll need roughly 25 feet between you and the anchor to perform the exercises. While 50 feet might be the standard for larger gyms, many manufacturers have begun offering shorter-length ropes for individuals who train at home in smaller spaces. Shorter ropes are a nice feature when space is limited.
Manila ropes are an old-fashioned type of rope made from natural fiber and do a nice job absorbing moisture from sweaty palms. Manila ropes have a rough texture, making them great for grip. The biggest problem with manila ropes is the shedding. Manila ropes will shed fibers from the first repetition and continue to shed for the remainder of the rope's life. The mess created is a turn-off for a lot of people.
Poly Dacron ropes tend to resist degradation from moisture and abrasions that would otherwise impact the durability. Poly Dacron ropes are generally lighter than manila, but this is a non-factor for conditioning workouts where extended work-sets are key. If you prefer a heavier rope to challenge the muscles, transitioning to a 2-inch option will work.
A good poly Dacron rope will have stiffness when it arrives, so don’t be alarmed. This is normal. After a few good workouts, the rope will loosen up! Poly Dacron ropes do not shed like manila ropes.
From a grip standpoint, poly Dacron tends to be more slippery, but most poly dacron battle ropes will have a thermoplastic material coating that is shrunk tightly around the ends of the rope. This material adds a nice texture to enhance grip while you train.
Traditional vs. Sleeved
First-generation battle ropes were made without sleeves, which isn’t a bad thing, but the addition of sleeves that fit snugly around the rope tend to increase the durability of the rope significantly. Battle rope training is aggressive, and the wear and tear can be a concern. There are a lot of repetitions performed in a short amount of time. Exercises such as hand-over-hand pulling involve a lot of friction as the rope snakes its way around an immovable object such as a pole or squat rack upright.
While both ropes will provide a similar training stimulus, a battle rope with a protective sleeve will protect your investment and increase your lifespan.
Check out Epic Fitness Battle Ropes in both traditional 3-strand twist, and a full sleeved version:
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