Chances are, jump ropes have been in your life since the PB&J-and-juice-box days of your childhood. So it’s time to add a new, badass kind of rope to your fitness routine: battle ropes. You’ll usually find them 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.
As the name implies, these supersized ropes are heavy, which adds resistance (i.e. a major challenge) to work your muscles like never before. The benefits: You strengthen your abs, arms, and shoulders, engage your legs, and get a killer conditioning workout all in one go. Better yet, waving, slamming, and whipping these hefty ropes doesn’t strain your body the way high-impact activities do—but you still reap serious fitness benefits. In fact, research suggests using battle ropes for just 10 minutes can be considered a vigorous workout Metabolic cost of rope training. Fountaine, C.J., Schmidt, B.J. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2013 Jul 26. . Plus, high-intensity interval training with battle ropes may improve both aerobic and anaerobic capacity after just four weeks. In other words, you'll be owning both strength and endurance workouts. To top it off, battle rope training torches about 10 calories per minute—more than both burpees and squats! So we're not super surprised that top fitness experts, like Alonzo Wilson, founder and director of training at Tone House in New York City, are totally roped in to this workout.
“They work every muscle group simultaneously and allow freedom of movement,” Wilson says. Another bonus? They can also be catered to your fitness level—whether you’re a beginner or a pro athlete, he adds.
Ready to slam your way into top shape? Add these 20 kick-butt battle rope exercises (some are Wilson’s very own go-to moves) to your fitness routine!
1. Double Wave
Wave your way to a fitter form and master the basics of the battle ropes with this exercise. To start, stand facing the anchor with feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp one end of the rope in each hand so that your palms face each other. Bend knees slightly, brace your core, and move both arms up and down rapidly, creating waves in the rope.
Talk about makin’ waves! Stand facing the anchor point with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grab one end of the rope in each hand so that your palms face in. Raise one arm to shoulder level and then quickly lower back to start, raising the other arm to shoulder level as you do so. Continue alternating as rapidly as possible without losing form.
While the movement for this one is exactly the same as the alternating wave listed above, this version brings your lower body into the equation. Instead of standing, you’ll lower down into a squat, keep your core engaged, and then move your arms as you do with the alternating wave.
Put your shoulders to work! Though this move looks simple, it’ll yield serious shoulder strength, which is ideal for boxers and swimmers in particular. 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.
This snake-y move is a killer shoulder workout. Stand facing the anchor and position your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, holding the ropes by your sides. Lower into a squat, pulling your arms wide and keeping them parallel to the floor. Without crossing hands, move your arms in toward one another and then back out—your goal is to make the ropes look like two snakes on the floor.
No need to limit your shoulder presses to barbells and dumbbells—you can totally use battle ropes too! Hold the ropes on your shoulders (make sure there’s tension on the ropes). Press the ropes upward as you straighten arms overhead. Bring them back down to the start position.
7. Power Slam
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that anything with the word “power” in it is bound to be one tough exercise—and this one’s no exception. To start, stand with feet hip-width apart and grasp the ends of the rope in each hand. Bring both arms up overhead, and then forcefully slam the ropes down into the ground, lowering into a high squat as you do. Straighten up to return to standing and repeat.
8. Side Slam
Slam your way to a fitter physique (and obliques). Face the anchor, feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Grab the ends of the rope with palms facing in. Brace your core and hold the rope on the left side of your body. Raise your arms up overhead and forcefully slam the ropes down to the right of your body. Continue alternating sides.
A variation on the power slam listed above, you’ll be executing the exact same movement, but instead of raising and slamming both hands at the same time, you’ll restrict the movement to one arm. Do one whole set of the move with one arm and then another set with the other arm.
10. Plyo Knee-Tuck Slams
Assume the position—the push-up position, that is. With one end of the rope in each hand and palms facing in, jump both feet into the air and draw your knees in toward your chest (this is the knee tuck—which looks similar to a plank tuck jump, except you won’t ever land with your knees tucked in). Immediately shoot legs back out into push-up position, and then explosively jump to your feet (a little wider than hip-width apart) with the ropes in hand. Raise arms overhead as you extend your body until you’re on your toes. Lower down into a squat, slamming the rope down to the ground as you do. Return to the push-up position.
11. Plyo Knee-Tuck Push-Up Slams
This combo move not only builds total-body strength, but it also works on explosive power, Wilson says. Plus, it adds an extra challenge to plyo knee-tuck slams. Begin in a push-up position, with one end of the rope in each hand. Jump knees in toward your chest and then immediately shoot legs back into push-up position. Lower your body into a push-up, and then explosively spring up to standing, keeping hold of the ropes. Raise arms overhead as you extend your body until you’re on your toes. Lower down into a squat as you slam the rope down to the ground. Place hands on the floor and return to a push-up position. That’s one rep—phew!
12. Alternating Wave Lunge Jump
Now that you’ve mastered lunging and waving, up the ante even more. Begin with the alternating wave. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, and then jump up into the air, switching legs so that you land with your left leg extended back. Continue alternating as smoothly as possible and without losing form—you’re going to want to keep your head and chest up throughout this move too.
Paired together, squats and alternating waves make for one total-body toner—it even targets your core. Perform low alternating waves, and once your waves are nice and steady, jump up into the air, landing in a squat. Repeat, and remember to keep the wave going throughout the entire movement.
14. Plyo Knee Tuck Into Push-Up to Alternating Wave Switch Game
The longer the name, the tougher the exercise—and brace yourself: This one’s a doozy. Begin in push-up position, with one end of the rope in each hand. Perform a knee tuck, a push-up, explode up to stand, and power through alternating waves for 10 seconds. Return to the starting push-up position. Aaaand pat yourself on the back.
15. 180-Degree Jumps
Stand so that the left side of your body is facing the anchor, and position the ropes in front of you. Grab the ends of the ropes and hold them together with both hands in front of your right hip, palms facing each other. Lower into a squat and jump up, turning toward the anchor and rotating your body 180 degrees while you swing the rope overhead. Land softly in a squat, positioning the ropes in front of your left hip. Repeat on the other side, landing back in the starting position.
16. Star Jumps
Star jumps, as their name suggests, are outta this world. But make no mistake: This move will jack up your heart rate and make you feel the burn, especially when battle ropes are involved. To start, stand in a narrow squat and grab one end of the rope in each hand. Jump up, kicking your legs out to the sides and swinging arms (and the ropes) out to the sides and over your head. Land softly in a squat position, with hands in front of your hips.
Waves, and lunges, and battle ropes, oh my! “This exercise is great for not only your upper body, but your lower body as well, targeting your quadriceps, forearms, biceps, back, and abs,” Wilson says.
Begin with the alternating wave exercise (see No. 2 for a reminder). Once you get a good wave going, step your right leg back into a lunge. Return to standing and then repeat on the other side, stepping your left leg back into a lunge. Continue alternating legs as you make waves with your arms (and the ropes), keeping your head and chest up throughout the entire exercise.
18. Up-Downs Into Snakes Switch Game
Begin in a standing position and grab the rope in each hand, holding the ends by your sides. Drop your body to the floor and catch yourself with your hands (place them in a push-up position on the floor beneath you as you land), letting your chest touch the ground—similar to this, except you won’t do the shuffle movement. Explode back up to stand, and then lower your body into a squat. Pull arms wide and keep them parallel to the floor. Without allowing your hands to cross, move arms in toward one another and then back out as quickly as you can—it’s the snake-y movement again! Return to stand.
19. Squat to Overhead Press
How do you make a shoulder press even better? Add a squat to the mix! Position your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and hold the ropes on your shoulders (you’ll want to make sure there’s tension in the ropes like you did with the regular shoulder press). Lower down into the perfect squat while simultaneously pressing the ropes overhead. Return to stand.
Get ready to get moving—even more, that is. Begin by doing the good ol’ alternating waves. Quickly shuffle to one side, whipping the rope and shuffling at about the same tempo. When you’re ready to shuffle back, lower your body into a squat and shuffle in the opposite direction.
Get your battle ropes and get waving, slamming, and whipping!
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