Once upon a time, gyms were pretty bog standard spaces filled with weights machines and cardio equipment. Pretty uninspiring stuff. These days, that’s no longer the case.
Most gyms are bursting with exciting, and sometimes intimidating, equipment that can have you quaking with either excitement or fear. Not least among these, are the battle ropes.
These thick black cables attached to an anchor point have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Why? Because they help build strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
A 2015 University of Minnesota study found that battle ropes training resulted in high heart rates and indicated vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Total energy expenditure was also significant.
Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that exercises with battle ropes were more metabolically demanding than traditional resistance exercises with moderately heavy loads.
Want to be able to do more push-ups? Hit the ropes. The increased endurance you develop will help you get those numbers up. A 2013 University of Windsor, Canada study found that a month-long three times per week battle ropes program resulted in a 36.4% improvement in the number of push-ups female participants could complete, and 11.1% improvement in male participants.
The same study also saw a 10.1% improvement in the number of sit-ups female participants could do.
Are you a runner? You’ll also benefit from a ropes session. How? By developing your ability to sustain effort over time.
And if you think thrashing a rope around might get boring (really?!), think again. You can use a variety of different techniques with these bad boys. There are enough different ways to use these fearsome ropes to fill an entire workout and train your whole body.
Speed and strength
The velocity movements involved in battling rope training require constant effort, unlike many other methods of training. By repeatedly creating explosive forces, stopping them, then creating the force again in another direction, you’re working seriously hard in a number of ways.
The end result? By sustaining the speed and strength required for the movements, you develop your capacity for work and your endurance. It’s also a mental challenge – can you stick with it and keep those ropes moving?
By resisting the pull of the ropes towards the anchor point, you’re actually working all of your core stabiliser muscles.
You can mix things up by changing the angle between you and the anchor point, thereby working different muscles harder.
Or for an extra core challenge, drop down into a plank position and thrash that rope.
For all fitness levels
Newcomers to the gym and advanced athletes can all benefit from battle rope training. Even children can reap the benefits.
Simply start off with a simple exercise like a single rope slam and then progress to keep on challenging yourself.
Minimal risk of injury
If you perfect your form and technique when tackling the ropes, there is minimal risk of injury.
Why? Because you can’t put any more force of the ropes than your body allows meaning you always remain in control.
That’s not necessarily the case with loaded exercises that can put excess pressure on muscles and joints if you don’t retain the upper hand.
And if you already have an injury…
The majority of injuries we see in the gym generally involve shoulders and knees. The safe nature of ropes training makes them an ideal way to strengthen the shoulders – of course if proper form an technique is observed.
And as far as the lower body is concerned, little movement is required down there making it a safe way for those with knee issues to work on their cardiovascular fitness. They can even be used sitting down.
Reaching those goals
In turn, movement patterns from other activities can be incorporated into battle rope workouts.
If you swim, you can use the ropes to simulate a front crawl or a breaststroke. If you box, you can practice punching holding the ropes.
How to use them…
1. Keep waves small to mid-sized to really improve your work capacity.
2. Don’t pause between waves – constant movement is the key here.
3. Try not to tense up – relax your arms and think of them as an extension of the ropes.
4. Set yourself up properly – you should be grounded and aware of your feet, core and shoulders.
5. Take the tension out of the upper traps, the neck and any muscles that you aren’t using during the exercise.
Have you incorporated the battle ropes into your fitness routine?