Ever walked into your local gym, stood in front of the battle ropes, picked them up for a measly ten seconds... then dropped them like a hot potato because, err, you have no idea how to use them? Same – but fear not! There are actually so many different ways to use battle ropes to keep your workout fun and challenging. In fact, you could even make up an entire battle ropes workout routine that covers off the whole body, whilst remaining surprisingly low impact.
Whilst many think the ropes are solely for thrashing up and down in a straight line, creating a wave-like pattern (or at least I did, after seeing the Kardashians do that during their fitness sessions), you can also mix it up with twists, planks and beyond, says Rhian Cowburn, a battle ropes record holder and the co-founder of Strong + Bendy, a London-based fitness studio that offers popular classes dedicated entirely to battle ropes (amongst others).
"The ropes are tough, so the beauty of them is you really don't need to be on them for a long period of time to get an effective workout done - just 30 minutes will do it," Rhian explains, adding that ropes are great for everything from toning arms to building up strong glutes, quads and core strength, as well as boosting cardio health.
Ready for more good news? If you're on the shorter end of the scale, you've already got a natural advantage, she says, "It's actually easier to whip battle ropes if you're shorter, because you're closer to the ground and not lifting as much weight against gravity."
Here are seven simple moves to try next time you're in the gym, plus our recommendations of battle ropes to buy for home use (they're not too pricey and can be easily stored away when you're not using them - bonus!):
Battle ropes workout routine
Do the below moves for 45 seconds with 15 seconds rest in between (twice through) for a brilliant 15-minute brilliant battle ropes workout.
"Before you start, the best way to hold a battle rope is with your hand quite far down the handle with your thumb on the rope," advises Rhian. "Always keep your chest open and shoulders back too, along with a slight bend in the knee."
The most well-known battle ropes move is a classic for a reason! With your feet hips distance apart and with a slight bend in the knee, flick your wrists up and down. Remember to keep a bend in the elbow to create a perfect wave all the way to the anchor point (where your ropes are secured to say, the wall, or tied around a tree if you're exercising outdoors).
Here's how your form should look:
"Once you've got the base move down, you can add in squats or lunges at the same time," Rhian advises, for anyone looking to spice things up. And here's how your form should look on that front too:
For this one, you'll need to meet your hands in the middle and slam the rope up and down – both at the same time. "Remember to keep your feet hips distance apart, with a slight bend in the knee," Rhian adds. "And once you've got the base move down, you can add a jump as you raise the ropes in the air, and a deep squat as you land down."
For this one, you'll need to start off seated with a bend in the knee and your feet planted down on the group, advises Rhian, then, making sure there's enough slack in the rope, slam the rope from one side of the body to the other.
Because the ropes are heavy (normally between 7 to 10kg), you can also use them for conditioning. "You don't need to always wave them up and down," Rhian says. "More controlled moves such as straight arm pulses and overhead reaches can be really effective too."
Here's how that should look:
"Take a regular plank position, keeping the hips square," Rhian recommends. "Then, come into a one-handed plank and use your free hand to whip the rope up and down. Switch hands half way through." This will really get your core going.
You can also try picking a song, such as Pharrell's 'Happy' and task yourself to keep thrashing those ropes, whilst dropping into a squat or burpee each time a particular word (such as 'happy') crops up. "I'm Still Standing by Elton John is another good one," Rhian adds. "Or Roxanne by The Police, basically any song that repeats a word or phrase that you can assign a move to." You'll be surprised at how quickly those three minutes will go...
Buy your own battle ropes...
Battle ropes needn't be confined to gym-only workout sessions – there are plenty of sturdy battle ropes you can buy for home use or to take to your local park (just make sure you have a suitable anchor point ready to go beforehand; you can buy one separately that drills into a wall or loops around a suitable post, or you can craft your own by looping the ropes around a tree, or through a kettlebell handle).
When it comes to what to look for when buying a battle rope, Rhian says it's important to remember that the shorter a rope is, the lighter it will be. "If it's a set thickness all the way down, a shorter rope will be lighter as there's less of it." Which is something to think about depending on your fitness levels.
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