The battle rope is one of the most fun ways to change up your circuit routine. It makes for a perfect station in a larger routine since you can choose a different exercise for each pass through the round, or you can build an entire circuit exercise on just the battle ropes. There are many great exercises to choose from, so there’s something for everybody.
What Are Battle Ropes?
Battle ropes, also known as heavy ropes, are one of the simplest pieces of workout gear around. To set up a battle rope station all you need is a large rope and something to anchor it around. Anchors can be anything from a fixed pole or ring on the wall to an improvised anchor like laying a heavy weight down atop the rope or wrapping it around the leg of a heavy piece of workout equipment like a bench.
How Do Battle Ropes Work?
Most battle rope exercises involve putting the rope around your anchor such that there are two ends lying next to each other. The ends are grabbed, either one in each hand or together, and swung or pulled in order to create resistance. As you move the ends of the rope, its length generates a lot of momentum which you have to work to control.
Why Should Your Train With Battle Ropes?
If you’ve never used battle ropes before you should strongly consider adding them to your routine. There are many excellent benefits to working out with battle ropes.
They’re Easy to Use
The learning curve for battle ropes is low, so they’re great for beginners while also providing a challenging workout for those who are more advanced. If you are running a circuit class this is great because it allows each student to use the same equipment at their own pace.
You’ll Burn Fat
Many of the best battle rope exercises utilize high rates of motion over short intervals. This is an effective way to burn calories quickly to help you shed pounds and trim down.
You’ll Build Muscle
A single rope may not seem like the most effective muscle building tool around, but once you start using your battle rope you’ll understand how great they are for building muscle. The thicker the rope you use is the more effective it will be for muscle building, however even a thinner rope which is better suited for cardio work will engage your muscles and helping to build and tone them.
Work Your Whole Body
Unlike exercises on machines where much of the stabilization is provided for you, with battle ropes there is just you and the ropes. That means your supporting muscles are also engaged keeping things stabilized for muscle building which is both aesthetically and practically effective.
You Can Use Them Anywhere
Battle ropes are also a portable workout opportunity. All you need is somewhere to anchor them and you’re ready to go, making it easy to get a workout in even when you’re away from the gym.
It’s Easy to Change Intensity
One reason that many circuit classes like battle ropes is their adaptability. All that’s needed to change the exertion is to alter the pace of your workout. There are also some simple modifications below to make your workout even more challenging.
They Won’t Empty Your Wallet
Adding battle ropes to your repertoire is an affordable way to greatly increase your workout options. They let you get in a full body exercise for no more than the cost of a single rope.
Low Impact Exercise is Great for Joints
Fast paced battle ropes exercises will have you breathing in hard in no time at all. They’re highly effective ways to work on your cardiovascular health without having to turn to activities which can be harder on your joints, like street running.
6 Ways to Modify the Difficulty of Your Battle Rope Exercises
One of the great things about using battle ropes is the ability to modify your workouts without needing additional weights or equipment. If you’re looking to tweak your next battle ropes circuit, trying adding one or more modifications to the exercises you perform.
While most squat exercises call for a small, relaxed squatting position, you can change the depth of your squat to make things harder. By taking a deeper seat you engage your legs more and increase the need to focus on your balance throughout the workout.
Lunges and Reverse Lunges
Moving forward and backwards with lunges not only lets you add more work for your legs with the exercises you are performing, but also changes the length of the ropes you are working with which alters the way you manipulate them. For wave-like exercises a static lunge is a great choice, while slamming exercises are easy to modify by using jumping lunges.
Jumps and Calf Presses
When performing slam exercises adding jumps with each slam makes your movement even more explosive. For a slightly easier modification which still helps you get more from each rep, extend up onto the balls of your feet with each slam to engage your calf muscles.
Wave exercises are all about finding a rhythm, so one way to keep your muscles guessing is to make that rhythm harder to find by moving side to side. Your anchor will play a part in how far in either direction you can begin to rotate without the rope getting jammed up.
The majority of rope exercises have a particular grip which will feel most comfortable, with that usually meaning taking hold of the rope so the loose ends hang past your pinkies. When you reverse your comfortable grip it changes the angle of your motions and the way the exercise affects your muscles.
The 39 Best Battle Ropes Exercises for Your Next Circuit
Battle Rope Wave Exercises
Few exercises are as pleasing to watch then a properly executed wave on a battle rope. The bouncing ropes are more than just a hypnotic sight to behold, however, they’re also an outstanding exercise that will have you breathing hard and feeling their effects in short order.
Two Arm Wave
Squat down slightly while holding one end of the rope in each hand in front of your waist. Keeping your hands next to each other raise the two ends up about a foot then down lower than your waistline. Continue raising the ends and whipping them down to make a series of waves.
Single Arm Alternating Waves
Hold one end of the rope in each hand at waist height while squatting slightly. Raise your right hand and lower your left hand so there is one to two feet of height difference between them. Rapidly move both hands up and down, alternating so one is always on the way up while the other is on the way down, to create alternating waves down the two lengths of rope.
This is a more advanced version of single arm alternating waves which engages your core as well. Begin as if performing standard single arm alternating waves until you have created a nice rhythm, then turn your upper body toward the left. When you have gone about 45-degrees reverse the rotation to go an equal distance to yoru right. Continue turning back and forth until the end of the round.
Hold the rope with one end in each hand while squatting and your hands together. Move both hands to the outside until they are wider than your shoulders, then bring them both together again in front of you. When done correctly you will create horizontal waves in each end of the rope which spread away from each other then clap back together as they move down the rope.
Two Arm Sideways Waves
Stand with the two ends held together in front of your waist. For added stability you can widen the stance of your squat slightly. Move the rope ends to your left then swing them back to the right, repeating the side to side motion throughout the circuit round. While this exercise may seem easy at first, as you pick up speed it requires a great deal of stabilization from your core and leg muscles.
Snakes on the Ground
Get into a deep squat, keeping your back straight and slightly angled upwards. Hold the ends of the rope just in front of your feet. Move your hands apart, keeping them just a couple inches off the ground, then back together. As with clappers you should be seeing horizontal waves which separate then crash back together.
Just like snakes on the ground, anacondas are a low adaptation of a previous move. Hold the ropes just in front of your feet while in a low squat, then move them side to side while keeping your hands together to create a single, snake-like horizontal wave pattern along the ground.
In and Out Alternating Waves
This final variation of alternating waves uses movement to add variety to the exercise. Start with standard alternating waves then slowly walk forward with small steps once you have found a rhythm. The length of your ropes will determine how far you can walk before losing too much tension, so experiment with your rope and begin walking back to the starting position when you feel like you are in danger of losing the waves.
Battle Rope Slam Exercises
While waves are a great way to get your pulse rate up, if you really want to push things then some slams are the perfect addition to your circuit. With slams you engage more of your body with each rep, relying on more exhausting but slower movements in place of faster, less-taxing options.
Alternating Single Arm Slams
Stand with one end of the rope in each hand, hanging your arms straight down from your shoulders. Raise the left end over your head as you straighten your legs up out of your squat, then squat back down quickly while also slamming your left hand down. Repeat with your right arm to complete one rep.
Two Arm Slams
Hole one end of the rope in each hand with your arms hanging down and a gentle squat. Raise both arms up over your head at the same time as you stand up, then slam them down while you drop into a deep squat. With two handed slams it is easier to get low so try to slam down to just a few inches above the ground for full range of motion.
Get set as if you are going to perform two armed slams then rotate your upper body to the left so that both hands are outside of your left hip. Raise both arms straight up as you stand so that you have both arms raised up to the left of your body. As you squat down, slam the ropes down and to the right so that they finish on your right. Stand straight up while raising the ropes on your right side now, then slam them down and to the left to complete the hourglass shape.
Hold the ends of the rope with your arms hanging relaxed then turn to your left. Rotate your hips and upper body quickly to your right, pulling the two ends of the rope with you as you go. Continue rotating and pulling to the left then the right until the round is over.
Side to Side Slams
Take a deep squat and hold the ends of the rope so that they are just above the ground and to the left of your feet. Extend up out of the squat and raise the ropes overhead, then squat down and slam them on the right of your feet. The ends should travel through an arc from one side to the other for each rep.
Squat so that you are facing perpendicular to the ropes and grab both ends with each hand. Holding the ropes below waist height, straighten out of your stance slightly and raise the ropes up over your head. Slam them back down to the starting to position to reset. The move is named after the legendary professional wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, who used to perform a similar motion on the wrestling ropes.
180-Degree Jumping Slams
Grab one end of the rope in each hand then turn your whole body so you are perpendicular to the rope. Squat down and place both hand low to the ground in front of your feet. Jump up and turn around 180-degrees in the air, then slam the ropes down so you are now in the same position but facing in the other direction.
Battle Rope Circle Exercises
Arm circles are a simple but effective exercise, and adding in a set of battle ropes only makes them even better. It won’t be long before your arms and shoulders are feeling the effects of swinging the heavy rope ends around.
Hold the two ends of the rope together with your arms hanging down and slightly bent. Keeping your hands as close together as possible, swing your arms around in a large circle. For some added work, change the direction of your circle at designated intervals during the round.
Take one end of the rope in each hand while in a stable squatted stance and your arms hanging down from your shoulders. Curl your right arm so that the rope in that hand is higher than the other rope, then begin spinning each rope in a small circle so that one is going down as the other goes up.
Stand as if you were performing alternating circles but do not curl one arm. Perform circles with each hand so that the ropes are going up as they are outside of your body and going down as they come together in front of you.
Reversing the direction of your circles changes the way your muscles are engaged. With outside circles bring the ropes up when they are in front of you and down when they are on the outside of your body. You can increase the difficulty by switching between inside and outside circles at set intervals during the round.
In a slight squat grab the ends of the rope so that your hands are together and hanging with a slight bend. Bring the rope down and to the right then create a small circle to reset the position before doing the same on the left. You will be drawing an infinite symbol, or a sideways 8, with each repetition. This is a great exercise for engaging your back and core on the battle ropes.
Battle Rope Jumping Jack Exercises
You may think of jumping jacks as a light calisthenic exercise, but once you add in some battle ropes the difficulty increases quickly. The added weight of the rope makes it a bit harder to raise your hand, while the momentum of the waves you make force you to engage additional muscles stabilizing with each jump.
Stand with your feet together and one end of the rope in each hand, held relaxed at your side. Jump and spread your legs out to shoulder width apart while also swinging both arms out to the side in an arc until they are over your head. Take another small jump and reset the position.
Take one end of the rope in each hand and stagger your stance so that your left foot is forward. Hold your left arm up over your head and your right arm relaxed at your side. Jump and scissor your legs so that your right is now forward and your left back, while also raising your right arm and lowering your left, to reverse your original stance. Jump again to reset back to your starting form, and repeat for the length of the interval.
Stand with your feet together and your arms straight in front of you, holding one end of the rope in each hand. Jump up and spread your legs like a jumping jack while bringing your arms straight out to each side. Hop again and reset your hands and feet to perform a clapper.
This is the hardest of the jumping jack moves and can take some practice to keep the ropes from tangling. Stand with your feet crossed so that your left leg is in front of your right, and your left arm is over your right arm. Jump and spread your arms and legs as if doing a clap jack, then jump again and cross your arms and legs again. You can switch which foot is behind each time, but it’s easier to keep the rope moving if you always leave the same hand on top each time you cross.
Battle Rope Plank Exercises
The plank is one of the most deceptive exercises there is. From the outside it looks so easy, but anyone who has gone through a series of plank exercises know that the burn is real. Whether you’re adding a plank station to a diverse workout or are performing a plank circuit and want a station with a little extra pop, adding ropes to your plank is a great way to work on your core.
Plank One Arm Waves
Support your body weight on your hands and feet, keeping your arms and body straight to take the plank position. Grab one end of the rope with your right hand while keeping your left arm straight. Raise your right hand off the ground and bounce the end of the rope up and down to create waves. Repeat with your left arm for the second half of the interval. For an easier rep, support your weight with your elbow and forearm instead of your hand.
Side Plank One Arm Waves
Take the side plank position by laying on your left side, then raising your body off the ground using your left elbow and forearm. Keep your body straight so that it forms an angle with the floor. Grab the rope with your right arm and bounce it up and down to produce waves. To increase the difficulty, perform the side plank on your hand instead of your forearm.
Jumping Push Ups
Take a plank position over the ends of the ropes with one end positioned under each hand. Lower your chest to the ground while keeping your body straight to lower into the bottom of a push up. Explode back up off the ground hard enough to raise your hands off the ground and perform one wave of the ropes before landing. This move is best performed on a soft surface or while wearing padded, open finger gloves for added protection to your hands.
Plank Rope Pulls
Tie one end of the rope to a weight or secure it to a weight sled. Get into plank position so that your head is pointed toward the anchor and your shoulders align over the end of the rope. Grab the rope with your right hand and pull the rope down toward your feet to drag the weight toward you. Repeat until it reaches you, then straighten the rope back in the other direction and repeat the process with your left hand.
Side Plank Pulls
Using a tied weight or weight sled lie on your left side then raise off the ground onto either your left hand or left forearm at the end of the rope. Keep your body straight. Grab the end with your right hand and pull on it to drag the weight toward you until you have pulled it over to you. Straighten out the rope again and repeat with your right arm supporting you and your left pulling on the rope.
Battle Rope Muscle Building Exercises
Although battle ropes are great for building your cardiovascular system, that doesn’t mean they won’t also help you to build and tone your muscles as well. Any exercise where you’re moving the heavy ropes around will help with muscle definition, but if you want to really focus on strength building these moves have an increased focus on increasing your muscle capacity.
Squat to Press
Stand facing the anchor and grab one end of the rope in each hand so that the ends are hanging out on the thumb side of your hands. Curl your arms so that your hands are at shoulder height. Perform a deep squat, then extend the ends of the rope straight overhead when at the top of the squat.
Lunges With Overhead Rope
Stand at the anchor point of your rope facing away from it, and grab one end of the rope in each hand. Extend both arms straight overhead then step forward with your right leg into a walking lunge. Bring your left leg forward for your next lunge, continuing further from the anchor with each step. The more steps you take the more rope is being lifted off the ground, so the difficulty increases with each lunge.
Squat Thrust Slams
Stand holding one end of rope in each hand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands on the ground in front of your feet, knuckles down. Hop your feet back into a plank position then hop again, back into the low squat. Stand up and perform a slam, then immediately proceed into your next thruster by hopping your feet back.
Similar to a squat thrust but with some small tweaks, a rope burpee is an excellent full body workout. When you have hopped back into plank position perform a push up before returning to your low squat. Finish the rep off by performing a jumping slam.
Using a weighted sled or secured weight, sit at the other end of the rope with the end between your legs. Lean forward and grab onto the rope with both hands and your arms extended. Pull your arms in to your chest while driving your upper body backwards to pull the weight toward you, continuing until the weight has reached you.
Seated One Arm Pulls
Connect one end of the rope to a weight or weighted sled then sit down next to the other end of the rope so that the end is on your right and you are facing the weight. Grab the end with your right hand and drag the weight toward you with explosive pulls until it reaches you, then repeat for your left arm.
Seated Two Arm Pulls
Sit at the opposite end of your rope than your weight or sled so that the rope ends between your spread or criss-crossed legs. Grab the end of the rope in both hands then begin pulling the weight toward you hand over hand. Because you are using shorter, quicker movement than single arm pulls and rows, this works your muscles differently.
Battle Rope Ab Exercises
Your battle ropes can even be used to help add a little bit of extra shred to your next ab routine. The ropes add additional weight to movement based exercises, and make ab-focused balancing exercises even more challenging than usual.
Sit facing the anchor with one end of the rope on either side of your legs. Grab one end in each hand, then raise your legs off the ground so that you are balancing. Begin performing alternating waves with the rope. The added difficulty of handling the waves will really help to blast your core.
Sit as if performing seated waves then spread your hands out to the side one foot in each direction. Perform circles in toward your legs with each end of the rope while keeping your feet up and your body balanced.
Place both ends of the rope on your left while sitting facing the anchor. Rotate your upper body to the left and grab one end in each hand. Raise the ends up over your legs and slam them down on your right. Lift them back up and across to slam down on the left, alternating sides throughout the round.