Gabe Rangel, strength and conditioning coach at Athletic Gaines in Los Angeles, shares some expert insight on getting started with battle ropes.
What are battle ropes?
Battle ropes are a fun and unconventional addition to many gyms across the county and an effective way to tone your whole body. “Although sometimes difficult and unforgiving, they are a tool that allows for multiple uses throughout the workout and can really add much-needed variety to a dull, repetitive workout plan, as well as being a great way to burn calories,” explains Rangel.
A workout with battle ropes can be done in any direction, says Rangel, whether you’re doing alternating waves, criss-cross or side-to-side movements. “These 25-pound ropes work out your back, legs, arms and core.” Rangel uses battle ropes primarily for full-body conditioning, but notes that they are also good for core stability and can be used for shoulder work like external rotation. “A lot of shoulder mobility can be gained from using battle ropes as well,” he says. He also likes using battle ropes for pure power, with moves such as slams (outlined below) in lieu of working with medicine balls.
If you’ve never seen them, battle ropes are thick, heavy ropes that can vary in length. You can move the ropes at virtually any angle to engage your entire body in an intense, toning and calorie-busting workout.
To use the ropes, place them around a heavy beam or pole and pull them straight toward you. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, pick up the end of each rope. Bend your knees slightly and get started. "You can create rippling waves, criss-crosses or go side to side with them," says Rangel. "Do this for 20 seconds, rest for 30 seconds and then repeat those movements for three sets."
Working out with battle ropes
We asked Rangel to share a few more specific moves you can try, should you come across battle ropes at your gym. Be sure to ask a fitness pro to get you started, though, just to ensure you’re doing the moves correctly.
Grabbing the ropes with a closed grip, get into a quarter-squat position with your arms at rest. With a rope in each hand, raise your arms, forcibly flex and extend your shoulders, and slam the rope as you squat. After you slam, extend at the hip and stand up, returning to the starting position.
Quarter-squat with alternating waves
Starting in a quarter-squat, flex and extend your shoulders while holding onto the ropes and moving your hands up and down as quickly as possible.
Quarter-squat with alternating waves and reverse lunge
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and utilizing the alternating waves technique (above), drop one foot back and perform a reverse lunge while maintaining alternating wave movements with the rope. Return to the starting position and perform the same task, switching legs.
Starting with a reverse grip on the rope, ensure there is enough slack in the rope (you can create more by walking toward the anchored point). Next, simply do a jumping jack while holding the rope. Do as many as you can, building up to more repetitions each workout.
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Photo credits: Athletic Gaines