Sometimes there’s nothing better than thrashing and slamming things around the gym when you need a good burn. Battle ropes are notorious for firing muscles head to toe while blasting calories and fat — but they’re not for the faint of heart. These 1.5 to 2-inch thick 50-foot ropes generally weigh anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds, and according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, swinging them for just 10-minutes can burn up to 112 calories. It’s no wonder that these no-nonsense tools, which can be found in many commercial and specialty gyms, are a favorite workout among many MMA fighters.
“Battle ropes are one of the most effective, full-body, 15-minute workouts you can do,” says Max Tapper, ACE-CPT, trainer at Chelsea Piers Fitness in New York City. “Technically, your legs are always on, squatting or moving, your core strength is being used to stabilize motions and keep you from wavering, and your arms and shoulders are being worked every time you move the ropes.”
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Isometrics, or a group of exercises that cause your muscles to work against each other or an object — which would be the anchor in the case of battle ropes — require lots of energy. This is because you’re forced to use muscular tension between stabilizing and moving through the eccentric (lowering) and concentric (lifting) phases of each move. Therefore, a mere minute of work with battle ropes might require 30 seconds of rest. “There’s huge muscle recruitment involved,” says Tapper. “Which is the reason why they’re so amazing.”
Don’t believe us? Try it yourself. Get your heart rate higher than you thought possible in a short time while burning fat, too. If you’re up for the challenge, perform this 20-minute battle ropes circuit that Tapper created exclusively for DailyBurn. Aim to make it through each exercise completely before resting for 30 seconds after. Once you finish the entire circuit, rest a full minute, then repeat.
20-Minute Battle Ropes Workout
1. Battle Ropes Figure 8 Slams
Start facing your anchor, holding one battle rope in each hand, feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Put your hands together and move the ropes at the same time to the right, beginning a figure-8 motion, then immediately in the opposite direction to the left to complete it, forcing both ropes slam the ground at the same time in between sides (a). Continue for 30 seconds.
2. Alternating Waves with Jump Slam
Start facing your anchor, holding one battle rope in each hand, feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Lift the right hand and rope up to shoulder level, while simultaneously lowering the left hand and rope down to hip level with force so the ropes moves in opposite directions. Alternate and continue for 5 seconds straight (a). Then, at the same time lift both ropes overhead while simultaneously jumping up, and slam the ropes into the ground as you land (b). Repeat both motions 5 times through.
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3. Battle Rope Jumping Jacks
Holding a battle rope in each hand, facing your anchor, perform jumping jacks for 30 seconds straight (a). Be sure to keep your arms as straight as possible as you raise them overhead and lower them back down.
4. Alternating Waves to Burpee
Start facing your anchor, holding one battle rope in each hand, feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Place a mat or towel on the ground in front of your feet. Lift the right hand and rope up to shoulder level, while simultaneously lowering the left hand and rope down to hip level with force so the ropes moves in opposite directions. Alternate and continue for 5 seconds straight (a). Next, stop the rope waves, and still holding the ropes in each hand, drop down and perform a burpee, using the mat or towel to brace your hands and fingers (b). Repeat both movements 5 times through. Note: This is a more advanced exercise.
5. Russian Twist Slams
Sit on the ground, facing your anchor, knees bent, heels resting on the floor. Keeping the spine neutral, lean slightly back until you feel your abs engaged. Holding both battle ropes with both hands in front of your chest, rotate only your arms and upper body to the right and slam the ropes into the ground (a). Then rotate to the left side and slam the ropes into the ground (b). Continue rotating right to left at a rapid pace for 30 seconds.
6. Side Lunge Slams
Begin facing your anchor with a battle rope in each hand. Lift both hands overhead as you turn your body to the right and lunge forward with the right foot (a). As you’re lunging, slam the ropes down next to your front leg so they hit the ground at the lowest point in your lunge (b). Repeat on the left side, lunging forward with the left leg (c). Alternate for 10 lunges on each side.
7. Side Shuffle With Alternating Waves
Start facing your anchor, holding one battle rope in each hand, feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Begin side shuffling to the right as you lift the right hand and rope up to shoulder level, while simultaneously lowering the left hand and rope down to hip level with force so the ropes moves in opposite directions. Alternate arms quickly as you side shuffle 5 steps to the right (a). Without stopping your arms, change direction and side shuffle to the left for 5 steps (b). Repeat 3 times in each direction.
8. Forward Slams with Quick Steps Back
Start facing your anchor, holding one battle rope in each hand, feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. This is your starting position. Hop forward toward your anchor while simultaneously lifting both arms and ropes overhead, then slamming them down as you land. Perform three hops forward (a). Then, begin alternating right and left arms up and down to make small waves as your quickly small step your way away from the anchor, back to starting position (b). Perform both motions three times through.
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Bonus Battle Ropes Move
Want more? Tack on this exercise at the end of your routine if you’ve got the extra equipment on hand. An alternative to a BOSU ball is a plyo box.
9. Squatting Alternate Waves with a Bosu Ball Jump
Place a BOSU ball directly in front of you. Plant one foot on either side of it and squat down so your thighs are parallel to the floor, one battle rope in each hand. Begin moving your right and left arm up and down in opposite directions creating alternate waves (a). As you continue to move the ropes, jump both feet onto the Bosu ball, landing with feet shoulder-width apart, still in a squat (b). Then jump your feet off, landing where you began with one foot on either side of the BOSU. Keep the alternating waves going throughout the entire move. Perform 5 jumps on and off of the BOSU ball.
Video by Ben Mosca for Life by DailyBurn