Learn The Ropes With The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Battle Ropes
Sculpt a stronger, leaner, more athletic body with this ballistic fat-frying muscle tool.

October 29, 2018

man doing battle ropes in a gym

Ropes aren’t just for sailing and S&M. They’re a must-have tool for anyone looking to pack on lean mass.

“The key to their effectiveness is that they work each arm independently, eliminating strength imbalances as they sculpt your muscle,” says John Brookfield, creator of the original battling-ropes system. They also provide a killer cardio workout.

Related: Never Look Like The New Guy At The Gym With This Beginner’s Workout

It’s time to learn the ropes. Here are two rope exercises you must master:

Battle-Rope Waves

Battle Ropes 1

This is the classic battling-rope exercise. “It works each arm independently and keeps your muscles under tension for extended periods,” says Brookfield.

Directions: Hold the ends of the rope at arm’s length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 1 to 20 minutes.

Related: The 5 Muscles That Make Up Your Abs PLUS Our Workout Plan

Battle-Rope Crossovers

Battle Ropes 2

Instead of making waves, slam the rope to the ground. “You’ll build more power and hammer your core,” says Brookfield.

Directions: Keep both feet flat on the floor as you move the ends in an arc above your head, lifting them to your left and slamming them down hard to your right. Repeat in the opposite direction. Continue alternating for 1 to 20 minutes.

Training Rule #1: Move in many directions

Don’t just wave the ropes up and down. “Try different motions to work different muscles and skills,” says Brookfield. Going from side to side,
for example, places more emphasis on your hips and core, building total body stability.

Related: The 6 Common Fitness Tips That Are Actually Bad Advice

Moving the ropes in circles improves shoulder mobility and range of motion, boosting athleticism and reducing your risk of injury. Switching among different motions in your training sessions will help you sculpt functional, real-world strength.

Training Rule #2: Use ropes for everything 

Lots of guys use battle ropes as a finisher or as one exercise in a larger circuit. “But ropes also make for a great workout in and of themselves,” Brookfield says. You might do each exercise on this page for 10 minutes, for example, or do waves alone for a full 20 minutes.

“Doing one task for extended periods teaches your mind to focus and helps your body flush lactic acid.” It also extends the time your muscles are under tension, helping you build strength as you shed fat.

Training Rule #3: Adjust the resistance

The amount of slack in the rope determines the load. “Moving away from the anchor point decreases exercise intensity, while stepping toward the anchor point increases it,” Brookfield says.

Related: Struggling To Build Muscle? These 4 Unusual Tips Will Help

Adjust the slack so you’re challenged to complete each set. If you’re doing a battling rope workout, alternate between two minutes closer to the anchor point and one minute farther away. “The time you spend farther from the anchor is active recovery,” says Brookfield.

Battle Fat At Home

Training ropes come in various lengths and thicknesses, but a 46m, 38mm-thick rope works best for most guys. You can also craft your own: Buy 50 metres of generic 38mm rope and wrap the ends in electrical tape. To anchor it, just loop it around a pole. Then start making waves in your fitness.