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5 Moves For Your Next Battle Rope Workout

Want to know what separates the best workouts from the rest? It’s the fact that you’re having fun. The best workouts make you feel like you’re at the top of your game—pumping out rep after rep, maintaining your form to a T, and motivating you to try out new moves.

If you feel like your strength training workouts have been missing that fun factor lately, don’t sweat—it might just be time to incorporate some battle rope exercises into your routine. A conditioning rope, consisting of two ropes secured to the ground by a weight, lends itself to numerous challenging, creative, and fun home workout possibilities that will keep your heart pumping and your motivation soaring.

Ready to learn how and what muscles do battle ropes work? Keep reading for a list of essential battle rope exercises, including waves, whips, and more. Who said those double dutch days were over in elementary school?

#1 Bicep Waves

Out of all the different battle rope exercises, bicep waves are the easiest to learn. Plus, they provide a dynamic workout, activating the following muscle groups:

  • Biceps – Which gain muscle mass through the effort required to keep the ropes swinging1
  • Core and torso – By providing stability against the movement of the ropes2
  • Legs – By maintaining a squat position throughout the exercise

Do the Wave

To properly perform the bicep wave, take the ends of the ropes in your hands (one rope for each hand) and hold them at arm’s length shoulder-width apart. Squat slightly, then swing the ropes in an up and down motion, alternating arms as you do it.3 

To ensure proper form:4 

  • Keep your back straight
  • Keep your entire body as still as possible
  • Bend your knees to maintain a quarter squat

With this rope exercise, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the amount of improvement you can make over time. Try these tips and tricks to up your game:

  • Tuck your elbows – As you get tired, it can be easy for your form to take a hit, but it’s important to keep your elbows close to your sides while performing the motion. This will help make sure you’re working the correct muscle group, using your biceps to initiate and sustain the wave rather than your shoulders.5
  • Progress to the double wave – If alternating arms just doesn’t cut it for you anymore, amp up the intensity by switching to a coordinated wave, where you move both arms up and down together.6 You can work your way up to the challenge, switching between sets of alternating waves and tandem waves.
  • Keep it fluid – Even while you’re focusing on moving the ropes as fast as you can, try to keep the wave as smooth and fluid as possible.7 The control this requires will develop the strength, endurance, and flexibility of your muscles.

If you’re just beginning with battle ropes or coming back after an injury, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Set your timer for twenty or thirty seconds, and get waving as fast as you can. As you progress, you can lengthen the amount of time and adjust your pace. As you gain momentum using this type of conditioning rope, it won’t be long before you begin to experience the many battle ropes benefits.

Example workouts include:

  • Five sets of thirty-second bicep waves with a one minute rest in between, focusing on rapid waving and strength building.
  • Fifteen minutes of continuous bicep waves with alternating periods of slow and fast movement to build endurance.
  • Ten minutes of bicep waves incorporating both alternating and tandem motions.

#2 Lateral Whips

For a variation on the up-and-down bicep wave, move horizontally from side-to-side to work on your rotational strength.8 By mixing up the direction in this way, you can add more complexity to your workout routine and build the strength needed for daily life. From securing a lightbulb in its socket to gearing up for a baseball swing, the everyday movements we perform require various types of rotation, including the type of rotation you’ll work on with lateral whips.

Specifically, lateral whips work the following upper body muscle groups:9 

  • Shoulders
  • Upper arms, including both biceps and triceps
  • Obliques, in resisting the side-to-side force created by the rope

How to Whip It

To perform the lateral whip, maintain the same position as you would for the bicep wave—one rope in each hand, with knees bent at a quarter squat and feet planted firmly into the ground. However, unlike the bicep wave, you’ll want to hold the ropes at your waist.10 

Then, swing each heavy rope side-to-side in an alternating motion or together as fast as you can.

#3 Outside Spirals

If you’re looking for those rippling shoulder muscles, circular motions are your friend. Incorporating spirals into your battle rope workout will activate the following muscle groups:11 

  • Deltoids – The muscle group that sits on the outside of your shoulder and creates its rounded, sloped contour.
  • Rhomboids – A set of deep shoulder muscles in the back that provide stability and help move the upper arms.

Not only do toned shoulders look good, but, more importantly, they also help you perform better in various situations—athletic or not. Incorporating outside spirals into your workout routine will make sure you’re ready for:

  • Lifting that heavy suitcase onto the airport tram or bringing that weighty wardrobe down the stairs and onto the moving truck.
  • Perfecting that driving swing before the next company golf outing.
  • Throwing punches with more explosive power and follow-through in the boxing gym during your next training session.

Keep It Circling

When creating spirals with the battle ropes, try to maintain a wide circular motion without taking any shortcuts. This will help you maximize your range of motion and build strength evenly throughout your shoulder.

Follow these steps to perform the outside spiral:

  • Establish your position – Maybe you want to jump into your workout as soon as you have your hands on the ropes, but it can be helpful to take a breath and remember your form. For spirals, begin in a quarter- to half-squat position, and keep your weight evenly distributed across your feet. Being too far forward can result in knee injuries over time.12
  • Bring your arms over your head – To create outside circles, take your right arm out in a clockwise direction and your left arm out in a counter-clockwise direction.13 This will keep the ropes from meeting in the middle and tangling. Then, swing them above your head in a synchronized motion. Keep the spirals at similar heights for even muscle development.
  • Put it into a circuit – As with other battle rope workouts, repetition and continuous motion is key. Perform your outside spirals in thirty-second intervals to start, then increase the speed or time as you get more comfortable with the movement. Better yet, include this exercise in your circuit training session with other rope movements to stay active while giving those delts a rest.  

#4 Jump Slams

For those days when you don’t want to leave any energy in the tank, throw a set (or multiple sets) of jump slams into your routine. Jump slams require explosive exertion from head to toe, giving you an intense, full-body workout.14 

Because of the HIIT-like nature of this exercise, it’s perfect for:15 

  • Toning your entire body
  • Quick calorie shedding

Throw It Down with Jump Slams

Bring your coordination cap along for the jump slam and begin with slightly bent knees. Hold a heavy rope in each hand at your side. This dynamic position will be your home base between jumps.

Prepare for the jump by lowering into a squat. From here, use all of your energy to jump into the air while bringing your arms up above your head.16 Make sure to end in a squat to absorb the force of the landing. As you land, bring your arms down and slam the ropes into the ground with all the strength you have.17 

With jump slams, it’s important to not hold back. When doing reps, you can set a timer for a certain amount of time, such as thirty-second intervals with a minute of rest, or you can do a continuous number of reps before taking a break.

#5 Lying T’s

When it comes to full-body workouts, don’t forget to give some love to those muscles in the back. Lying T’s will have you on your stomach and flexing the following:18 

  • Trapezius muscle – Which sits at the back of your head and neck, supporting your posture.19
  • Rear deltoids – The muscles on the back of your shoulders.

Fly like an Eagle

For the Lying T, begin face down on your stomach with your arms spread to the sides. Holding a rope in each hand, move your arms in an up and down motion.20 Keep your arms straight to ensure that the movement originates from your back.

To get the most out of this rope exercise, it’s important to isolate the shoulders and upper back area. To do that effectively, think about the following:21 

  • Keep your core tight
  • Activate your glutes
  • Relax your lower back so it doesn’t arch

Tru Grit: Get More Gains

Whether you’ve just introduced battle ropes into your routine or are a seasoned battle rope user, Tru Grit is here to support your at-home workout needs. With our sturdy industrial fiber Battle Weighted Training Rope and no-fuss steel Rope Anchor, we make it easy for you to go hard at home.

Not sure where to start with all our equipment options? Get in touch with us today to build your personalized fitness experience.


Sources:

Men’s Journal. The Battle Ropes Workout. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/battle-ropes-workout/ 

Men’s Health. A Beginner's Guide to Battling Ropes. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19537513/how-to-use-battling-ropes/ 

Coach. Battle Rope Exercises And Workouts To Get You Ripped. https://www.coachmag.co.uk/full-body-workouts/3781/battle-rope-exercises-and-workouts-to-get-you-ripped 

Garage Gym Experiment. Building Muscle with Battle Ropes. ​https://garagegymexperiment.com/2019/11/09/building-muscle-with-battle-ropes/ 

Onnit Academy. Battle Ropes Side to Side Waves. https://www.onnit.com/academy/battle-ropes-side-to-side-waves/ 

Valet. A Beginner’s Guide to Battle Ropes. https://www.valetmag.com/health-fitness/fitness/2018/how-to-use-battling-ropes-beginners-exercises-100118.php 

Gym Person. What Muscles Do Battle Ropes Work + 7 Exercises with Videos. https://gymperson.com/what-muscles-battle-ropes-work/ 

Onnit Academy. Brian Cushing’s Best Battle Rope Shoulder Exercise You’re Not Doing. https://www.onnit.com/academy/brian-cushings-best-battle-rope-shoulder-exercise-youre-not-doing/ 

Daily Burn. 5 Battle Rope Exercises, 1 Full-Body Cardio Workout. https://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/battle-rope-exercises-full-body-workout/ 

Daily Burn. 6 Plyometrics Exercises for a Better Workout in Less Time. https://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/plyometrics-exercises-workout/ 

Byrdie. Battle Rope Workout. https://www.byrdie.com/battle-rope-workout-5180074 

Coach. Battle Rope Exercises And Workouts To Get You Ripped. https://www.coachmag.co.uk/full-body-workouts/3781/battle-rope-exercises-and-workouts-to-get-you-ripped 

Very Well Health. The Anatomy of the Trapezius Muscle. https://www.verywellhealth.com/trapezius-muscle-297069 

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