We Recommend This 15-Minute “Battle Ropes Workout”

Full-body, HIIT-inspired and low-impact. What more could you want?

A shirtless man with impressive back muscles using battle ropes.
We didn't know how to use them for a while, either. Here ya go.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Battle ropes have long held our top gym floor prize for Equipment That’s Not As Fun As It Looks.

That’s mainly because wielding 30 feet of two-inch, 20-pound rope for any stretch of time is extremely difficult. While the ropes — along with other “unconventional training tools,” like sand bags or maces — seem like a delightful respite from the usual fare, they’re still hard work.

For a while, my M.O. was to mess around with them at the end of a workout, as a late stage stinger. I’d see how long I could last and call it a day. But the best way to demystify battle ropes (and potentially make them a regular part of your training), is to try a HIIT-inspired workout devoted entirely to using them.

Below, a 15-minute scorcher that will work far more than just your forearms. Assuming proper form, these moves will work your core, upper/lower back, shoulders and lower half, too. It’s full-body, low-impact and lets you finish by “power slamming” the floor, which…actually is as fun as it looks.

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The Battle Ropes Workout

Warm up however you prefer for this one, though we recommend a few minutes on the assault bike, then a couple rounds of air squats and jumping rope. Here’s the official regimen:

  • Double Wave: The standard beginner’s move — stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the end of each rope, and generate “waves” by moving both arms up and down at the same time. Try 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest, for three sets.
  • Alternating Wave: Assume the same position as double wave, but this time alternate that up and down movement between each arm. Again: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, for three sets.
  • Outside Circles: Move both arms at the same time, making large, outward circles. This time, do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest, for two sets.
  • Inside Circles: Similar to outside circles, but your arms should move in toward each other. Another instance of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest, for two sets.
  • Power Slam: This one turns the gym into a rage room. Raise both ends of the rope high, then slam them down to the ground with as much force as possible. 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest, two sets total. Raise both ends of the rope high, then slam them down the ground with as much force as possible. 30 seconds on, for one climactic set.

An Extra Credit Move

Once you’re done, try to stretch your arms for a bit (otherwise you’ll really feel it in the morning), and maybe even lie down for a little diaphragmatic breathing. If you’re inclined to try one more move, pencil in Single-Arm Plank Waves. They’re nasty: in a plank position, hold one end of the rope and make small, rapid up and down movements. Switch arms after 30 seconds.

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