Once in a while I need to get in a quick ten to twenty-minute workout between clients. With the limited time, I don’t want to waste it on moving from one machine or bench to another, nor do I want to fight over the free weights. Coming up with a workout that involves some added resistance, but doesn’t include a lot of equipment takes some creativity. I could go with a personal favorite, the TRX suspension trainer, and add a weight vest, but it doesn’t help if you don’t have a weight vest. In times like these I turn to…(fade in angelic music and point spotlight on) battle ropes.
I’ve come to respect the simplicity and effectiveness of battle ropes. This bundle of threaded, nylon joy has what it takes to get my heart pumping and my muscles burning. With only one piece of equipment, I’ve turned a twenty square foot area into my battle arena. It’s me versus the rope and I’m determined to sweat it out till the end. Believe me, all you need is twenty minutes to feel accomplished. Keep reading and I’ll explain how you can equip yourself for a great match with the battle ropes.
If this is your first time swinging battle ropes be prepared for your arms (as well as the rest of your body) to be sore. The thickness of the ropes cause your forearms to work harder as they grip tightly to swing the ropes at various speeds. This constant grip will tax the forearm’s muscular endurance, so it’s a good idea to give yourself more rest time between sets. In addition, you’re constantly moving your arms which will expend more energy in your shoulders, biceps, and triceps. You’re done when your arms are done, so warm them up really well. If you don’t, good luck trying to swing the rope with you teeth.
Concentrate to the Core
Your abs and back should stay engaged throughout the entire movement phase. One common error is to round the back because the rope is pulling you forward as you swing the rope. This can cause back pain and possible injury. Another reason you have to start slow and get the rhythm down before speeding up the cadence of the swings. If you lean forward, remember to hinge from the hip and not from the waist. Perform planks and deadlifts to create a solid core that will hold your body upright and withstand the blows of the rope.
Get a Leg Up
Even though battle ropes look like an entirely upper body workout; don’t be fooled. Similar to any explosive movement, the lower body generates the power that you see when someone is making waves or slamming the rope in all directions. Aquring a good strength base in your legs will help make it easier to control the rope’s movement. Don’t focus on using machines to get the strength though. Exercises like lunges, squats, lateral lunges or sumo squats will get your legs conditioned to go the extra rounds.
It’s All About Rhythm
So now that you have the strength and endurance to pick up the rope and swing it, the final part is making the movement smooth like a fine tuned machine. Focus on the midsection so that the hips can move freely, while engaging the abs and back. Let the shoulders relax so each wave that comes out of the rope is fluid. Tightening up the arms and shoulders too much will result in a choppy and irregular waveform. Think of counting in your head, “1,2,1,2,1,2.” You can also use a power song or a song with a heavy down beat to keep your rhythm. Whatever you do, don’t force the muscles to move sporadically.
Now that you’re ready to go a round with the nylon beast, keep in mind that it does take time. Don’t get discouraged if you lose the control of the rope. Just remember to stay relaxed and hang on tight. You might find that you’ll be a champ at this like you are with your fitness goals.
For a great total body blast, try the following workout.