12 of the Most Challenging Battle Ropes Exercises
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2016
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Oftentimes when training with battle ropes, people stick with basic moves that lack variety and complexity. Because of this, the ropes are frequently underutilized. However, with a little creativity the battle ropes can become one of your favorite pieces of equipment at the gym. Battle ropes are not only an innovative and stimulating way to train, they also give you a highly effective total-body workout. Torch calories, gain lean muscle, improve functional strength and skyrocket your lung capacity with these 12 moves -- they’ll be quite challenging, but you might just learn to love them! NOTE: Perform each of the following exercises for time. Beginners should start with 15 to 25 seconds per move, but if you’re more advanced, challenge yourself and shoot for 30 to 45 seconds per move.
STANDING SQUAT WITH ALTERNATING WAVES
Begin in an upright square stance with an overhand grip, leaving some slack in the rope. Sink your hips back to a squat position as if you were going to sit in a chair, transferring your weight to your heels and maintaining an upright chest. Forcefully alternate your arms up and down, driving through your legs to get the most power. Do your best to maintain consistent waves throughout the entire set. Vary your waves from big to small by changing the amount you raise and lower the rope. Smaller waves target fast-twitch and speed muscles in the arms, and bigger waves will promote more core involvement and overall power through the arms and legs.
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STANDING SQUAT WITH DOUBLE WAVES
Replicate the exact same starting position as the previous exercise. But for this one, move your arms together, creating one consistent wave with both sides of the rope through the entire set. Again, mix in smaller and bigger waves either within one set or alternating big and small waves in separate sets. Similar to the previous movement, the smaller, faster waves develop speed and fast-twitch muscle, and the bigger waves will encourage more core and full-body power and control.
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JUMP SQUAT TO POWER SLAM
Enhance your explosive and overall power with this intense plyometric move. Begin standing and make sure that you have lots of slack in the rope. Sink your hips back and explode through the soles of your feet as you jump off the floor. As you push upward, simultaneously take a deep inhale and drive your hands up over your head as high as you’re able. As you land, slam the rope to the floor with as much power as you can, sinking back to a squat and forcefully exhaling with the slam. Utilizing the proper breathing pattern through this move will encourage core-muscle recruitment. Perform this move repetitively, restarting at your beginning stance after each repetition and maintaining proper mechanics.
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STANDING HIP-TOSS ROTATION
This functional battle rope move targets your core and legs. Starting in a square stance, hold the rope with an underhand grip. Sink your hips to the half-squat position and maintain an athletic stance throughout the entire set. Take the rope to your right hip and forcefully rip it across your torso over to your left hip. As you rotate the rope over to your left hip, turn your right foot and knee inwards, as if you were squashing a bug under the ball of your foot. As soon as the rope lands on the floor, immediately rip the rope across your torso back to your right hip, turning your left foot and knee inwards. Generate your power from the floor up through your legs, across your core and through your arms.
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SPLIT SQUAT WITH HIP-TOSS ROTATION
Take the previous move to the next level with this variation. Holding the split-squat position will challenge your leg strength and core stability. Start standing, but before beginning, drop your right foot behind you to a split-squat stance. Be sure your left knee (front leg) is stacked over your left ankle at a 90-degree angle and your right leg (back leg) is similarly at a 90-degree angle about two or three inches from the ground. Your hips should be squared forward. With your underhand grip, rip the rope from the inside of your left leg to the outside of the left leg, keeping your core tight through the motion. As soon as the rope lands, immediately rip the rope back over your left leg. Do this continuously through your set. Once you’ve completed a set with your left leg forward, do a set with your right leg forward and your left leg back.
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UNDERHAND POWER JACKS
Try this jumping jack variation with the added resistance of the battle rope, which targets the shoulders, back, arms and legs. Begin in your square stance with an underhand grip on the rope. Be sure there is plenty of slack in the rope. Do a traditional jumping jack, but as your feet jump to the wide stance, be sure to power up through the legs. By driving up through the legs at a greater force than a traditional jumping jack, you’ll assist your arms in lifting the rope over your head. If you fail to use your legs, this exercise will prove to be much more difficult than it should be. If you’re struggling to do the jumping jacks repeatedly, try doing one rep at a time, then gather yourself after each one in order to maximize your force through the motion.
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SCISSOR JUMP WITH ALTERNATING WAVES
Before starting, it’s important to really focus on using your legs to help power through this entire motion. Assume the square stance with an overhand grip on the rope. When you’re ready, jump and drop your right leg behind you and push your left leg forward -- like a split squat, but only sinking your hips to half the depth of a full split squat. In the same motion, drive your right arm up and drop the left arm to the outside of your left leg. Explode out of the half split squat to a jump, switching your legs while in the air and simultaneously bringing your left arm up and your right arm down to the outside of your right leg. Start slowly until you’re able to control the entire move. Once you have good movement control, increase the speed so the repetitions are consecutive with no pausing between jumps.
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OVERHEAD SLAM TO AN UP-DOWN
Work your entire upper body and core with this intricate move. From your square stance and using an overhand grip, sink to a half squat. Drive through your legs to power your arms upward and outward so that your arms form a Y over your head (similar to a jumping jack but without the legs). Inhale deeply as you bring your arms up. Once your arms reach the top, tear your arms down toward the ground, exhaling with the slam. As you land, sink your hips back to a full squat. Once there, jump your legs back to plank as you would in a burpee, with your hands beneath your shoulders. Immediately jump your legs back to your hands, keeping your feet wide, and then stand to reset.
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IN-AND-OUT RUN WITH ALTERNATING WAVES
This move is great for improving your agility. Start in an athletic square stance, then run forward and backward, keeping your arms pumping up and down with the rope. Keep the waves short and fast as you sprint forward and backpedal. Try to cover about 10 feet of ground as you move along the rope. Keep the rope and your hands to the outside of your hips, and square your hips forward throughout the run. Stay on the balls of your feet, and keep your steps light and quick.
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SEATED HIP-TOSS ROTATION
By sitting down in this particular exercise you focus on your core. Sit facing the rope and hold it with an underhand grip. Start with your heels on the ground and a good amount of slack in the rope. Much like the previous hip-toss rotation movements, you will rip the rope from hip to hip across your torso, although you will exclude the use of your legs in this variation. Be sure to rotate your torso through the move, but keep your chin tucked and your core engaged. Once you feel comfortable with your feet down, lift your feet off the ground a few inches for even more of a challenge.
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PLANK WITH SINGLE-ARM SNAKE
Amp up your core and arm strength with this complex move. Begin in a plank position with the battle rope in one hand and the other hand planted on the floor directly below your shoulder. Keep your feet wide and your weight pressed back into your heels to provide a strong foundation. Line up your hips with your shoulders and heels, tuck your pelvis and maintain a neutral spine. Once you’ve obtained the proper plank position, begin moving your hand with the battle rope side to side at a quick pace. As you work through your set, don’t allow your hips to sag or tilt to the side. Pretend as though there’s a glass of water on your lower back that you don’t want to spill. That way you keep your hips level. Repeat with your opposite arm for the same amount of time.
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SIDE PLANK WITH ROPE PULL
Oblique and transverse abdominal strength is often overlooked. This is a phenomenal exercise to isolate those areas. Rather than wrapping the battle rope around an anchor, tie one end of the rope to a kettlebell or weighted plate (about eight to 15 pounds). Walk the weighted end to one side of the room so that the rope is in a single straight line. Begin this exercise at the opposite end of the rope from the kettlebell. Position yourself facing the rope in a side plank supported by your elbow. With your top arm, pull the rope toward you, dropping the excess rope behind you. While pulling, keep your elbow tight to your hip and torso, and maintain a stable plank, preventing your hips from tilting forward or sinking toward the ground. Once you’ve pulled the weighted end to you completely, run the weighted end of the rope back down to the opposite end of the room then return to the non-weighted end and repeat on the opposite side.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
If you’ve successfully managed to do all of these moves, chances are you’ve already collapsed to the floor and feel as if your heart is about to jump out of your chest! Great work! You’ve just completed one of the most challenging workouts there is. Will you dare to try it again? Have you ever trained with battle ropes before? Did we miss any of your favorite moves? Let us know in the comments section below.
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