12 of the Most Challenging Battle Ropes Exercises

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Man using the battle ropes during a workout at his gym

You may have seen people working out with battle ropes at the gym and thought, "Wow! That looks cool," but never attempted them yourself. While they may seem intimidating or even one-dimensional, 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 way to add variety to your workout, they also give you a highly effective full-body workout, torching calories, building lean muscle and improving functional strength. These 12 moves are challenging, but you might just learn to love them! Perform each one for time, starting with 15 to 25 seconds and gradually increasing to 30 to 45 seconds.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

You may have seen people working out with battle ropes at the gym and thought, "Wow! That looks cool," but never attempted them yourself. While they may seem intimidating or even one-dimensional, 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 way to add variety to your workout, they also give you a highly effective full-body workout, torching calories, building lean muscle and improving functional strength. These 12 moves are challenging, but you might just learn to love them! Perform each one for time, starting with 15 to 25 seconds and gradually increasing to 30 to 45 seconds.

1. Standing Squat With Alternating Waves

Man doing standing squats with alternating waves with the battle ropes

1. Begin in an upright square stance with an overhand grip, leaving some slack in the rope.

2. 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.

3. Forcefully move your arms up and down, alternating arms (one up and one down, then switch) and driving through your legs to get the most power.

Do your best to maintain consistent waves throughout the entire set. But with each set, you can wary 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 promote more core involvement and overall power through your arms and legs.

Read more: 16 Exercises From the World's Best Trainers

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Begin in an upright square stance with an overhand grip, leaving some slack in the rope.

2. 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.

3. Forcefully move your arms up and down, alternating arms (one up and one down, then switch) and driving through your legs to get the most power.

Do your best to maintain consistent waves throughout the entire set. But with each set, you can wary 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 promote more core involvement and overall power through your arms and legs.

Read more: 16 Exercises From the World's Best Trainers

2. Standing Squat With Double Waves

Man doing standing squats with double waves with the battle ropes

1. Begin in an upright square stance with an overhand grip, leaving some slack in the rope.

2. 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.

3. Move your arms up and down together, creating one consistent wave with both sides of the rope through the set.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Begin in an upright square stance with an overhand grip, leaving some slack in the rope.

2. 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.

3. Move your arms up and down together, creating one consistent wave with both sides of the rope through the set.

3. Jump Squat to Power Slam

Man doing jump squats to power slams with the battle ropes

1. Begin standing and make sure that you have lots of slack in the rope.

2. Sink your hips back and explode through the soles of your feet as you jump off the floor.

3. As you push upward, simultaneously take a deep inhale and drive your hands up over your head as high as you're able.

4. 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.

This plyometric move enhances your explosive and overall power. Make sure to use the proper breathing pattern to encourage core-muscle recruitment — inhale as you jump, exhale as you come down.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Begin standing and make sure that you have lots of slack in the rope.

2. Sink your hips back and explode through the soles of your feet as you jump off the floor.

3. As you push upward, simultaneously take a deep inhale and drive your hands up over your head as high as you're able.

4. 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.

This plyometric move enhances your explosive and overall power. Make sure to use the proper breathing pattern to encourage core-muscle recruitment — inhale as you jump, exhale as you come down.

4. Standing Hip-Toss Rotation

Man doing standing hip-toss rotations with the battle ropes

1. Starting in a square stance, hold the rope with an underhand grip.

2. Sink your hips to the half-squat position and maintain an athletic stance throughout the entire set.

3. Take the rope to your right hip and forcefully rip it across your torso over to your left hip.

4. 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.

5. 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 inward.

This functional battle rope move targets your core and legs. Concentrate on generating power from the floor up through your legs, across your core and through your arms.

Read more: 10 Medicine-Ball Moves to Whittle Your Waistline

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Starting in a square stance, hold the rope with an underhand grip.

2. Sink your hips to the half-squat position and maintain an athletic stance throughout the entire set.

3. Take the rope to your right hip and forcefully rip it across your torso over to your left hip.

4. 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.

5. 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 inward.

This functional battle rope move targets your core and legs. Concentrate on generating power from the floor up through your legs, across your core and through your arms.

Read more: 10 Medicine-Ball Moves to Whittle Your Waistline

5. Split Squat With Hip-Toss Rotation

Man doing split squats with hip-toss rotation with the battle ropes

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. As soon as the rope lands, immediately rip the rope back over your left leg. Do this continuously through your set.

4. Once you've completed a set with your left leg forward, do a set with your right leg forward and your left leg back.

Take the previous move to the next level with this variation. Holding the split-squat position will challenge your leg strength and core stability.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. As soon as the rope lands, immediately rip the rope back over your left leg. Do this continuously through your set.

4. Once you've completed a set with your left leg forward, do a set with your right leg forward and your left leg back.

Take the previous move to the next level with this variation. Holding the split-squat position will challenge your leg strength and core stability.

6. Underhand Power Jacks

Man doing underhand power jacks with the battle ropes

1. Begin in your square stance with an underhand grip on the rope. Be sure there is plenty of slack in the rope.

2. Do a traditional jumping jack, but as your feet jump to the wide stance, be sure to power up through the legs.

3. Jump your legs back to the start and lower your arms.

This jumping jack variation with battle ropes targets your shoulders, back, arms and 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 be much more difficult than it should. If you're struggling, try doing one rep at a time, gathering yourself after each one.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Begin in your square stance with an underhand grip on the rope. Be sure there is plenty of slack in the rope.

2. Do a traditional jumping jack, but as your feet jump to the wide stance, be sure to power up through the legs.

3. Jump your legs back to the start and lower your arms.

This jumping jack variation with battle ropes targets your shoulders, back, arms and 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 be much more difficult than it should. If you're struggling, try doing one rep at a time, gathering yourself after each one.

7. Scissor Jump With Alternating Waves

Man doing scissor jumps with alternating waves with the battle ropes

1. Assume the square stance with an overhand grip on the rope.

2. 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.

3. In the same motion, drive your right arm up and drop the left arm to the outside of your left leg.

4. 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.

It's important to really focus on using your legs to help power you. Start slowly until you're able to control the entire move. Once you have good movement control, increase the speed so the reps are consecutive with no pausing between jumps.

Read more: The 16 Most Effective Fat-Loss Moves — No Equipment Required

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Assume the square stance with an overhand grip on the rope.

2. 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.

3. In the same motion, drive your right arm up and drop the left arm to the outside of your left leg.

4. 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.

It's important to really focus on using your legs to help power you. Start slowly until you're able to control the entire move. Once you have good movement control, increase the speed so the reps are consecutive with no pausing between jumps.

Read more: The 16 Most Effective Fat-Loss Moves — No Equipment Required

8. Overhead Slam to an Up-Down

Man doing overhead slams to an up-down with the battle ropes

1. From your square stance and using an overhand grip, sink to a half squat.

2. 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.

3. Once your arms reach the top, exhale as you slam your arms down toward the ground.

4. As you land, sink your hips back to a full squat.

5. Jump your legs back to plank as you would in a burpee, with your hands beneath your shoulders.

6. Immediately jump your legs back to your hands, keeping your feet wide, and then stand to reset.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. From your square stance and using an overhand grip, sink to a half squat.

2. 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.

3. Once your arms reach the top, exhale as you slam your arms down toward the ground.

4. As you land, sink your hips back to a full squat.

5. Jump your legs back to plank as you would in a burpee, with your hands beneath your shoulders.

6. Immediately jump your legs back to your hands, keeping your feet wide, and then stand to reset.

9. In-and-Out Run With Alternating Waves

Man doing in-and-out run with alternating waves with the battle ropes

1. Start in an athletic square stance, then run forward and backward, keeping your arms pumping up and down with the rope.

2. 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.

3. Keep the rope and your hands to the outside of your hips, and square your hips forward throughout the run.

4. Stay on the balls of your feet, and keep your steps light and quick.

Read more: The 15 Toughest Do-Anywhere Workout Moves

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Start in an athletic square stance, then run forward and backward, keeping your arms pumping up and down with the rope.

2. 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.

3. Keep the rope and your hands to the outside of your hips, and square your hips forward throughout the run.

4. Stay on the balls of your feet, and keep your steps light and quick.

Read more: The 15 Toughest Do-Anywhere Workout Moves

10. Seated Hip-Toss Rotation

Man doing seated hip-toss rotations with the battle ropes

1. 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.

2. Much like the previous hip-toss rotation movements, you'll rip the rope from hip to hip across your torso, although you will exclude the use of your legs in this variation.

3. Be sure to rotate your torso through the move, but keep your chin tucked and your core engaged.

By sitting down in this particular exercise you focus on your core. Once you feel comfortable with your feet down, lift your feet off the ground a few inches for even more of a challenge.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. 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.

2. Much like the previous hip-toss rotation movements, you'll rip the rope from hip to hip across your torso, although you will exclude the use of your legs in this variation.

3. Be sure to rotate your torso through the move, but keep your chin tucked and your core engaged.

By sitting down in this particular exercise you focus on your core. Once you feel comfortable with your feet down, lift your feet off the ground a few inches for even more of a challenge.

11. Plank With Single-Arm Snake

Man doing planks with single-arm snake with the battle ropes

1. Begin in a plank position with the battle rope in one hand and the other hand planted on the floor directly below your shoulder.

2. 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.

3. Begin moving your hand with the battle rope side to side at a quick pace.

Amp up your core and arm strength with this complex move. 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.

Read more: 14 Moves to Build the Strength and Stamina of an MMA Fighter

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. Begin in a plank position with the battle rope in one hand and the other hand planted on the floor directly below your shoulder.

2. 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.

3. Begin moving your hand with the battle rope side to side at a quick pace.

Amp up your core and arm strength with this complex move. 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.

Read more: 14 Moves to Build the Strength and Stamina of an MMA Fighter

12. Side Plank With Rope Pull

Man doing Side Plank With Rope Pull with the battle ropes

1. 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).

2. Walk the weighted end to one side of the room so that the rope is in a single straight line.

3. 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.

4. With your top arm, pull the rope toward you, dropping the excess rope behind you. 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.

5. 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.

Oblique and transverse abdominal strength is often overlooked. This is a phenomenal exercise to isolate those areas.

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com

1. 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).

2. Walk the weighted end to one side of the room so that the rope is in a single straight line.

3. 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.

4. With your top arm, pull the rope toward you, dropping the excess rope behind you. 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.

5. 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.

Oblique and transverse abdominal strength is often overlooked. This is a phenomenal exercise to isolate those areas.

Ballistic Exercises

Credit: Travis McCoy/travismccoy.com
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