Written by Rob King, CPT, Founder & CEO of Heavyweights Fitness  |  Photos by Paul Buceta

If you want to get whipped into shape, look no further than a set of ropes. These bad boys improve your fitness in every way, from strengthening your core to slaying calories, and as for cardio, think about battle ropes as sprinting for the upper body.

The concept of using ropes as fitness equipment was pioneered by John Brookfield, the strongman known for ripping 60 decks of cards in half in 60 seconds, and who brought rope training to the masses. He discovered that by maneuvering the ropes in a variety of both linear and circular motions, it created a peak heart rate in the athlete. Today, battle ropes are commonly used for high intensity interval training to develop power and explosiveness, as well as anaerobic and aerobic endurance.

There are tons of benefits to using ropes in your training, but here are 5 good ones:

1. Improved Cardiovascular Capacity
The high intensity, high-speed movements will crank up your cardiovascular capacity very quickly.

2. Maximum Caloric Burn
When small muscles have to do big work it drives up caloric expenditure fast. With the forearms, biceps, triceps and shoulders moving at a high speed under tension you will burn a lot of calories in a short period of time.

3. Improved Body Composition Changes
Ropes will help you burn fat and build muscle at the same time. Add in the EPOC (Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption), aka “after burn”, you get from this versatile tool, and you will be burning more calories even after your workout is over.

4. Improved Timing & Coordination
Rope training is guaranteed to improve timing and coordination, which can help you in your sport and in daily life. Add jumps, shuffles, kneeling, and moving backwards and forwards into your rope training, and it becomes a full-body functional workout.

5. Improved Mental Toughness
When it comes to making gains and getting results, never underestimate the importance of mental toughness. An intense workout using battle ropes will test your mental willpower without running your body into the ground.

Tips for using ropes:

• Keep your core tight the entire time
• Move through the shoulders, relax your arms
• Use short, quick movements
• Aim for quality over quantity
• Don’t forget to breathe!

How long should you work the ropes?

Working for longer than 30 seconds usually leads to form breakdown, so shorter work periods are going to be more affective. For example, 20-30 seconds of maximum effort and intensity is better than 60 seconds or more with improper form. Keep the intensity high, and the work and rest times low.

This routine uses four styles:

Simultaneously raise and lower the ropes as hard and quickly as you can.

Alternate left and right slams, raising one as the other lowers.

Simultaneously move the ropes in large circular motions away from each other.

Simultaneously move the ropes in large circular motions towards each other.

How to:

For each round, perform exercises A1-A4 one after the other, following the instructed work to rest ratio. Rest 30 seconds between rounds. For an advanced workout, perform plank or add in body weight squats, push-ups, or lateral lunges during rest periods.

ROUND 1: Warm Up
15 Seconds Work
30 Seconds Rest Between Exercises

20 Seconds Work
25 Seconds Rest Between Exercises

25 Seconds Work
20 Seconds Rest Between Exercises

20 Seconds Work
10 Seconds Rest Between Exercises

15 Seconds Work Each
No Rest Between Exercises

Round 6: Cool Down
15 Seconds Work
30 Seconds Rest Between Exercises

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