On The Ropes

Adding battle ropes into your fitness routine

Ready to add something new to your exercise routine? Something that gets your heart pumping, your muscles straining, and is fun to boot? Then make battle ropes part of your fitness program.

Battle ropes are thick, heavy ropes (about 25-30 pounds) that vary in length and are attached to a wall or post. You simply grasp the ropes’ ends and swing them in a variety of ways. It sounds and looks easy, but battle ropes give you a high intensity, calorie-burning, full-body workout.

“If you want to get strong and heart healthy, add battle ropes to your fitness routine,” recommends Joe Rouse, owner of BREAKAWAY FITNESS in Hampstead.

Rouse added battle ropes to his gym after attending a Ropes Gone Wild workshop.

“We did nothing but ropes for ninety minutes and had a blast,” Rouse says. “I implemented and modified the course for my clients … Everyone loves the ropes. They are effective, and they are a really fun way to work out. Often people don’t stick with an exercise routine unless they enjoy it.”

Rouse’s battle ropes courses are based on interval circuit training. Each person rotates through several stations at which they manipulate the ropes for thirty seconds to a minute. They perform basic, easy-to-learn movements such as alternating waves, crisscrosses, slamming the ropes down by their sides, grappling (rotating and throwing the ropes from hip to hip), and arm circles. While keeping the ropes going, which provides an outstanding upper body and core workout all by itself, participants might incorporate additional exercises.

For example, they may move the ropes from side to side while sitting in a “V”, which works their abdominal muscles; or they may perform squats or lunges while manipulating the ropes, which works their legs and glutes.

No matter the rope exercise they are performing, their hearts are pounding and their core is stabilizing their body. As a result, in addition to toning their muscles and improving their cardio health, they also improve their balance, posture, and endurance.

“It’s a pretty intense workout, so you get more bang for (your) buck,” says Elyse Davis, who has been working with battle ropes for about a year and a half. “You get your heart rate up pretty fast. I like that it’s tough.”

Another advantage to ropes workouts is that they can be individualized according to fitness levels.

If you are just starting out, you can work with a lighter rope or one that is shorter. For more intense workouts, simply increase the rope’s weight or length.

That’s why you’ll find women of all abilities adding battle ropes to their fitness regimens.

“Women of any age can do the ropes, and that’s what I love about them,” says Carrie Bailey, who has been working with ropes for two years. “I see women as young as twenty and women in their fifties and seventies doing the ropes. Everybody is at a different stage, and they all work very hard.”

In fact, battle ropes are so versatile they can be modified so women who are pregnant, as well as those who are injured, can still get a good workout. For example, someone who has a foot or knee injury, can do a ropes routine while sitting down.

Of course, like any exercise regimen, you must work the ropes consistently to see results. Rouse recommends incorporating two, thirty-minute rope workouts a week into an exercise schedule.

“It’s hard,” says battle ropes user Elyse Davis. “My legs and arms are burning, but I always walk out glad that I did it because I know it will get me the results I want.”

Indeed, the forty-five-year-old mother says she’s in the best shape she’s been in since she was a teenager – and she credits that, in part, to the ropes workouts.

Battle ropes are standard equipment in gyms that specialize in functional fitness such as boot camps or CrossFit and may often be found in standard gyms as well. In gyms that don’t focus on functional fitness, you may have to develop your own battle rope routines.

Whether you want to do a ropes workout on your own or join a class, if you want to kick your exercise routine up a notch or two, give battle ropes a try.


To view more of photographer Michael Cline's work, go to www.michaelclinephoto.com.