Learning the ropes

The battle rope workout is the hot new routine that has fitness junkies hooked, says Saimi Sattar

  • Published 12.07.15
Fitness and wellness expert Vesna Jacob acknowledges that while the battle ropes workout looks easy, it’s actually very rigorous (Photo: Jagan Negi)

Make waves with your newest workout — literally. Battle ropes, a high intensity workout for the upper body and the core muscles, has the rapt attention of fitness junkies.

For the curious-sounding battle rope workout, all you need is — a rope. If you are wondering what gave the workout its name, fitness trainers say that it perhaps comes from the ropes used by the Army when preparing for battle, or the fact that you are battling ropes in the workout!

The workout demands a rope that’s not rough and is a minimum of 20ft long. A thick sisal (fabric) rope is ideal for the purpose. Himanshu Bathla, head trainer, CrossFit Stride-Powered by Reebok, Gurgaon, says: “It should be 30-40mm thick for a proper grip.”

And this is how the workout pans out: Double the rope length-wise by anchoring it to a tree or any other stable object at the middle. “While holding the ends of the rope in each hand, move your hands up and down or sideways in order to create a wave with the rope. Ensure that the wave travels to the far other end of the rope. It looks easy, but, trust me, it isn’t,” says Vesna Jacob, a Delhi-based fitness and wellness expert. She recommends using gloves for this workout.

The trainers at Fitness First say that the battle ropes exercises improve one’s grip as well as the arm and shoulder strength (Photo: Jagan Negi)

Jatin Arora, founder, Bootcamp Yellow, which conducts outdoor fitness programmes in Gurgaon, has been using battle ropes for over a year. He says: “The rope has to be of a minimum length as the wave-motion will not be possible with a shorter rope. The longer the rope, the greater the momentum it will generate which in turn will make the workout tough as it will be hard to manoeuvre it.” He adds that when you touch a level of dexterity, you can experiment with a rope as long as 250ft.

Some 20 different kinds of movements are possible in a battle rope workout. The up and down waves and sideways movements are easier while a bull whip (one jumps and hits the rope on the ground) and the single-arm waves are some of the tougher moves.

Says Prosenjit Biswas, head trainer, Skulpt, a gym and fitness centre in Calcutta: “One can do seven to eight exercises of 20 to 30 repetitions each.”

Bootcamp Yellow’s founder Jatin Arora has introduced several variations in the battle ropes regimen to make the workout more interesting. 

Trainers alternate between the 20 different movements while also introducing several variations within them so that monotony doesn’t creep into the workout. Arora makes trainees balance one foot on a Bosu Ball (the huge ball that is used in a gym) so that there’s an element of balance and a workout of the core muscles. Jacob, on the other hand, makes people use them in different positions — while doing a lunge, a squat or a split squat.

The workout is ideal for people short on time. Says Bathla: “The training is easy and since it’s a high intensity workout, it cannot be done for more than 30 seconds at a stretch. A battle rope workout can be clubbed with running.” So, one can do a battle rope workout for 20 seconds and alternate it with running for 40 seconds and repeat this five times.

The benefits of this workout are immense, say the trainers. “It’s a cardio-vascular workout that’s also great for the shoulders, gluts and back muscles,” says Arora. It also works on the hamstrings, joints and the core muscles while the workout promotes limb coordination.

At CrossFit Stride-Powered by Reebok, the battle ropes workout is clubbed with running for a high-intensity interval training workout (Photo: Jagan Negi)

Deepak Rawat, head trainer, Fitness First, Delhi, says: “It’s an entire body workout that makes multiple joints exercise at the same time. The exercises improve one’s grip as well as the arm/shoulder strength.”

Trainers also agree that it’s a great way to de-stress. Says Jacob: “Battle ropes keep you focussed and give you immediate visual feedback on whether you are faring well or not.”

Rawat adds: “When you hit the rope on the ground, it acts like a stress buster.” Moreover, it’s not intimidating like the machines in a gym. But Bathla sounds a cautionary note: “Beginners must do these exercises under guidance as the action pulls at the shoulders and there’s always a chance of shoulder dislocation.”

So, today, a rope is all that you require to give yourself a complete body workout.