Daily Dose of Coach #210: Technique - Battle Ropes

Battle Ropes are something I use primarily in metabolic conditioning circuits and finishers. If you've ever done any of my personal training programs or group classes you've probably been involved with them.

Like many other exercises, people doing the ropes can make it look pretty bad. And if you're making it look bad, chances are you're not getting what you're supposed to out of it.

I won't go into every different type of variation, but rather talk set up, execution and how the body should be positioned to get the maximal effects for most movements:

  • Set up (Grip): The majority of the exercises you'll do require the "forehand grip," which is grabbing the ropes with your thumbs facing up. First, grab the rope a few inches from the end. If you are doing exercises like the jumping jack you will use the "hammer grip." The hammer grip is holding the ends of the rope like a microphone.


  • Set up (Stance): Set up in an athletic position. This means feet are a little wider than shoulder width apart, knees are bent, butt is slightly back (not squatting), torso is leaning slightly forward (same angle as the shin), back is flat (hands out in front with the rope) and the head is up.


  • Set Up (Rope Length): Pull the ropes out to where they are slightly taut. From this position take one or two big steps in so there is slack. Reason is, if the rope is too taut you will not be able to generate the wave like movements and the ropes will actually pull you forward.


  • Execution: Once you have established a proper stance, the goal is to generate wave like actions with the ropes while holding your body still. You shouldn't look like one of those outdoor inflatable marketing bodies flapping in the wind when you do these. Maintain a stable core and the athletic position.


  • Execution (arm movement): For exercises like waves and alternating waves the ropes should stay between the shoulders and above the knees. For slams, above the shoulders and below the knees. And jumping jacks, above the shoulders and to the sides of the hip.


  • Intensity: Ropes aren't meant to be done at a slow or moderate intensity. If you've ever seen anyone do ropes like this you'll know what I mean. They are usually standing there like a zombie (mouth is usually open) and they're moving their arms so slow you're just wondering what the hell they are doing. When you do ropes there is one cue I've found to work, "be violent." Move those ropes with a violent ambition. But also, make sure that your stability matches your aggression. If you are violent but look like you're getting electrocuted, you need to get back to an intensity that you're able to maintain a stable and controlled stance.