Wanting a piece of equipment that strengthens your abs, arms, and shoulders, engages your legs, and gives a killer conditioning workout all in one go? Look no further than battle ropes. No doubt you would have seen this old school piece of equipment either in action or lying around the gym. Weighted ropes have become an increasingly popular fitness trend – and for good reason. Offering full body strength and cardio training, battle ropes are great for both building muscle and elevating your heart rate. And because ropes can create force and tension from angles that are harder to achieve with basic weight training, they can confuse and surprise your muscles into making new gains.

The great thing about battle ropes is that they can be used in a number of different ways and programmed for people of all fitness levels. They are a great exercise to put in a boot camp style circuit, include in a HIIT session, to add as a finisher at the end of a workout, or if you’re feeling up to it, can make up a whole training session.

Let’s take a look at some of the basic battle rope movements to master –

Alternating Waves:

Probably the most common battle rope exercise, the wave is a great move to start off with. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Holding one end of the rope in each hand, alternate pumping your arms up and down, creating alternate waves in the rope.


Double Waves:

Once you’re comfortable with the alternating wave, give the double wave a go. It is essentially the same movement, with the only difference being your arms move in tandem. Both wave exercises are a great way to target your biceps.


Shoulder Circles:

Standing with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, grasp the rope with palms facing down. Lift your arms over your shoulders, and move your arms in circles. Start by moving in a clockwise direction, and then anti-clockwise for a specified period of time. This will get your shoulders feeling a serious burn!


To perform this exercise, lift both ends of the rope overhead, and then slam the rope down with full force to the ground. This move engages your shoulders, arms, back, and especially your core.



Another great movement for your shoulders, the snake rope exercise is similar to the wave but instead of the ropes swinging up and down, they swing from side to side. Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, holding the ropes by your sides. Lower into a squat, pulling your arms wide and keeping them parallel to the floor. Without crossing your hands, move your arms in toward one another and then back out again, creating a snake like pattern.

These fundamental rope exercises are perfect to add into a circuit style session or HIIT workout. The work to rest ratio can be adjusted depending on fitness level and experience (see below).

Now let’s take a look at how battle ropes can be programmed for a full session and how more advanced movements can be added for a full body workout:

Workout 1:

A1: Battle Rope Jump Slam

A2: Battle Rope Alternating Wave with Squat

A3: Battle Rope Alternating Wave with Side Lunge

A4: Battle Rope Circle Wave

A5: Battle Rope Low to High Chop

A6: Battle Rope Kneel to Stand Wave

Workout 2:

A1: Battle Rope Burpee Slams

A2: Battle Rope Alternating Wave with Lunge

A3: Battle Rope Single Arm Plank Wave

A4: Battle Rope Double Wave with Jump Squat

A5: Battle Rope Jumping Jacks

A6: Battle Rope Snakes

Follow this guide for work to rest ratios based on fitness levels;

  • Beginner – 15 seconds work, 45 seconds rest
  • Intermediate – 20 seconds work, 40 seconds rest
  • Advanced – 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest
  • Elite – 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest

Exercises A1-A6 = 1 round. Once one round has been completed, rest for 2 minutes. Repeat for 3-5 rounds.