Get the lowdown on battle ropes, the hot new fitness craze.
Ever wonder why Wonder Woman is so buff? It turns out that whipping around several feet of a thick rope can give you a full-body workout that slims you down and muscles you up at the same time.
Eager to get roped into this new exercise trend, I visited my friend and trainer extraordinaire Corrin Cramer Pierce at the incredible Nerdstrong gym in North Hollywood, a facility created for geeks who want to get fit in a nerd-friendly environment. Corrin had wrapped a thick rope around a heavy piece of workout equipment anchored to the wall. The supersized rope had plastic handles on each end to protect my hands from the pain and skin damage that can come from gripping the actual rope. Corrin instructed me to pick up both ends of the rope and keep my knees loose, then move the ropes up and down constantly in 30-second intervals.
It looked so easy when Corrin demonstrated, but when I tried it, I discovered that the heavy weight of the ropes created serious resistance. The resistance made this motion super-challenging to perform, and even more challenging to continue performing without resting or slowing down for 30 seconds. Although I was struggling to make it to the end of each interval, whipping and slamming these ropes into the ground was incredibly empowering and fun! Corrin showed me a variety of ways to use the ropes, varying the patterns of motion and executing them from both a standing and sitting position. She showed me how super-advanced ropers can use them in a plank position as well. I was working on moving both ropes up and down in tandem, as if I were driving a stagecoach, but I also tried alternating my arms up and down—a motion resembling a double-dutch jump-rope game for a giant.
At Nerdstrong, the trainers invent narrative-based workouts to make fitness more fun, and Corrin let me know that the battle ropes were perfect for a creating a Wonder Woman and an Indiana Jones-inspired workout. I definitely felt fierce and strong when I got into my battle-rope rhythm.
Move more, work your core
Working with the ropes allows for the ultimate muscle multi-tasking, because the activity conditions and strengthens abs, arm, shoulders, and legs all at once. In addition to working your core and building muscle mass, the act of maneuvering those heavy ropes burns about 10 calories a minute—more than burpees or squats—so you are also getting an aerobic experience as well! Fitness experts consider ten minutes of battle roping a vigorous aerobic workout, but it doesn’t strain and stress your body in the way that many other high-impact activities do. I have knee and hip injuries, so this activity was great for me because I could get some cardio without putting pressure on my joints. The ropes had me sweating and panting, but I didn’t hurt or have any pain afterward.
The ropes come in a variety of lengths and weights. Battle rope classes are popular in Los Angeles, and trainers and individuals are using them in gyms all over Hollywood. You can buy the ropes online and use them for home workouts as well, and there are YouTube videos that will lead you through battle-rope exercise routines.
Corrin shared why she loves using the ropes with her clients and in her classes at Nerdstrong and at HK Fitness in L.A. “While there’s definitely a focus on arms and shoulders, battle ropes require the whole body to be engaged. One of the challenges is to find the balance between tension and relaxation. They are a great way to get in a little cardio while maintaining intensity.” She told me that her favorite thing about battle ropes was the fun factor. “People have a good time with them and they shake things up a little. There are always lots of smiles when the ropes come out.” I have to agree that I found it really fun and stress-relieving.
If you’re looking for a fun new way to get a full-body workout, pick up a supersized rope and start making waves.