By Sean Zucker –
Using battle ropes may look badass but are they really an effective workout? Many experts claim yes when done properly. The problem: they rarely are.
Strong Fitness Magazine notes that when executed properly, battle ropes are an ultra-effective means of whipping yourself into shape. It notes that the high-speed, high intensity movements ramp up cardiovascular capacity quickly, while improving timing and coordination. Additionally, with the forearms, biceps, triceps and shoulders moving at such high speeds under tension, you can burn loads of calories in a short period of time, as well as burning fat and building muscle simultaneously. However, if done incorrectly, chances are it’s a big waste of time.
As battle ropes have exploded in popularity, Vice boldly states that most people don’t know how to use them. The widespread misunderstanding, according to Vice, stems from battle ropes being used as a fad workout, which actuality winds up traumatizing the shoulders. The users gain little more than looking cool with all this swaying and flailing about. The issue seems be twofold – bad form and misguided goals. “Most people think of the rope as an aerobic tool for the upper body…You can train power, you can train strength, you can build lean body mass, and you can build aerobic capacity with the rope. You just need to understand how to vary your position, the rope, and all the different variables to generate your maximum expenditure of force.” Aaron Guyett, Master Battle Rope Trainer at Onnit and founder of Innovative Results, told Vice.
He also went on to caution that impact battle ropes can deliver a big negative number on shoulders and knees when used incorrectly.
So, what’s the trick to avoid these common mistakes? Men’s Health offers a great start, listing a few training rules for battle ropes newbies. The first of which is to move in many directions instead of just waving the ropes up and down. By altering movement, such as going side to side, the exercise will place more emphasis on hips and core and build total-body stability. The site also notes moving the ropes in a circular gesture will improve shoulder mobility and range of motion, boosting athleticism and reduce risk of injury.
Men’s Health also recommended adjusting the resistance, as the amount of slack in the rope determines the weight. Altering the resistance can either increase or decrease the intensity of the workout, better matching it to the user’s experience level. The site also highlights the importance of switching up battle rope workouts to avoid muscle redundancy.
“Battling ropes are useful tools, but you won’t get anywhere if you just flail away aimlessly,” it says.
Ultimately, no one wants to get roped in by bad form.