By Bryan Smith (@Catalyst_SPT)
If you’ve ever watched one of those dark, slow-motion Reebok commercials, I’m sure you’ve seen this relatively new piece of training equipment that is quite literally just a thick braided rope. My clients and friends know that I am not one to jump on fitness bandwagons, nor do I adopt new fads or trends very easily, but after using a set of these ropes during a demonstration at a fitness conference a couple of years ago, I knew that these would be around for a while.
Battling ropes are an amazing form of upper-body training that provide cardiovascular benefits and can help you build endurance. Also, if you are someone who is recovering from a lower-body injury or if you destroyed your legs doing squats yesterday, picking up a set of these bad boys for your conditioning day is a great way to let your lower body recover while simultaneously tasting last night’s dinner.
When people are starting off, however, I often see that they have improper form or they are using too much momentum to complete the drumming (wave motion). The key with these ropes is to keep your upper body and core stable while keeping your lower body steady and your knees slightly flexed – like a generic hockey stance – so you shouldn’t be flailing about or moving your torso from side to side. This exercise is meant to challenge your core while building endurance through your upper extremities, not to make you look like you’re fighting Doctor Octopus. (C’mon fellow nerds, are you with me?)
The variations that can be explored using the ropes are endless. Okay, maybe they end at some point, but there are a lot of them. To get you started, try incorporating this circuit into your training routine. If you are feeling particularly angry at yourself, do the first three exercises from a seated position with your legs wide apart to use a bit more of your core with every movement.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the ropes in both hands. With alternating arms, start beating the ropes up and down. Try to get the waves to reach the end of the ropes in fast, small patterns.
Perform the same move as before, only this time move your arms together and create bigger waves.
Begin rotating your arms in large circles, moving one arm counter clockwise and the other clockwise.
Switch your grip to a thumbs-up grip on the ropes and perform uppercuts, slightly rotating through your hips on each rep.
Keep the thumbs-up grip on the ropes, holding them in closer to your chest, and pivot side to side. Keep your core stable, forcing rotation from the hips.
Many of my clients are always surprised at the difficulty and effectiveness of these ropes during their workouts and, if executed properly, the ropes will make you sweat more than Kim Kardashian at a spelling bee.