Required Equipment: Battle Rope
After researching and buying I’ve been spent the last month using battle ropes as well. While the general benefits are known, I wanted to give some impressions of the real-life battle rope benefits that I noticed after just 30 days of use. These were unexpected benefits after using the rope for just a short period of time.
And here’s the rope I ended up purchasing:
Note, during this time period, I only used the rope 2-3 times per week and generally only for “finishing” moves. In other words, I did some HIIT 1High Intensity Interval Training style Tabata intervals for multiple sets at the end of my workout. I did do some light warm-ups with the rope before my full workout and before the finishers. So, without further ado, here are the 7 most surprising battle ropes benefits after 30 days of use:
AT A GLANCE: - I used the battle ropes for 30 days, 2-3x a times a week - Battle ropes are a tough and yet kind of fun exercise - These are the top 7 benefits of battle ropes that I experienced - In my experience, the battle ropes do have some carryover to athletic endeavors and sports such as boxing
1. Increased Grip Strength
I knew gripping a rope and moving (or slamming) it would work my grip. However, I wasn’t expecting the level to which my grip was actually worked. It’s more of a sustained challenge to your grip as opposed to a peak challenge, like using the Captains of Crush.
To, me the grip effect is similar to using a heavy kettlebell and doing swings repeatedly. No matter the comparison, though, it tested my grip.
If you use a bigger rope (I used a 1.5″ rope instead of a 2″) or have smaller hands it’ll be even tougher. If you’re involved with an activity that requires grip strength – such as Judo, BJJ, or even rock climbing – a rope is a great way to get in some additional accessory work.
2. Better Shoulder Stability and Strength
Full disclosure – I have “bad” shoulders. My mobility is pretty poor and I have some general weakness in my rotator cuff muscles. I even had a “winged scapula” at one point which, I’m sure, hasn’t helped. I’ve even used things such as the BodyBlade to help restore strength.
With all that said, with the exception of hands-on physical therapy 2shout out to Scott, the rope has done as much as anything to help with my shoulder girdler stability and strength. With free weights I’ve definitely had to be more careful in which shoulder exercises I perform due to some discomfort. With battle ropes, I never had any pain or aches.
If you’re into your looks 3and who isn’t?, my shoulders are definitely more cut than just 30 days ago. In fact, I highly prefer the rope over some shoulder exercises (like front or side raises) that always seemed to be uncomfortable while not changing the aesthetics of my shoulder.
3. Better Shoulder Mobility
Along the same lines, I have a slightly better range of motion in my shoulders. It’s definitely not a replacement to dedicated shoulder mobility work but I did notice an improvement and it was pretty unexpected.
Personally, I think my shoulder positioning ended up being better overall (not rounded) due to the increased work load. The ROM improvements and positioning, along with the additional strength, has led to less shoulder discomfort in general.
If you’re a boxer or kick boxer, the increased stamina and strength also translates to being able to throw more punches…it’s a win-win. I think it would also have carryover to a number of other sports that heavily involve your shoulders.
4. Stronger Bench Press
It’s well-known that shoulder instability can lead to bench press problems. So with better shoulder stability and strength, I found my bench press was improved. While I didn’t max, I would estimate at least a 10% improvement. Again, that’s not because the rope worked my chest but because I had a more stable and stronger shoulder that allowed me to press more weight.
5. Core Activation
Depending on the movement – slams, for example – I experienced quite a bit of core activation. The more strict my form on the movements, the more core activation I felt. While I never got sore working with the rope 4which I consider a good thing overall, I did notice some improvements to my core. They weren’t vast improvement but it’s something I noticed.
I don’t think the rope should replace dedicated core work – it’s certainly not a toes to bar level of core engagement – but it’s a good way to get some additional work in without even trying.
6. Larger Arms
This may be the most surprising of all the battle rope benefits. Namely, my arms were definitely larger and more defined after just 30 days of using battle ropes.
Now, I don’t do any dedicated arm work currently which probably contributed to my arm development (i.e. if you already do dedicated arm work, you might not get the same benefit). I don’t have a strict measurement but I probably gained 1/4″ in just 30 days.
If you’re doing dedicated arm work because you want big arms, this isn’t a replacement for it. However, it can be a supplement to that additional work. And if you don’t care about your arm size, the rope will add to it without any extra targeted work.
7. Increased Cardio
Even if with minimal use, I did notice some increased cardio and stamina. Now, there are a couple caveats. The more highly trained you are, the less likely you’re going to make a difference in just a month. The other caveat is – you have to go hard. That goes if you’re highly trained or not. Of course, hard is a relative term – what’s hard for me might not be hard for you.
Either way, though, if you’re doing true Tabata-style intervals you need to go full out for that period. For me, I mainly stuck to a 20 seconds work period, 10 second rest period cadence. You can obviously vary that but it’s hard to go all out 5at least for me beyond a 20-30 seconds work interval.
As a general rule, stick with a short but intense work periods and an ever shorter rest periods over multiple sets (5-8) if you want an increase in VO2 max.
Summing up the battle rope benefits…
One of the cool things about ropes is that it can only return some of the energy you put into them. That makes it easy on your joints and makes it super easy to vary the intensity. Too easy? No problem, just go harder. Too difficult? Immediately ease up so you can make it to the end of the interval. That’s not something you can duplicate with a lot of other training tools.
So, the last battle rope benefit is one that I never gave much thought to before…but the rope is actually fun to use. At least, it’s fun until you’re gassed. That may not be a big deal to most people, but it does make it easier to do the work necessary to get in shape. All in all, I love the battle rope and I’m more impressed by it than I thought I would be. Happy training.