Adding something new to a fitness routine is always a tough choice to make. Especially if you know what you’re doing is working. While strict routines are good for motivation, they can get boring fast. And then you may find you’ve stopped pushing yourself.
And that’s where alternatives like battle ropes, slam balls, resistance bands, and others come in handy. Battle ropes might look strange initially, but they’re a full body workout that shakes things up. From moms to MMA, battle ropes are becoming integral to many peoples fitness routines. If you’re interested in an intense, full-body, and speedy workout, battle ropes may be for you.
Deciding whether to add something to a regimen often comes down to price. Exercise equipment can be expensive, and no one wants to waste money on something that won’t use.
While commercial battle ropes can often get pricey, they’re easy to DIY for home use. We have the solution. Battle ropes are a head-to-toe workout that require power and dynamism. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, then we can guide you on how to make your own and save money.
What are battle ropes?
If you’ve been to any gym lately you can probably immediately picture what we’re talking about when we say ‘battle ropes’. You might have seen someone in the corner snaking ropes up and down, or waving them across the floor. While this looks intriguing, you may be struggling to understand how it constitutes an exercise routine.
Battle ropes are a relatively new piece of fitness equipment, and they took a while to catch on. Why? Well, let’s be honest, they seem a little strange. Even the highest intensity battle rope routine can seem like a game from the outside.
After a while, however, people started to notice that maybe those MMA fighters and Olympic wrestlers were on to something. When John Brookfield invented the battle rope system in 2006 he first taught it to Special Forces and the Cincinnati Bengals.
So it’s inevitable that soon the fitness community were going to start paying attention. Now, battle ropes have found their way into gyms across the country – and they’re starting to turn up in home gyms as well.
For those who aren’t aware, battle ropes are lengths of thick and heavy rope. When moved, they offer resistance. The trick to using them is to get the entire length to move. A battle rope work-out goes fast, but you feel the benefits straight away.
Why use battle ropes?
Using battle ropes is a workout for your entire body. With a simple training session, you’ll work out your back, shoulders, arms, and chests.
They also benefit your abs and grip as well. By incorporating jumps and squats, your legs get trained too. There are so many movements possible with battle ropes, every part of the body can be tested.
A session with battle ropes increases your heart rate and burns calories. In fact, you burn more fat using battle ropes than running, and in less time. With regular use you’ll find your muscles are toned and strengthened, and endurance improves as well.
Not to mention, they’re easier on the joints than more traditional weight training. This makes them ideal for long-term usage.
Another benefit to battle ropes is they train both sides of the body at once. A battle rope routine is even, so you won’t put pressure over one set of muscles over the other. If you find yourself favoring one arm when lifting, then battle ropes can be a way to improve that.
Battle ropes use dynamic movement, forcing you to act and react. A session with the battle ropes will leave you feeling pumped, but also engaged. If you’ve found yourself growing bored with adjustable dumbbells, then battle ropes may offer the solution.
Incorporating Battle ropes Into a Fitness Regimen
Battle ropes are designed to be used quickly and forcefully. The movements are performed at speed, and with a high level of intensity. Without this, the ropes become cumbersome and difficult to use.
This speed makes them ideal for incorporating into a routine. If you’re short of time, a battle rope routine can burn calories and strengthen muscles fast. They’re ideal for people looking to add something more to a workout.
For HIIT, (high intensity interval training), battle ropes are perfect. Each movement is brisk but intense, with a break afterwards. If you already have a HIIT circuit in place, battle ropes can be used as an addition, or a replacement of a set that no longer works for you.
Although they may look bulky, battle ropes are easily transportable. When not in use they can be quickly curled up like regular ropes. You can incorporate them into your every day routine, no matter where that takes place.
Incorporating Battle Ropes Into a Home Workout
Hopefully, by now you’re getting interested in the idea of using a battle rope. Which may mean you’re wondering when you’ll get a chance to head to the gym. Luckily, battle ropes can be used at home workout.
Although you need some space, it’s not as much as you may at first assume. The standard length of a battle rope is 50 feet, but smaller ones are available for 30 feet. You can even go as small as 10 feet.
Once anchored, the length is reduced in half. So for a 50-foot rope, each hand holds 25 feet. The longer the rope the better the workout, but a shorter rope still makes a good exercise. Especially for beginners.
Then all you need is an anchor, and you’re ready to go. For anyone with a garden, you’re likely to have an anchor ready for use already.
Are battle ropes expensive?
Battle ropes can cost anywhere between $50 and $250. It depends on the weight, thickness, length, and material. Cheaper options tend to not include the anchor, which you need to buy separately.
While the initial price may not be much, battle ropes don’t have a very long life. Especially when used regularly, and for high intensity workouts.
Even the best ropes will start to fray from regular usage. If you’ve decided to buy cheap, you may find yourself needing a replacement sooner than you think.
Don’t let the price point put you off. The good thing is, battle ropes are incredibly easy to DIY. As long as you have the weight and the length, a home battle rope is as good as any you can buy. And all for a fraction of the cost.
If you’re interested in the benefits they provide, but don’t want to spend too much, then read on for how to make your own.
DIY Battle Ropes
Old garden hoses are an item many of us keep around ‘just in case’. We might not know what we’re planning to do with them, but we know we don’t want to trash them and end up regretting it.
Thankfully, we’ve found a use at last. A garden hose is a surprisingly useful replacement for battle ropes, and one easy to pick up for cheap.
Even if you don’t have an old hose lying around, they’re easy to buy. From a hardware store, you can buy a garden hose for as little as $15. 50 feet long is standard for a battle rope, so look for a hose of the same length.
None of the attachments are necessary either, so you can really grab a bargain.
Garden Hose, Water Hose, Upgraded 50ft Flexible Pocket Expandable Garden Hose
How to Use a Garden Hose as a Battle Rope
You may be feeling unsure of just how useful a garden hose will be at strength training. When you use it around the garden, it hardly seems heavy at all. That’s not surprising, because the weight of it is mostly left on the ground.
However, when using a battle rope you work out by using the entire length of it. Keeping a garden hose fully in motion takes a surprising amount of energy.
The movements need to be strong and exaggerated, for the entire 50 feet. Even if you work out regularly, for your first time using a battle rope you may find the weight of the hose itself is more than enough.
To use, it’s as simple as anchoring the hose and finding a routine. Anchors are easy to find, with the most common DIY choice being a tree. Anything that keeps the battle rope from flying away with each movement.
You may also want to add ‘handles’ to the hose to make it easier to grip. Just wrap duct tape around each end to create an area to grip about 8 inches wide. Whether this is necessary depends on the material of your hose. It’s only to ensure your hands don’t slip.
Of course, we want to use our battle ropes to get stronger. After a while, you should find the garden hose alone doesn’t present much resistance. Depending on your strength already, this may not take very long.
To improve the workout it’s as simple as adding weight to the hose. There are some bodyweight exercise to be done at home by all alone. The best way to do that? Sand. A bag of play sand won’t set you back much at all, but takes your workout up several levels.
PlaySand 50 Pounds
The only problem is it can be tricky to do. Make sure the sand is as dry as possible before using. Duct tape one end of the hose securely to keep the sand from leaking out. If you have a funnel, use this to make filling easier. Be sure to shake down the sand for even distribution. When it’s full, secure the other end and anchor your hose.
A 50ft hose will take roughly 10 to 20 pounds of sand, depending on the hose thickness. You should immediately notice the difference when you start exercising.
An even quicker option is to use water. Cap one end of the hose, fill it up, and then cap the other end.
Filling the hose may take a while, but when it’s done, it’s done. For almost no money at all you’ve made a long-lasting battle rope.
Using a fire hose as a battle rope is slightly more effort, but in turn you get greater results.
Even better? You can probably find one for free.
Fire departments need to decommission the hoses after a few years of use. At this point, they become nothing but annoyances.
Try giving your local fire station a call and see if they have any lying around. If they do, they’ll probably be more than happy to give it to you for free. Then you have a battle rope for the cost of a phone call.
How to Use a Fire Hose as a Battle Rope
There are slightly more steps to using a fire hose than a garden hose, but the end result is worth it.
When you have your fire hose you may notice heavy metal caps at either end. These need to be removed before use, or they can cause damage. Just get a hacksaw and cut them away.
Once the caps have been removed you need to make a handle you can grip. Fire hoses are flatter than regular hoses, so you have to make something to hold on to. Bend the last 8 or so inches of either end of the hose in half, and duct tape around to create an easily gripped handle.
For an extra boost, you can add padding. The grip is essential, so your workout can be focused on movement, and not on constantly readjusting your hands.
Find an anchor, and you’re ready to go.
A fire hose is heavy and difficult to maneuver, so for a while you may be happy to use as is. In fact, when you first pick it up you may be wondering why you’d ever want to make it heavier.
As training goes on, you’ll find it starts to offer less and less resistance. This is when you need to add weight.
Doing this for a fire hose is similar to filling a garden hose, only easier. First you’ll need to remove the duct tape from one end, then funnel in the sand. The opening to a fire hose is larger than a garden hose, so the process is much quicker.
You still want to make sure the whole thing is filled evenly, though. An improperly filled hose will weight the rope in favor of one side over the other. When you fill a hose simply continue to shake and pat down.
A fire hose may be able to take more sand than a garden hose, but a standard 50 pound bag should be more than enough.
This really does add on a lot of weight, so don’t do it until you’re sure you’re ready. It’s worth it though, if you want a really complete workout.
If you are able to get your hands on more than one fire hose, you can always fill one up and leave the other empty. This way, you can alter the workout to fit your needs.
While hoses are the best option, they aren’t the only option. For a more traditional choice, you can make your own battle rope using rope itself.
Head down to your local hardware store and see what they have for sale. A battle rope is typically 1.5 to 2 inches in width and fifty feet long, so look for ropes of a similar proportion.
Alternatively, some people prefer to choose two or three narrower ropes and braid them together. This is a time-consuming process, but does create a sturdier rope. It’s worth duct taping the rope every foot or so along, to prevent it from unraveling.
Other than hardware stores, try local marina supply shops. If you have climbing centers nearby, try giving them a call and see if they have any old ropes available. You could get lucky.
How to Use Rope to Make a Battle Rope
Once you have a rope of the desired thickness, you need to create a handle. Without this, they’ll be very difficult to grip. Especially as you start sweating. It ruins the workout if you have to stop regularly to readjust your hold.
Making a handle simply involves wrapping duct tape around either end, again to around 8 inches. This also prevents the rope from fraying, so it lasts longer.
Another way to prevent fray with a nylon or plastic rope is to burn the ends. All you need is a lighter or torch, and you can easily melt the ends together. Do this outside, as the smell can be bad.
Commercial battle ropes often have the rope covered to prevent obvious fray. Duct taping at intervals is a way to create a similar effect at home.
Now, you’re ready to go. Simply anchor your rope.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to add weight to your rope. Depending on your rope this may not be an issue.
However, there are ways to change the difficulty.
A large part of the success of battle rope is due to the length. It’s difficult to keep 50ft of rope in motion, and to get it moving all the way to an anchor point.
When purchasing rope, you shouldn’t think of how to add weight. Instead, start by purchasing a long and heavy rope you can decrease the length of. When anchoring your rope, wrap it several times around your anchor point to shorten the length. Then, as you get used to it, you can increase the difficulty by unwrapping the rope.
When wrapping, be sure to do so evenly. You want to be holding the same amount of rope in either hand.
Creating an Anchor
You can’t use a battle rope without an anchor, but these are easy to DIY. All you need is something heavy that can hold your rope in place.
The most common choice is to wrap the rope around a tree or pole. Any sort of column shape that the rope can be looped around. If you have a carabiner you can clip this to hooks and bars and thread the rope through.
If you already have weights, these can be used to create an anchor. Add free weights to a basket to create a solid anchor. Threading the rope through a kettlebell can be effective, although you may need to add sandbags to keep it secure. If you have several dumbbells, you can wrap the rope through and under them for an easy anchor.
For those with a home gym, a battle rope can be anchored to heavy gym equipment.
It may take some time to find an anchor that works for you. Experiment with what you have to find something that feels secure and allows good movement. Whatever you use as an anchor, give the rope a few test moves first to make sure it won’t go flying.
The height of the anchor is also personal preference. 3 feet off the floor is standard, but closer to ground level can work depending on the moves you do.
You can also buy battle rope anchors, but knowing how to DIY them is another way to save money.
It may be that you’re curious about battle ropes, but don’t want to commit to making your own. Especially if you don’t have a garden hose lying around.
If you’re just interested in trying out the movements, use a bedsheet. This gives you a sense of what muscles will be worked out, without the heavy resistance of a rope. Especially for those trying to start a fitness regime, this is a low pressure exercise.
Not everyone wants to DIY. If you’re interested in battle ropes but aren’t bothered by the price, they’re easy to buy at any sports retailer.
Alternatively, see what your local gym has available. Battle ropes are becoming increasingly common in even the smallest gyms. If you like to give equipment a try before committing, call your local gyms to see what options there are.
If you do want to buy your own battle ropes, then there are a few features to look out for.
I’ve created a comprehensive battle rope great guide, including which features and materials you want to look for. Also, if you’re looking to buy one, here are some of the top battle rope choices on Amazon with some budget options thrown in.
Second-hand and Used
If you can’t swing the money to buy a new rope, you can also have a look for second-hand battle ropes. However, we’d urge caution.
Battle ropes wear through with use, so if you’re buying second-hand it may not have a long life left.
Is it worth making my own battle rope?
Maybe, because it’s so cheap and easy to do. By making your own you have a chance to test out the movements before committing to an expensive piece of equipment that you may not end up using.