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Battling RopesĀ® 102


In this second installment of the Battling Ropes® series, we are going to progress deeper into the training. I’ll introduce some new exercises and progressions to advance the velocity segment of the system and provide some guidelines and suggestions on starting to incorporate the Battling Ropes concepts into a successful program. The first installment, Battling Ropes® 101, gives you a basic introduction to the system along with beginning velocity exercises and basic sample workouts.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn more advanced movements and progressions for the exercises in the Battling Ropes velocity system to continue challenging your clients as they improve.
  2. Understand how and when to implement these progressions.
  3. Apply the concepts of the velocity system to create programming for different fitness and training goals using the included sample workouts as examples.

Most people are at least familiar with the velocity segment of the Battling Ropes system, and though there are some elements of exercise variables, cueing, positions, or movements that can be refined and improved, the basics of velocity training are widely understood. All of these exercises have the same basic intention and outcome – to create an impulse on the rope that travels down the length of the rope toward the attachment point. 

The ropes can do almost anything the hands can do, providing an almost infinite number of velocity exercises while also encouraging creativity and a freedom of movement not often found in traditional training methods. This great variety in exercise selection is great to keep clients engaged and coming back for more. 

On top of this great variety of exercises lies one of the best qualities of Battling Ropes. The system has no limits. Each concept in the system has endless progressions that allow for continuous advancement in difficulty and challenge.  The ropes are simple to learn but tough to master – each time you are able to take your rope training to the next level, there is always another level for which to reach.

Programming Variables

How Do I Measure Volume and Intensity?

The most common question about rope training is how to implement the ropes into a training program, including measuring intensity and assigning training volume. With any tool, it’s important to know how to scale appropriately for each client as well as how to manipulate the training variables to increase the challenge as they make progress in their training.

When it comes to overall training volume, the ropes can be used as just one exercise in your program, or can be a complete workout on their own. As an example, I run a 45-minute ropes class in my studio! I do include other exercises in the workouts, but the entire class is centered on the ropes.

In Battling Ropes 101, I discussed using time as a way to monitor training for the velocity exercises. Another option is using cadence to measure intensity.  Count the number of waves created in a set time period. Maintain that pace to maintain intensity, and increase or decrease that pace to change intensity. 

There isn’t necessarily a standard to meet, especially when it comes to working with a beginner. Cadences can vary widely, just like strength. What’s more important is that they are working to challenge their current ability level – this could mean the waves don’t travel very far down the rope or that they don’t move as quickly. As long as they are challenged and see progress with their training, this is what matters.

It is important to keep track of cadence when working with someone on building work capacity. As they build up their ability to sustain longer times on the velocity drills, ensure that they are striving to maintain their pace throughout the entire time. We don’t want their category 5 hurricane going down to a tropical depression!

With diligent training, a pace that can only be sustained for a minute in the early stages of training is the same pace that eventually can be sustained for 20 minutes and beyond! It’s amazing to watch or experience what happens as the body adapts. 

Like anything, with continued training, what was once challenging becomes easier – and this carries over into anything else you want to do. As this happens, you’ll need to understand how to progress the exercises in order to still provide an appropriate challenge for your clients.

What Progressions Can I Use to Increase the Difficulty of the Ropes?

The progressions in the system are simple to implement but can challenge any ability level. Simple things such as changing body position or grip can increase the challenge as will adding in a lower body movement. Let’s explore some of the different ways difficulty can be increased in the velocity segment of Battling Ropes.

Grip VariationDouble Grip

In addition to the underhand and overhand grip, you can also hold the rope in a way that challenges your grip strength and increases the difficulty of all of the velocity movements. Simply take the end of the rope and fold it over.  Grab the doubled rope and perform any of the velocity exercises. You’ll immediately see how challenging this is but also how much stronger your grip will become.

Position Variation

Another way to increase the difficulty of the velocity training is to change your body position. If you perform the velocity exercises in a kneeling or seated position, you’ll find that to maintain your wave, you have to move the rope with more speed and intensity than in a standing position. This happens because as you move closer to the ground, the waves have a smaller amplitude, so in order to keep the waves traveling to the attachment point, you have to move faster!

Kneeling Position Variations:

Sitting Position Variations:

Total Body Movement

Introducing lower body movement to the velocity exercises takes the training to an entirely new level. Even the most coordinated individuals often have difficulty finding their rhythm in the beginning, but usually improve quickly. As you work to move both the arms and legs quickly and independently in a coordinated fashion, the demands on the body increase dramatically. Even a simple movement like marching in place is significantly more taxing on the system.

Exercises

The following exercises are examples of combining the velocity movements with lower body movement to increase the challenge. These are just examples – any of the velocity movements could be coupled with any lower body movement and you can certainly create your own combinations.

  1. Double Waves with Marching in Place
  2. Alternating Waves with Jogging in Place
  3. Arm Sidewinders with Sidesteps
  4. Body Sidewinders with Touch-backs
  5. Outward Circles with Squatting
  6. Crossovers with Lunging

How Often Should I Use the Ropes?

The important thing to remember is that the ropes are simply a tool. Their versatility allows you to use them as little or as much as you like, especially the velocity movements. It’s possible to program battling rope training on a daily basis, though be sure to monitor your intensity. Allow for enough recovery between higher intensity sessions and keep those sessions to once a week for a true beginner, and maybe 2-3 times per week for those with more training experience.

Program Design and Sample Workouts

As you understand how to adjust the training variables – load, volume and intensity, you can begin to program the ropes into your workouts either for general fitness or to focus on a specific goal. Simply change the duration of work, intensity and recovery to match your training emphasis, and then use the endless progressions in the system to match your client’s needs. 

Depending on your training emphasis and client’s ability and fitness level, your work to rest ratios will vary just as they would with any other type of training.  For a greater cardio emphasis, you will work longer and rest less and for anaerobic endurance, conditioning and speed work, you will work for shorter intervals and rest a little longer.

The following workouts are a great place to start when implementing the Battling Ropes into your training programs. You can use these as templates – substituting the various velocity, cardio, bodyweight and strength training movements to create your own versions as well as using the principles to build your own unique workouts.

Work Capacity

Adding longer rope intervals (5-10 minutes and more) into a warm up or cool-down, or even on an active recovery day, is a great way to work on building work capacity and increasing your time on the rope. (Refer to the first article, Battling Ropes 101, for sample work capacity workouts.)

Cardiovascular Emphasis

Combining velocity movements together or with a cardiovascular exercise such as running or biking (or even simply walking) with little to no rest allows for a cardio emphasis session without as much pounding on the lower body. A full rope circuit is also great way for an athlete or client to incorporate an additional cardio training day without the toll on the joints. As clients progress, increase the work time and decrease the rest time.

Sample Velocity/Cardio Ropes Combination 

Perform one set of each exercise in order – alternating between a velocity movement and a lower body cardiovascular movement for 3-6 total sets.

For this workout, I selected 3 velocity movements that will be repeated with each set. You could also use any of the velocity exercises mentioned above that incorporate lower body movement.

Exercise

Work Time

Rest Time

Sets

Double wave

20-60s

0-30s

3-6

Choice of: Bike/jog/run/walk

20-60s

0-30s

3-6

Kneeling body sidewinders

20-60s

0-30s

3-6

Bike/jog/run/walk

20-60s

0-30s

3-6

Seated alternating waves

20-60s

0-30s

3-6

Bike/jog/run/walk

20-60s

0-30s

3-6

Speed and Speed Endurance

Strive to move the ropes as fast as possible the entire time – this is a max effort!  Work intervals will be shorter – just as you would decrease reps in traditional training when intensity increases. For pure speed, take a longer rest between sets. The overall goal is to be able to work harder and move the ropes faster and faster and then work to maintain that speed throughout the sets. 

Exercise

Work Time

Rest Time

Sets

Speed alternating waves

10-30s

10-60s

3-8

Anaerobic Endurance, Conditioning, Fat Loss and General Fitness

There are plenty of options within the Battling Ropes system when training for anaerobic endurance and conditioning, or just to improve overall fitness. The following workouts are just a few examples of combining different training elements to create the desired training effect.

Velocity with Movement at Max Effort

Similar to the speed work, these would be performed with a max effort on every set. Adding in the lower body movement dramatically increases the intensity, making them a great choice for anaerobic endurance and conditioning as well as a great fat burner! Think “fast hands, fast feet!” 

When clients are ready for it, I like using a 20s on/10s off interval. With a beginner, start with more rest time and less work time and slowly alternate between increasing the work interval and decreasing the rest interval as they progress.

Exercise

Work Time

Rest Time

Sets

Speed alternating waves

with march/jog/run in place

10-30s

10-60s

3-8

Velocity/Stability Rope Combinations

Performing a velocity movement in combination with a stability movement increases the challenge on stability while also providing an active recovery between velocity movements. Alternate between the two exercises until all sets are completed.

Combo 1:

Exercise

Work Time

Rest Time

Sets

Alternating waves

(with optional march)

20-30s

0-30s

3-6

Plank hold

20-30s

0-30s

3-6

Combo 2:

Exercise

Work Time

Rest Time

Sets

Outward circles

(with optional side steps)

20-30s

0-30s

3-6

Side plank hold

20-30s

0-30s

3-6

Conclusion

These sample exercises and workouts are a great starting point to create your own exercises and combinations based on the principles of Battling Ropes.  Use the variations in grip, position and movement to increase the difficulty as needed.

The versatility and variety within the system allows you to create numerous unique rope workouts that can easily be adapted for any client, while the endless progressions continue to challenge them and keep them engaged as they make progress.