Beginners Guide to Battle Ropes

(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

The battle ropes are a workout staple, but what is the best way to get started? This post introduces you to the basics of this great workout tool and provides some tips on how to use them.

The battle rope has been around since the early 1980s when it was developed by former US Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick. In recent years, they have become popular among athletes looking for intense full-body exercise with minimal equipment. Battle ropes can be used in a variety of ways from whole-body exercises such as swings or slams, upper body exercises such as rows or pull-ups, and lower body exercises such as squats. For those new to fitness who want something that will push their limits without requiring much time commitment, give battle ropes a try.

The battle rope is essentially a long, thick piece of woven cable that is attached to a handle on each end. The handles typically have grips that help you maintain your grasp during even the most intense workouts.

The benefits of using battle ropes include:

  • High calorie burn – One 30 minute routine can burn 500+ calories. And since you are in constant motion, you keep burning calories long after the workout has finished.
  • Easy on your joints – You don’t need to go to the gym for this workout because battle ropes are simple and effective enough to do anywhere.
  • Functional movement – Many of us spend our days sitting in front of computers or driving in cars without moving much. Ethically using battle ropes helps stretch out tight muscles in different parts of your body while strengthening others all at once.
  • Fun! – So many people experience a high from using battle ropes they end up adoring them even though they were initially intimidated by what look like heavy pieces of rope tied together with big knots.

So Let’s Get Started!

BAttle Rope Training with Wayne MutataGet your ropes: There are two options for getting battle ropes; tying raw, loose ends of rope together or buying pre-tied ropes. Either way, work equally well and the choice is ultimately yours. For those new to fitness products such as these can be expensive so if you aren’t sure whether you’ll like it or continue using it, opt for a cheaper version which you can easily replace if it’s not ideal.

Get your hands on some towels – You will need something to protect your hands from rope burn when doing slams and lifts with them so having a few towels around will come in handy.

Find a workout space: Find a space that is clear of furniture and other heavy objects that might get tipped over during use (if you are at home). Then have a go at it!

The Workout: A beginner’s battle ropes workout will usually consist of the following exercises, but feel free to add your own twist or remove a few if you need to. The most important thing is that you have fun and push yourself in every exercise.

Warm-up: Don’t forget to get warmed up before doing battle ropes.


Let’s Begin!

When starting ropes for the first time begin with 30 seconds of work and 20 seconds rest, 5 times. If your intermediate I would suggest a setup like Tabata (eight 20 second rounds, each followed by 10 seconds of rest). For those of you that have been in the rope game for a while try a 3 to 1 ratio e.g. 1 minute round with 20 seconds rest, 5 times. There are so many combinations you can use.

Below are some of the most common Battle Rope Movements:


Battle Ropes Movement 1 – Two-handed slams aka ‘Hulk Smashes’

These need to be done at a slower pace due to their longer range of motion. The focus behind these is just pure raw power. When doing these you want to keep the ropes just inside shoulder width then raise them above eye level and “slam” them down while squatting down slightly and hinging at the waist as the ropes hit the ground and repeat. The goal of these is to target your explosive energy system while hitting your abs and core.

Michael "No Mercy" Serrano


Battle Ropes Movement 2 – Alternating waves aka ‘Machine gun Kelly’s’

This is the most common way of doing the battling ropes. Holding the end of the ropes literate waving the ropes one arm at a time. These are all about speed hence the nickname ‘Machine Guns” the goal is to create as many waves as you can in the time you’re doing a set for. I like to use these after working front delta as the movement focuses on them. These are also great if you want to help tone the delts without direct impact or trauma in the case of boxing.

Battle Ropes


Battle Ropes Movement 3 – Double Dutch aka ‘Tornadoes’

These bad boys call for you to wave your arms in large circles for speed. Your right arm will move clockwise and your left arm will move counterclockwise. Two things will begin to happen the rope will show ‘spirals ‘or ‘loops’ moving toward the point of anchor this is normal so don’t panic. I like this movement because of the added ancillary work for the smaller external rotators of the shoulder.

Battle Ropes meme

Battle Ropes Movement 4 – Lateral Waves aka ‘Tsunamis’

We can’t have a complete list without hitting the rear delts. Lateral waves place a great amount of tension on them. Hold the ropes out straight in front of you at shoulder height, bend your knees and clap your arms together. The effect is even more drastic when you drive your elbows back on each rep. Keep your chest ups as you whip the rope forward and back. Make sure you use a full range of motion on each wave while making sure the ropes do not overlap.

battle rope guide for beginners

Battle Ropes Movement 5 – Rope Jack aka ‘Jack Hammers’

Think jumping jack except your holding the ropes with your palms facing in. These can be done in two ways; the first is facing the anchor point of the ropes to work the front delt. The second is facing away from the ropes while holding them and doing a jack facing away from the anchor point for the rear delt. I personally have my clients alternate between the two to help create balance. When doing the jumping jack make sure that ropes do not cross at the top of the movement.


Wrap Up

Conclusion paragraph: By now, you should be ready to start your own battle ropes workouts. The exercises we’ve outlined for beginners are a great way to get started and just might have been the motivation you needed to take on this new fitness regimen. Now that you know what it feels like to build up some sweat equity with these quick-paced workouts, go ahead and give them a try at home or in the gym! Remember – consistency is key when working out so make sure to show up every day if possible. If not, don’t worry – there’s always tomorrow!

Wayne Mutata