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Perfecting a good workout routine that balances aerobic, anaerobic and strength training is a great goal for all around fitness. However, sometimes your body settles into a rhythm and fewer gains are seen. Changing up your routine and incorporating different styles of workout are a great way to stimulate your systems. Unconventional workouts add a shock to your body by getting out of your normal routine. Try heavy ropes as a way to shock your muscles and build strength, power and endurance.

Heavy ropes or battle ropes as they are also known, are one of the most effective, high intensity, total body workouts you can do. They can also be a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) so popular for athletes these days. Battle rope workouts work the muscles in your upper body, abs, back, and glutes, and can incorporate movements, such as jumps, lunges, and squats, that work your legs, too. They are an innovative and dynamic way of training that stresses strength training but also incorporates aerobic and anaerobic movement. Research showed that a 10-minute bout of rope training resulted in high heart rates and energy expenditure that increases cardiorespiratory fitness (Fountaine and Schmidt, 2015).

One of the interesting factors in rope training is the ability to actually see through the movement of the ropes that you are doing the exercises correctly. By watching carefully maintaining your form and watching the resulting movement of the ropes you can increase the benefits of the exercise while decreasing risk of injury.

There are a few core movements to rope training:

Waves: The most common movement of rope training involves an alternating, asymmetrical pattern. Tucking your elbows into your sides, alternate pumping your arms up and down, creating alternate waves in the rope. Add difficulty to the exercise by switching to a double wave, where your arms move in tandem, also known as Whips.

Slams: This is a more aggressive rope movement with the primary direction of force down toward the ground. Lift both ends of the rope overhead, and then slam the rope down with full force onto the ground. As always, make sure to maintain good posture.

Circles: Move each arm in independent circles in front of you. You can rotate each arm outward or inward to work different muscle groups. You can also hold both hands together and make a single circle with both ends of the rope moving both clockwise, and then switching to counter-clockwise.

Flyes: Squat low and extend your arms to the side whipping each end of the rope in tandem, as if you’re flapping your arms like wings. Do not lock your elbows, but maintain a slight bend.

While these are some of the basic moves to rope training, more advanced techniques can be built in for those who have solidified their technique and are ready to add more dynamic moves to the workout. Variations incorporating lunges, squats and plyometric moves make the core moves more advanced and build in a further cardiovascular and strength component. Variations to the core moves can also be incorporated by changing up the type of grip being used on the ropes, overhand or underhand grips can be interchanged in some of the movements. Minor variations to the ropes can also increase intensity or resistance in the movements. The longer and thicker the rope, the more force you’ll need to use to make the waves. The slack allowed in the rope will also determine intensity. The closer you move to the anchor point, the more resistance you’ll be creating.

Benefits of Rope Training:

  • Battle ropes are a great cross-training exercise.
  • It is high intensity but low impact as the force is applied mostly to the muscles not the joints.
  • Research shows that rope training burns as much or even more calories than heavy resistance training, sprinting and high intensity interval training.
  • It works multiple muscles throughout the body including the upper body, core, and legs. A great total body workout.
  • You can pack a full workout into a short amount of time, as little as 15-20 minutes.
  • You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment, a couple of good heavy ropes and a solid anchor (can even be a tree or a pole) is all you need.
  • Great for strength, power, and endurance and Increases aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
  • It is easy to immediately adjust the workout intensity for individual needs, without having to adjust equipment.

Heavy ropes/Battle ropes are an increasingly popular way to add a dynamic component to training programs for athletes of all levels. As long as you maintain good technique you can shock your body into building more muscle strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness in a fun and innovative way.


Dack, D. (2015). Top 8 Battle Rope Exercises for Runners. Runner’s Blueprint.

Fountaine, CJ and Schmidt, BJ. (2015). Metabolic Cost of Rope Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; 29(4): 889-893.

Ross, J. (2015). Total-Body Battle Ropes Workout. American Council on Exercise.

Sanders, H. Everything You Need to Know About the Heavy Rope Workout Routine. Health Ambition.

Rodio, M. The Battle Ropes Workout. Men’s Fitness.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.