Let's be honest here; cardio can sometimes be boring. Of course, some people love cardio but for the rest of us, it’s a chore and something we’d rather skip altogether. The repetitive drudgery of cardio is why treadmills, bikes, steppers, and cross trainers are invariably placed in front of TV screens or that users plug in and tune out with MP3 players.

Thankfully, not all cardio is dull. In fact, there are some truly fun cardio workouts around; boxing and pad work, sledgehammer training, Cross Fit workouts – they all provide enjoyable, short, sharp, effective cardio workouts. However, getting access to these workouts is not always easy.

However, if you are looking for similarly fun workout that is readily available in many gyms as well as suitable for home, garden and garage gym use, look no further than battle ropes.

Battle ropes are long lengths of heavy manilla rope that are anchored at one end. They provide a high intensity full-body workout that is as entertaining as it is unique. They can be used as a cardio “finisher” after a weights workout or are also suitable for stand alone use. As an added bonus, all battle rope exercises really work your core too.

Whether you are a battle rope neophyte or have used this training tool before, here are TEN tried-and-tested battle rope exercises to try…

1. Double wave

This is a good exercise to start your battle rope workout with. With your feet wide and knees slightly bent, grasp the ends of the rope tightly and then rapidly raise and lower your arms to create waves. Keep your core braced and remember to breathe!

2. Alternating wave  

Using one arm at a time in an alternating fashion increases the core and coordination demand of this exercise. Raise one arm and lower the other at the same time. Keep going until you feel your form is beginning to deteriorate.

3. Alternating wave with lateral step or jump

While performing the alternating wave, step or jump from side to side to crank up your heart rate and burn more calories.

4. Low alternating wave

As above but drop down and hold a deep squat position to give your legs a good workout too.

5. Double arm slam

This full body exercise is tough but extremely satisfying. Raise the ropes above your head and then, using your whole, body slam them down into the floor, descending into a squat as you do. Try not to round your lower back as this can lead to injury.

6. Inward/outward circles

A great shoulder strengthener, this exercise is especially good for swimmers and boxers. With your arms extended in front of you, circle your arms inward or outward.

7. Front squats

Battle ropes are good for more than just your upper body! Grasp the ropes and hold them at shoulder-height. Step back to tension the ropes. With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and squat down without letting the tension out of the rope. Stand up and repeat.

8. Shoulder presses

This unusual exercise really works your shoulders and shoulder girdle. Grasp the ropes and hold them at shoulder-height. Step back to tension the ropes. Keeping your abs tight, push your hands up and over head. Push back as you push up to keep the tension on the ropes. Lower your hands and repeat.

9. Thrusters

Combine front squats with shoulder presses to produce a fabulous fat burner. Hold the ropes at shoulder-level and then squat down. Remember to keep the ropes tight. Stand up and then press your hands up and overhead. Lower your arms and descend into another squat. Keep going until your legs, arms and lungs are crying for mercy!

10. Claps

With a rope in each hand, move your arms in and out as though you were clapping your hands. This is a great chest and upper back exercise. Combine with a jump jack (jump your feet out and in) to make this exercise more demanding.

Battle rope workouts

Now you know ten great battle rope exercises, here are some sample workouts to try…


Set an interval timer for 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. Choose one battle rope exercise and then do eight sets. Four minutes later you’ll be done and probably amazed at how difficult a four-minute workout can be!

Tabata supersets

Double the exercises and double the fun! Choose two different exercises and alternate them for four-minutes using the 20 second work/10 second rest Tabata protocol.

Boxing intervals

This workout is so-called because each “round” lasts three-minutes which is the same length as a round of boxing. Choose six battle rope exercises and do each one for 30-seconds to total three-minutes. Rest for one minute and then repeat.

Deck of cards

Using a standard deck of cards, allocate one battle rope exercise to each suit. E.g.

  • Hearts – double arm slams
  • Diamonds – thrusters
  • Spades – inward circles
  • Clubs – low alternating wave

Shuffle the cards and then, one at a time, turn each card up. Do same number of reps indicated by the value of the card i.e. 7 of diamonds = 7 thrusters, 9 clubs = 9 low alternating waves. For picture cards, do 12 reps. Work your way through the entire pack until you’ve completed all the cards or, alternatively, you reach a predetermined time limit e.g. 20 minutes.

Battle ropes are very simple – there is nothing to go wrong with them after all – and very versatile. A great change of pace from more traditional cardio workouts, once you try battle ropes, you’ll never think of cardio as dull or mundane again!