Work Up A Serious Sweat In 20 Minutes With This Battle Ropes Session

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Most gyms don’t have more than a couple of sets of battle ropes, so it’s fortunate that you don't need to spend a long time using them to get an effective workout that can build both strength and cardio fitness.

Of course, if you have your own gym you can spend a bit longer on the ropes. An hour even, which is the time that Rhian Cowburn, co-founder of Strong + Bendy gym, spent performing battle ropes waves. Not for nothing either – she set the women’s Guinness World Record for the move (while beating the men’s time too).

Most people don’t use the ropes for more than a few half-hearted waves before moving on, so we thought it would be great to ask Cowburn for a full workout on the ropes that hits every part of the body. Don’t worry if your local gym is closed – battle ropes are widely available to buy online. Try this Amazon own-brand set, or this one from Mirafit.

We’ll hand over to Cowburn to talk you through the workout.


Whatever you do, don’t go into a battle ropes workout without warming up. Choose a song and at the very least warm up for the whole length of the song. Lightly jogging on the spot and doing a few squats, lunges and shoulder rolls will do the trick. Make sure you also focus on warming up your wrists, as good battle ropes technique involves flicking your wrists.

Battle Ropes Workout

1 Alternating waves

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Quickly raise and lower the ropes, alternating between your right and left hand, making sure that each time your hand goes from hip to shoulder height or above.

2 Alternating waves, plus squat

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Create alternating waves as in exercise 1, but this time perform squats as you do so.

3 Double slam

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Hold the handles close to each other and in an explosive movement, bring the ropes upwards as high as you can as you jump up. When you land immediately come down into a squat position and slam the ropes downwards into the ground.

Russian twist

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor, holding the rope handles to one side. Slam the ropes from one side of your body to the other. If you can do this comfortably, lift your feet off the ground for added difficulty.

5 Alternating waves, plus reverse lunge

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Create alternating waves with the ropes while you step back into a deep lunge, alternating legs each time. This one really works on your co-ordination and focus as well as strength.

6 Plank wave

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

With the ropes on the floor laid out to full length, adopt a plank position with the handles underneath your shoulders. Make sure you have a wide stance with your legs for balance. Take hold of one handle and whip the rope up and down from the ground to shoulder height, while maintaining good plank form. Perform 20 seconds on one side and 20 on the other (allowing five seconds to swap sides).

7 Single-handed slam (right)

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Hold both ropes in your right hand. Put your right foot forwards and slightly turn your body towards the rope. Whip the ropes as high as you can using just your right hand and then slam them down. Your left hand can either be held out to the side for balance or behind your back out of the way.

8 Single-handed slam (left)

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

As exercise 7, but with your left hand and left foot forwards.

9 Triceps waves

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Perform alternating waves but grip the rope with your knuckles facing up rather than down. This will work your triceps more. You’ll really feel the burn!

10 Jumping jacks

Time 45sec Rest 15sec

Make sure you have plenty of slack in the ropes. Take hold of the ropes in the same way as you would to perform triceps waves, and do jumping jacks with the ropes in your hands. Make sure you take your arms out to full extension the same way you would if you were performing them without the ropes.

Endurance Finisher

Choose a song that’s between 2½ and five minutes long with a bpm of around 120. Perform alternating waves above shoulder height, sticking to the beat of the song for the duration.

Warm Down

If you don’t warm down and stretch out your shoulders, forearms, wrists and hamstrings after the above, you will regret it the next day, so make sure you always take the time to do so after even a short battle ropes blast. If you don't have a set routine, try this warm-down sequence.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.