First and foremost, Jake Wood has written this blog about the basics of rope training to help educate readers and enlighten like-minded individuals to share the benefits and knowledge of battle rope training. This blog is not aimed at brainwashing anybody into assuming that this style of unconventional training is the only way to get in shape.
So how effective is this training method? The battle rope system was developed in the United States by legendary strength and endurance athlete John Brookfield, who is renowned for his unconventional training methods with professional athletes. The wave-like movements look very impressive but are they effective for bootcamp training? The answer is “Yes” – only if you are performing exercises correctly to deliver an effective workout which will develop your athletic performance, and increase your strength, fitness, and power. A study by Dr Charles Fountaine and Dr Brad Schmidt (University of Minnesota and Creighton University, USA) to evaluate the “metabolic cost” of rope training found some great outcomes which will benefit any individual who gets on the ropes. In simple terms, when explaining the “metabolic cost” I like to think of how much acceleration do you need to when driving your car uphill for 1 mile. The more acceleration required equals a greater “metabolic cost” because your car engine needs to work harder or in this case your body needs to work harder to the achieve the same outcome as driving for 1 mile on a nice flat road. This should require less acceleration and less “metabolic cost” on the car engine when driving on the flat.
Despite limited research into rope training in comparison to mainstream physical activity such as running, swimming, and cycling this recent study by Fountaine and Schmidt proved the following:
Time Efficient Metabolic Training – When training with battle ropes this produces impressive metabolic results in a limited time. You can complete an intense whole body workout in only 10 minutes. Believe me when I say 20 seconds can feel like an eternity.
This unconventional style of bootcamp training demands more oxygen and elevates excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) more than many other forms of traditional training.
This makes it highly effective for achieving fat loss, as well as increasing strength, fitness, and power which help improve your athletic performance. In simple terms, when explaining “EPOC” this takes me back to the analogy I previously used when driving your car but this time we don’t accelerate the car engine. We simply roll down the other side of the hill and as the road becomes nice and flat again, the further our car can travel before it stops without using the car engine to accelerate represents a greater “EPOC”. In this case the greater “EPOC” the better.
Postural Chain and Core – despite the volume of upper-body strength to power up the wave-like movements this still involves a high demand of engagement from your Postural Chain and Core which concludes your hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors working together as one unit. It is very common for gym goers to neglect their Postural Chain and simply focus on training what they can see in the mirror which tends to be chest, abs and arms. This creates an muscular imbalance which can lead to injury, and/or lower back pain. Absorbing the force of the rope and maintaining balance when rope training is great for core engagement.
Mental Grit – This is one of the main features of John Brookfields training was the ability to push your mind as well as the body. Who will quit first? When you first use the ropes you quickly realise how hard it is to maintain wave-like movements for 20 seconds and you need to continually push yourself past burning muscles and lungs. This approach is great for endurance based athletes.
In addition to this, here are other reasons why I would encourage rope training from my experience in the fitness industry:
- Low Impact – This is another reason why battle ropes are effective as they’re a great alternative to high-impact activities such as jumping and sprinting to achieve fat loss results and improved athletic performance. I would like to highlight that if you have been advised by your GP to steer away from high-impact activities and only perform gentle exercise then this generally linked to older age, previous heart conditions or high blood pressure which in this case you should avoid battle rope training.
- Great Fun and Neural Drive– I have incorporated simple rope training movements into my group bootcamp for a few years and they’re great fun to use, very different to other exercises, and hard to mimic the wave-like movements when using other equipment. My clients love it and they can be used for pulling movements, dragging, climbing and not just waves. This will use other muscles and train your grip strength also. You will grab the ropes and drive yourself to work harder and harder each time guaranteed.
- Cardio Conundrum – I always hear people say strength training will only build big bodybuilder muscles and cardiovascular workouts should always be an hour long and if you don’t wear a black bin bag under your t-shirt then you don’t burn fat. This is more than likely the same person who is dringing raw eggs and listening to eye of the tiger before a big session on the cross-trainer. Ok Jake be serious now! You can achieve a very effective cardiovascular workout when using the ropes that pushes your heart and lungs to work harder than any steady-state cardio, your muscles to burn so much your going to be sore for days, and still achieve greater fat loss results without exercising for over an hour. I often tell my clients, it’s about what you can achieve in that given time period and not how long you have trained for that will determine your progress towards your personal goals.
I highly recommend unconventional styles of bootcamp training but you should always consult a fitness professional beforehand to ensure your training technique is safe and effective. Stay Strong!
Thanks for reading my blog.