9 Ways You Can Tone Your Entire Body Using Just A Rope
Put down the heavy (and kinda scary, TBH) kettlebells and step away from the abs “machine.” Instead, let us show you the ropes—literally. Ropes—from battle ropes to a piece of rope you’ll find around the house—are some of the most effective tools to make waves (er, ripples) at the gym. They’re pretty cheap, and the possibilities for breaking a total-body sweat are endless. Here are nine trainer-approved ways to get started.
A Battle Rope
“Nearly every gym is embracing battle ropes these days,” says Anthony Baugh, National Academy of Sports Medicine, corrective exercise specialist, and performance enhancement specialist. “They’re super versatile—they can be used through all planes of motion, which is impressive for a single piece of equipment—and, if done correctly, they offer a brutal full-body exercise. Very few pieces of equipment in the gym can guarantee that promise. Plus, they’re not as intimidating as they may look.” Battle ropes come in a variety of thicknesses—some are for MMA fighters who are working on their grip, while others are smaller and are designed for conditioning. “Either way,” Baugh says, “these ropes are not light!” Baugh recommends starting with these beginner-friendly exercises:
Watch: How To Use Battle Ropes
Standing rope slams
Anchor the rope to a heavy kettlebell or solid object. Stand with feet hips-width distance apart. (“Your hips are not as wide as you think,” Baugh says.) Hold the ends of the rope in each hand (one end of the rope in your right hand, and the other end in your left hand). In unison, raise both hands overhead, then slam them both toward the ground, trying to get the rope to ripple all the way to the anchor at the other end. Repeat this 50 times for a serious anaerobic exercise. “Don’t forget to use your legs by squatting and standing throughout the exercise to maximise leverage and effectiveness,” Baugh says.
Anchor the middle of the rope to a heavy kettlebell or solid object, and stand with feet hips-width distance apart. Hold the ends of the rope in each hand (one end of the rope in your right hand, and the other end in your left hand) in front of your torso, with the elbows slightly bent. Begin to rotate at the waist, twisting from side to side (similar to a Russian twist) so the rope begins to make a sideways ripple effect. The faster you can rotate from side to side, the bigger the ripple in the rope will become—and that’s the goal. “You’ll feel this in your arms, legs, and glutes—but it mostly targets your obliques,” says Baugh. Try maintaining the same speed for 60 seconds.
Plank rope slams
With the rope anchored to a kettlebell or heavy object, come to a high-plank position behind the ends of the rope. Grab the rope with one hand and slam it to the ground as many times as you can in 30 seconds while maintaining a strict plank position. After 30 seconds, switch sides and try to get the same amount of slams with the opposite arm.
A Jump Rope
Jump roping has become seriously trendy over the past few years. Not surprising, says Tim Haft, president of Punk Rope Inc. Jumping rope for 10 minutes burns around 544 kilojoules—and it’s fun!
This is the standard jump rope move. Stand with knees slightly bent, holding the ends of the rope in each hand at hip height, palms facing in. As you jump, push off the balls of the feet, keeping the knees soft and the upper body upright. Jump just high enough to clear the rope, bouncing once between each revolution. Try to jump for five minutes to start.
Side swing and jump
Stand tall with feet close together, knees soft, and gaze at eye level. Grab one handle in each hand, and hold them together, just above waist height. Keeping the elbows tight to the ribs, move your hands in a figure-eight fashion, and let your hips sway with the movement. Aim for 100 repetitions, then return to the basic bounce (above). This is great for cardio, of course, but it also helps improve coordination, timing, wrist mobility, and hand speed, Haft says. As you become more proficient, increase the speed of the movement.
Calling all CrossFitters! This move is popular in the CF community—because it’s really hard. And it’s exactly what it sounds like: Start with a few basic bounces for stability, then jump with enough power to complete two rotations with the rope, so it passes underneath your feet twice with only one jump. “You’ll need to jump a little higher than usual,” Haft says, “and as the rope passes under your feet, snap your wrist down in a circular motion more aggressively than before.” Timing is critical. Go for 50—or at least 50 attempts—with basic bounces in between as needed. “Double-unders improve power, explosiveness, timing, cardiovascular conditioning, and hand speed,” says Haft.
A Rope For Stretching
“Stretching with a rope is so much better than stretching without any assistance,” says John Honerkamp, a running coach and consultant for New York Road Runners. “Using a rope lets you relax a bit more while getting a deeper stretch.” And you don’t need anything fancy—just a slightly durable piece of rope that’ll act as an extension of your arms. Honerkamp favours these stretches:
Lie on your back with one knee bent, foot flat on the floor. Make a loop with the rope and place the foot of the other leg into the loop. Using your quads, lift the working leg as far as you can, keeping your toes toward the ceiling and the leg straight. Then use your hands to “climb the rope,” Honerkamp says, walking the hands down the rope (toward the foot in the air) to increase the stretch. (Don’t pull too hard, though.)
Lie on your back with both legs extended straight out in front of you. Loop the rope around the top of the right foot, then loop both ends of the rope underneath the ankle, to the outside of the right leg. From the hip, extend the right leg out from the side of the body, leading with the heel, and holding the ends of the rope in your hands to add slight tension to the stretch. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Sit with both legs extended straight forward, and loop the rope around the foot of the right leg. From the heel, flex the foot back toward the body, using the rope to assist the movement. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Looking for more? Here are five ways to get fit with skipping.
This article was originally published on