Getting To Grips With Battle Rope Training

When I was last in New York, I went to a Crossfit Gym where I saw all manner of things that were new to me. The thing that intrigued me the most was battle ropes or battling ropes.  It looked kind of strange and I was intrigued to give it a try.

Battle Ropes (or heavy rope training) originate in sports-specific training drills developed in martial arts and also American Football and have been integrated into most mainstream sports from cricket to basketball. Yet their popularity has spread beyond sports and into gyms and even personal training classes. It’s about back-to-basics training using simple equipment that brings results.

battling-ropes-workout

Battle Ropes come in various shapes and sizes and usually weigh anything from 5kg up to about 20kg depending upon whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced. I began with the 10kg and just holding it in my hand I knew it was going to be tougher than I thought. You anchor the rope to a pole or wall and this then provides two even lengths to work with. With a firm grip in both hands I was taken through various training drills. Exercises included spirals, whips, throws, waves… ouch my arms, shoulders, back, stomach and legs were killing me! I could not believe just how many muscles these exercises were hitting! We started doing circuits of just 30 seconds of exercise and then one minute rest. It was torture!

battle-rope-training
Battle Rope Training encourages upper body endurance, power and strength but it also works (indirectly) the core and legs. The next few days I could really feels muscles aching that had clearly not been worked in this way before. I can see why sports teams use battle ropes. It’s about power and endurance which is required for all sports in short bursts. It places stress on the muscles without any high impact on the joints making it a safe way to train. Most importantly for most casual users is that its a great way of burning fat. You don’t need any fancy equipment and battle ropes can be purchased fairly cheaply. You can wrap one around a tree in your back yard and hey presto, you’re up and running. As you become more proficient you can add new routines, increase your workout time and reduce your rest time. I recommend using battle ropes using interval training techniques with 30 seconds exercise (intense) and then one minute of rest. Trust me you will feel the burn! Has anyone tried it?

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Exercise of The Month: The Wall Sit

It’s funny, but until about 6 months ago I had never ever performed the wall sit. It was my personal trainer who had me do it and when he demonstrated the exercise, he looked so relaxed and comfortable I really thought it would be a piece of cake! I was wrong. Upon starting the exercise he told me that my bottom was too high up and to squat deeper..ouch! Now I could feel it. Within 45 seconds my legs were shaking and I managed a pathetic 1.25 minutes. “Was that good?” I asked my trainer. “Below Average” he told me!

WallSit

But just like the plank it is one exercise you can perform just about anywhere, without any gym equipment  and with practice you will improve your time. Basically the exercise involves sitting, with your back against a wall (in a squat position) and simply holding the position for as long as you can. It is important that the legs are at a 90 degree angle. Apparently you are not supposed to rest your hands on your thighs, but instead to hold them above your head or even in front of you to work your shoulders. The exercise builds isometric strength as well as endurance in the quads and glutes – a favorite exercise to perform for the pre-ski season!

I had little idea of this exercise, but am told that it is used in crossfit classes, school gyms, boxing clubs and the army! I can see why! There are also a number of variations which include one legged wall sits and holding weights in your hands too.
Modified-Wall-Sit

Interesting Fact: Dr. Thienna Ho set the Guinness World Record for the longest wall sit at 11 hours and 51 minutes. That’s insane!

CrossFit: When Exercise Gets Serious

Crossfit is all about training your body for the unknown (not just the known). Its one of the fastest growth areas in the world of strength, conditioning and fitness and has gathered an almost cult status amongst serious competitive exercisers.

It certainly isn’t recommended for beginners and is even considered tough for fairly seasoned exercisers. Combining strength training with plyometrics, speed training, various Olympic lifts, body weight exercises, kettlebell and sandbag routines. By training the body in this way CrossFit aims to work the whole body in a comprehensive fashion promoting improvements in cardiovascular-fitness, strength, endurance, stamina power, speed, agility and coordination. Exercises are normally explosive and carried out in circuits (timed). Most exercises will work the whole body with lifting, pulling, squating and pushing exercises forming the basis for most circuits.

crossfit-training

With the popularity of this form of exercise, CrossFit gyms have begun to spring up all over the globe. There are now about 2,500 locations worldwide. Forget the conventional set-up you may be used to. This could not be further from your local Fitness First. These places are more akin to a garage or industrial warehouse with Olympic plates, barbells, climbing ropes, pull-up bars, plyometric boxes and the like. Not for the uninitiated.

Despite its hardcore nature, the advantages of CrossFit are that the workouts are actually quite quick so you don’t need a hugh amount of time to complete your circuit. It will appeal particularly to athletes and ex-athletes and has a big following with ex-military. There is almost a competitive pride at participants’ ability to compete not just against other crossfitters but against themselves and their own times. The workouts are certainly not without risks and injury is common for newbies.  But being the kind of person that loves to try all things fitness I decided to give it a try.

I returned to New York over Christmas to see Family and friends and I was able to seek out a session at CrossFitNY. I arranged an induction with my coach and the first session I really just observed. It was totally different to anything I had done before but I was excited (if not a little daunted) about trying it out myself.

crossfit-competition

There were a number of newbies like myself but a lot of very serious athletes there too that had clearly been doing this for some time. However, the atmosphere was friendly and I got stuck in to my circuit. There were Olympic Lifts which were my biggest challenge but also kettlebell work which was fine for me. The climbing ropes were really tough and I realised how poor my grip strength was. My circuit was short and I completed it in 20.22. But I was absolutely shattered and I have to confess, I did pick up a small injury (just a strain!).  I can certainly see how this could become quite addictive and would make anyone extremely fit. However, for now I think I need to rapidly improve my fitness before returning to a CrossFit gym!