Over the last several years, battle ropes have become a popular piece of exercise equipment for strengthening the whole body, increasing power output, and burning lots of calories. Not everyone has a set of battle ropes handy, though.
If this sounds like your situation, keep reading. Outlined below are some effective workout options to consider if you’re looking for an alternative exercise for battle ropes.
1. Medicine Ball Slams
Medicine ball slams are an excellent alternative exercise for battle ropes. Like battle rope slams, they target the core as well as the major muscles of the upper and lower body. You can use them to increase your ability to generate power, too.
To do medicine ball slams correctly, follow these cues:
- Start by holding a medicine ball and standing with the feet separated about shoulder-distance and knees slightly bent
- Inhale and lift the medicine ball up overhead
- Exhale and throw the ball down on the ground in front of you, contracting your abs and using as much force as possible
- End in a half squat position with your arms down by your side
For beginners, it’s best to use a sand-filled medicine ball that won’t bounce when you slam it. This helps minimize the risk of it bouncing up and hitting you in the face!
2. Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings are another good full-body alternative that you can add to your workout if you don’t have a set of battle ropes handy.
Remember, the key to a good kettlebell swing is focusing on the hip hinge. Please don’t make the mistake a lot of people make by squatting and then using their upper body strength to lift the kettlebell.
Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re doing a kettlebell swing correctly:
- Start with the kettlebell on the ground about six inches in front of you
- Separate your feet hip-distance or slightly wider
- Hinge at the hips, pushing them back behind you, as you bend to grasp the kettlebell handle
- When you have a grip on the handle, inhale and hike the kettlebell back behind you, in between your legs
- Keep your forearms pressed against the hips when doing this movement, and keep the back flat
- Exhale, squeeze the glutes, and push the hips forward
- The momentum from this movement is what pushes the kettlebell forward and causes your arms and the bell to rise
- Inhale and pull the kettlebell back between your legs to set up for another rep
3. Single-Arm Kettlebell Swings
If you’re looking for a substitute for battle ropes and, specifically, single- or alternating-arm battle rope exercises, give single-arm kettlebell swings a try.
The basic set up and movement pattern are the same for a single-arm kettlebell swing compared to a two-arm swing. Here are some cues that will help you do this exercise properly:
- Don’t let your non-working hand rest on the body (don’t set it on the hip, on the knee, etc.), as this can throw off your alignment
- Use your non-working arm to help you with the swing (don’t just let it dangle to the side, either)
- When you hinge and pull the kettlebell back between your legs, try pulling your non-working arm back behind you (similar to the position it ends in when you’re doing a medicine ball slam)
- As you swing the kettlebell forward, try pulling it up close to your chest (sort of like you’re doing a kettlebell clean)
If you want to make this exercise more challenging, practice alternating kettlebell swings. When you swing the kettlebell forward, release your grip and catch it with the other hand before sitting back and pulling it between the legs once more.
4. Box Jumps
Box jumps are many people’s favorite plyometric exercise and for good reason. They’re easy to scale based on your skill level (simply choose a lower or higher box as needed), and they do a great job of strengthening all the major muscle groups, just like battle ropes.
If you don’t have ropes handy but do have a box or bench, try box jumps. Here are some guidelines that will help if you’re new to this movement:
- Stand in front of the box, about a foot away, with your feet separated about hip-distance and toes pointing forward
- Inhale as you swing your arms back behind you, lean forward with your torso, and lower into a half squat
- Exhale and jump up onto the box, landing with both feet at the same time
- Step down (don’t jump and accidentally hurt your knees!) from the box and set up for another rep
Remember, the goal of box jumps is to work on your power output. This shouldn’t be a cardio exercise where you do tons of reps over and over again. Allow plenty of rest between sets so you can utilize your power and produce as much force as possible.
For a full-body calorie-burning exercise that doesn’t require any equipment, it doesn’t get much better than burpees! Here are some cues to keep in mind if you’ve never done burpees before, or if you just need a bit of a refresher:
- Start by standing up straight; feet separated about hip-distance, arms at your sides
- Inhale and bend down, placing your hands on the ground so they line up with your shoulders
- Jump your feet back into a plank position, lowering your body down to the floor
- Push yourself back up to a plank, then jump the feet back up toward the hands
- Jump up in the air, reaching toward the ceiling as you exhale
If you want to make these easier, you can eliminate the push-up in the middle of the exercise. You can also step the feet back to the plank position instead of jumping.
6. Airdyne Bike
If your main goal in looking for an alternative for battle ropes is to find a new way to fit in your HIIT cardio or interval training, the Airdyne bike (also known as an assault bike) is a good option.
Here are some tips that will help you when using the Airdyne bike:
- Use your legs (don’t try and let your arms do all the work, in the same way that you need to use your whole body help you out when using the battle ropes)
- Keep the knees pointing forward (don’t let the flare out to the sides)
- Adjust the seat farther over the top of the petal for more quad focus, and set it farther back for more posterior chain focus
7. Rowing Machine
Rowing is another good alternative for the cardio portion of your workout. As with the Airdyne bike, you can also use the rowing machine for HIIT cardio or intervals.
Keep these cues in mind to ensure you use the rower correctly:
- Drive with your legs (don’t let your arms do all the work)
- Think about doing a barbell clean with the handle to help you move as efficiently as possible
- Push yourself straight back (you shouldn’t be popping up off the seat)
- Relax your elbows and don’t shrug your shoulders
- Sit up tall and keep your core engaged
8. Barbell Thrusters
Thrusters of all kinds are an effective alternative to battle ropes. The barbell thruster is an especially good exercise to have in your arsenal, though.
Remember these cues when doing barbell thrusters to stay safe and make sure you’re performing them correctly:
- Start by holding the barbell in a front racked position so that it’s resting on your chest
- Hands should be separated a little wider than shoulder-distance
- From here, inhale, brace your core, and lower into a front squat, keeping your chest lifted as you squat down
- When you’ve reached the bottom of the squat, push into the ground to rise up and exhale
- After you’ve stood up all the way, immediately press the barbell up into an overhead press
- Return it to the front racked position to set up for another rep
If you’re new to barbell thrusters, start with an empty barbell or a light pre-loaded barbell. You can always add more weight if needed.
Try an Alternative Exercise for Battle Ropes Today
Whether you don’t have access to a set of battle ropes or just want to shake up your current routine, there are plenty of options you can try. Keep this list in mind, and you’ll have no trouble finding an alternative exercise for battle ropes (or maybe multiple alternative exercises) to add to your routine.