Great Britain hockey player and Olympic gold medallist Susannah Townsend recently posted on Twitter that she was training hard to recover from an ankle injury. One of the training tools in her weaponry? The old-fashioned rope.
Rope training has history
Like thousands of boxers, wrestlers and fitness fans before her, Townsend and her strength and conditioning coach has discovered the all-round fitness benefits of using a heavy rope as a regular part of a workout.
Rope training has been around for years, one of the staple pieces of kit in hardcore gyms and boxing clubs. But in the last few years it has gone mainstream and Kelsey Kerridge Outlooks Gym has had a rope as part of its functional fitness offering for more than three years.
The art of undulation
At the simplest level, rope training involves moving a heavy, long rope up and down. Just 30 seconds of this and you will be a sharing wreck – as Townsend’s video post shows.
A work out with the weighted ropes rely on the “art of undulation,” or creating a wave-like pattern in the rope with your body. You’ll work every muscle, especially your core, while reaping cardiovascular benefits, improving coordination, and increasing metabolic endurance. Plus, this highly effective workout is low impact, so it’s safe for anyone from newbies and injured athletes to dedicated gym-goers.
Rope training is for everyone
Ropes are effective for people looking to build or tone muscles without the use of heavy weights, and because of the range of motion when waving these beasts around, they won’t lead to repetitive strain injuries.
The ropes can range from specific training ropes available from good sports outlets, through to a heavy duty rope from a hardware shop.
Here are some of our training tips to get you started on your rope training:
For starters, integrate a set of rope work into your regular session. Try three to four sets of each exercise listed below and look to build up to six sets of each, once you are confident and competent with the moves.
Rope reps – do each of these for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest between each exercise.
This is the most common rope move and it is a great way to zone in on your arms. Adopt a slightly squatted position, bending the knees and keeping the back straight. To really work the arms, try sitting on a box so your legs cannot get involved with the movement.
Now tuck your elbows into your side and alternate pumping your arms up and down, creating alternating waves in the rope. Continue for 30 seconds before taking a break. When you have mastered the single arm wave, move your arms in tandem for a double wave.
This move is an instant hit for your shoulders, back, core and arms. Lift both ends of the rope as high as you can and then slam the rope with full force onto the floor. Maintain a strong posture throughout the move. Repeat as many time as you can for 30 seconds before taking a break.
This move focuses on mobilising the shoulders. Start with both ends of the rope in both hands (keep your hands together). Now move your arms in large clockwise circles for 30 seconds. Repeat the move but in a counter-clockwise direction for your next set.You can also work each arm independently. Hold a rope end in each hand and move your arms either outwards in circles or inwards in circles.
This is a workout aimed at the arms and back. Get into a low squat holding an end of the rope in each hand. With your arms in front of you and with your elbows slightly bent, whip the rope in tandem. You will look and feel as if you are trying to fly!
This is a great exercise for the core. keep your feet grounded and quite close together. Hold an end of the rope in each hand. Now pivot from the waist and flip the whole rope over. Keep this movement going, flipping the rope from left to right.
And just to add some serious aerobic work into your routine:
In this move, complete three slams and then drop into three burpees. Keep this going for one minute with no rest.
Note: the training tips were published in a previous article on this blog space, but are as relevant and tough now as they were then.