Battle ropes are a versatile tool that can be used to improve strength, endurance, and overall fitness.
One of the most popular exercises with this equipment is the battle rope slam.
This high-intensity, full body exercise, engages multiple muscle groups, making it a great movement to include in any fitness routine.
In this exercise guide, we outline how to perform battle rope slams properly, as well as the muscles worked, benefits and common mistakes to avoid.
- A battle rope slam is a high-intensity exercise involving rhythmic, forceful vertical “slams” of a heavy rope.
- The exercise engages the shoulders, back, arms and core… as well as the muscles of the lower body, including the quads, glutes and hamstrings.
- The thicker the rope, the harder the exercise is.
- Try rounds of 30-60 seconds doing battle rope slams, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest and see how many rounds you can do.
What is a Battle Rope?
Battle ropes are long, heavy ropes that are anchored at one end.
They come in various lengths and thicknesses, with the heavier ropes providing a more challenging workout. Battle ropes are used for a variety of exercises, most of which involve lifting and lowering the ropes.
Battle ropes are quite unique in their ability to build muscle and burn calories at the same time. 1 minute of battle rope slams may not sound like much, but even this will leave your shoulders burning, armed exhausted, legs feeling like jelly… not to mention feeling out of breath too.
(If you like battle ropes, you may also like the idea of weighted jump ropes too).
The Rise of Functional Fitness
How to Perform Battle Rope Slams Properly
To do battle rope slams:
- Stand facing the anchor point of the rope with your feet shoulder-width apart. Each of your hands should hold one end of the rope.
- Bend your knees slightly and engage your core. This is your starting position.
- Raise the ropes overhead, using your arms and shoulders to generate the movement.
- Forcefully slam the ropes down onto the ground, engaging your core and maintaining the bend in your knees.
- Immediately raise the ropes again, including a little jump, and repeat the slamming motion.
- The goal is to maintain a consistent, rhythmic motion.
Coach’s Tip – Battle rope slams lend themselves very well to HIIT/circuit training.
Battle rope slams are a full body exercise that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
The primary muscles targeted during this exercise are the shoulders, arms, back, and core. However, because the exercise requires a strong base and small jump after each “slam”, it also engages the lower body muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Battle Rope Slam Benefits
Battle rope slams engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a comprehensive workout from a single exercise.
If you’re short on time, doing 1 minute of battle rope slams, followed by 30 seconds rest, repeated 5 times, is more than enough to break a sweat.
It’s also really easy to adapt the movement… for example, by increasing the jump after each slam, you can put more emphasis on the lower body.
Improved Muscular Endurance
One of the mistakes we often see people make in the gym is not including enough exercises that focus on muscular endurance (i.e., they focus exclusively on absolute strength).
Battle rope slams are a perfect way to improve muscular endurance, as the equipment lends itself for longer sets.
This means your muscles have to continue to perform the movement when they are tired, which forces them to adapt and grow.
The high-intensity nature of battle rope slams makes them an excellent exercise for burning calories and promoting fat loss.
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, and haven’t had luck doing cardio like running or cycling, including an exercise like battle rope slams could definitely be worth considering.
Improved Coordination and Balance
The rhythmic, coordinated movement required in battle rope slams can help improve your coordination and balance.
The act of slamming the ropes can be a good stress reliever. The physical exertion can help release pent-up tension and promote the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural mood boosters.
Battle Rope Alternatives
If you’re looking for a change from battle rope slams or don’t have access to battle ropes, there are several alternative exercises that target similar muscle groups.
Each of these exercises also provides a full-body workout and can help improve strength and endurance.
Kettlebell swings are a dynamic, compound exercise that works several major muscle groups simultaneously. They primarily target the glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, and the stabilizing muscles of the shoulders and back.
- Stand about a foot away from the kettlebell, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Squat down and grab the kettlebell with both hands, palms facing you.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees slightly, and let the kettlebell swing back between your legs.
- Drive your hips forward and straighten your legs, swinging the kettlebell up in front of you.
- The kettlebell should reach roughly chest height before it starts to fall back down.
- As the kettlebell descends, push your hips back and bend your knees to swing the kettlebell back through your legs. Repeat this swinging motion in a fluid rhythm.
Coach’s Tip – Keep your core tight, and maintain a neutral spine… and avoid any sort of jerking motion.
Medicine Ball Slams
A medicine ball slam is a high-intensity exercise that works several muscles in your body, including your abs, glutes, and thighs. It’s a full-body, functional movement that helps improve strength, power, and speed. The exercise involves forcefully slamming a medicine ball (a heavy, usually weighted ball) onto the floor.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the medicine ball with both hands.
- Lift the ball overhead, extending your body fully.
- Use your core to slam the ball down onto the ground in front of you as hard as you can.
- Squat to pick up the ball, keeping your back straight.
- Repeat the movement.
Coach’s Tip – Unlike battle rope slams, it’s easier to progress medicine ball slams, simply by selecting a heavier ball.
The humble burpee is a full-body exercise used for strength training and as an aerobic exercise. The basic movement involves four steps and is known for its effectiveness at burning calories and improving endurance.
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower into a squat and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Jump your feet back into a plank position.
- Perform a push-up, lowering your chest towards the floor.
- Jump your feet back in towards your hands.
- Stand up and jump vertically, clapping hands above the head.
Coach’s Tip – If you don’t like burpees, we’ve created a list of burpee alternatives that you can do at home.
Overall, battle rope slams are a dynamic and powerful exercise that can help improve strength, endurance, and overall fitness.
By engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, they can provide a comprehensive workout from a single exercise.
The high-intensity nature of battle rope slams makes them an excellent choice for those looking to burn calories and promote fat loss too.
You may also find it’s a great way to warm-up and get the body moving before other gym exercises.
As with any exercise, it’s essential to perform it with proper form to maximize benefits and minimize the risk of injury.