Battle ropes, sandbags, kettlebells, tires… I love heavy, fun workout equipment. Battle ropes are definitely something I see myself using more often in the future now as I have access to them. A great full body workout in just minutes is guaranteed.
Working out with a little unconventional equipment is really fun. While you may be used to lifting barbells or dumbbells in a gym, always keep your eyes and mind open for a little different equipment. Those things are awesome too, but don't be afraid to try something that is outside of your comfort zone.
Try Different Things
Some gyms have things like sleds, tires, sandbags, climbing ropes and battle ropes. They are great for (re)teaching your body how to move functionally, challenging its balance and using as many muscles as possible.
If you find a gym that has those things, go there, and go often! You get much more bang for your buck when you work out with those things, instead of wasting your time on awkward, and a lot of times, pretty useless machines that limit your body's range of motion and work one small muscle group.
Having said that, there are some individuals, mostly very beginners or those with certain injuries, who may benefit from working out with some gym machines. Also, if your sport or activity requires strength in very specific muscles, they might be useful. But gym machines that focus on training small and / or isolated muscle groups, don't serve people who actually want to get fit, strong and achieve the most common goal–lose fat.
If you have your own backyard, you can easily equip it with battle ropes, a huge tire, plyo box and more. I live in a condo so I don't have this opportunity now, but I know for sure that one day I have my garage and backyard filled with all this and much more fun equipment.
Why You Should Train with Battle Ropes, Sleds, Sandbags and More
Here are a few reasons why you should choose fun, multi-joint recruiting, heavy training equipment like the ones I just mentioned:
- They make you move your WHOLE body. You can't push a sled or lift a sandbag off the ground without really using all of your body parts and bigger muscle groups. Compare these activities with using a gym machine, for example doing calf raises on it. While there are people who my need to do calf raises, they're not the most useful exercise if you want to work out hard, burn fat and be done with your workout in 15-20 minutes.
- You really can't cheat. Because you are using all your muscles! When you're slamming battle ropes, it's simply impossible to surf the web at the same time. Compare this with the picture you see at a gym too often: People are sitting on a leg curl machine, texting or reading something. If you value your time, use it better and actually work out.
- You can keep your workouts short. Once you try flipping a big ass tire, you realize that it's so intense work that there's no need to do it too long to get a great workout. There's even no way that you could keep doing it for hours. Compare with a typical “leg day”, when you'll need to spend tens of minutes on just one movement. But you have five more to do!
- There's one more huge factor: FUN! For me, it matters a lot. I want to keep things interesting and explore all the ways how I can move. Compare it with long and tedious reps and sets of typical body building moves that can get boring pretty quickly. But if aesthetics is your goal and you want to see very clear muscle definition, sure, you've got to do this.
Here's What You Can Do With Battle Ropes, Sleds, Sandbags and More
Okay, you want to try battle ropes, sleds, sandbags, tires and more, but don't really know what to do with them? There so many options, but here are just some ideas for you.
Sleds–Push, pull and drag them. Pushing a heavy sled offers a great workout for your legs, arms and core. It's an excellent exercise if you want to build strong glutes and badass legs.
Sandbags–Just recently, I wrote an article about why and how you should incorporate sandbag training into your workouts. You can find even more sandbag workouts here. When you do overhead movements with a sandbag, make sure that your shoulder mobility is good enough to do them. Try lifting something light, like a PVC bar overhead and see if you can get it up on your straight arms. If you don't, you'll first need to work on your shoulder mobility before grabbing a sandbag.
Tires–Nothing makes me feel more badass than flipping a badass tire! Seriously, it's super empowering, and not just physically but also mentally. When flipping a tire, the number one thing to keep in mind is to keep your back as straight as you can or you can easily injure yourself. Staying away from working out for several weeks isn't fun.
Battle Ropes–Similarly to tires, working out with ropes is super empowering as well. While you're doing most of the work with your shoulders and arms, you have to press your legs firmly into the ground to maintain your body position, so your quads, hamstrings and glutes are working as well. Not to mention the core that has to engaged all the time. My abs definitely get sore from battle rope exercises.
Three Exercises with Battle Ropes
There are many ways you could use battle ropes. There are also endless ways of combining other exercises into battle rope workouts. Think adding squats, push ups and of course, burpees!
But let's see three basic ways how you can use battle ropes:
Battle Rope Waves
Plant your legs firmly into the ground, knees slightly bent and core tucked in. Grab one end of the rope in each hand. Raise one arm to shoulder level, then slam it down while raising the other arm. Move your arms as fast as you can.
Battle Rope High Waves
Plant your legs firmly into the ground, knees slightly bent. Grab one end of the rope in each hand. Raise one arm to shoulder level, then slam it down while raising the other arm. Different form the last exercise, in this one you will raise your arms higher than shoulder level. That also means that the movement will be slower as the range of motion is bigger and the whole movement takes longer.
Battle Rope Slams
Plant your legs firmly into the ground, knees slightly bent, core tucked in. Grab one end of the rope in each hand. Raise both arms together to shoulder level, then slam them down as hard as you possibly can. Repeat.
Even if you're working out consistently, don't be afraid to think outside of a box and try something new. It's good to keep your body guessing. Working out with slightly unconventional workout tools is a lot of fun and challenges your body in a different way. As a result, you may find soreness in muscles that you didn't even know about before 🙂
As always, form comes first, so don't try to lift anything that is so heavy that it makes you to compromise your form. A few keys, like engaging the core and keeping the back flat, are always true in every exercise you do.