alternative exercises for battle ropes
Fitness

12 Effective Alternative Exercises for Battle Ropes

Battle ropes are a popular functional training apparatus that allows you to get an awesome cardiovascular workout while also working your muscles. This exercise targets your forearms, lats, quads, and shoulders to deliver an incredible workout. But what if you don’t have access to battle ropes?

No problem. Here are a dozen alternative exercises for battle ropes that will get your heart pumping as it works for your key muscle groups.

1. Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The one-arm kettlebell swing is an awesome cardio exercise that will really get you puffing. This exercise works out your entire body specifically strengthening your quads, spinal erectors, and shoulders and improving your grip strength. Finally, this exercise enhances hip joint movement and flexibility, making it a good substitute for battle ropes. 

Equipment used 

A single kettlebell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width part and hold the kettlebell handle in your right hand at your side.
  2. Hinge from the hips and dip down slightly as you swing your arm back and then back up to shoulder level.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps on each arm.

Tips 

Be sure to maintain a neutral spine position; do not round your back!

2. Rowing Machine

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The rowing machine does a similar job to battle ropes in terms of producing a huge calorie burn as it works your muscles. Rowing will specifically work your lats, shoulders, forearms, and leg muscles – the very same muscles that you’d be working with battle ropes. In addition, it will improve your core strength. That makes this an excellent alternative for battle ropes that will provide an equally incredible workout.

Equipment used 

Rowing machine

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Sit on the rowing machine with your legs fully extended and arms straight out, holding the handle in both hands.
  2. Pull your butt in to travel along the rail until your elbows are at the level of your knees.
  3. Pull the handles back as you simultaneously push your butt back to your start position. 
  4. Start with 15 minutes continuous rowing, adding 60 seconds every week.

Tips 

Avoid rounding your back throughout the rowing motion; maintain a continuous action.

3. Medicine Ball Slam

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The medicine ball slam, also known as dead ball slams, is an intense cardio workout that will also work your lats and quads. This exercise will also help you to develop explosive strength. As such, it is an effective alternative exercise to battle ropes, improving your upper body strength as it burns calories and increases your heart rate.

Equipment used 

Medicine or fitness ball

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a medicine ball held at hip height in front of you.
  2. Dip down slightly as you lift the ball above your head.
  3. Slam the ball down to the floor in front of you.
  4. Grab the ball and move directly into your next rep.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
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4. Barbell Thrusters

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The barbell thruster is an intense compound exercise that will work your quadriceps, glutes, spinal erectors, front deltoids, and lats as it burns calories. It also does a great job of enhancing your muscle endurance and building explosive strength. This exercise will give you a tough workout that gets results.

Equipment used 

Olympic barbell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and an Olympic barbell across your clavicles and front delts. Your hands should hold the bar just outside shoulder width.
  2. Descend down into a full squat. 
  3. Immediately rise out of the squat.
  4. In the top position, press the bar overhead to full extension.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.

5. Barbell Clean

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The barbell clean is another great compound exercise that works your quads, lats, spinal erectors. The exercise also involves a vertical jump which adds a plyometric and cardiovascular element. In addition, it improves your muscle endurance and explosive strength. This is another exercise that gives a very tough workout that is super effective.

Equipment used 

Olympic barbell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart and a barbell in front of you.
  2. Hinge your hips back as you come down to grab the bar at shoulder level with a hook grip. 
  3. Pull the bar up to your mid thigh level. 
  4. Drive your hips and glutes back aggressively as you jump the bar up to your clavicles. Your elbows should drive under and out.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps. 

6. Two Handed Kettlebell Swings

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The two-handed kettlebell clean is another great combination exercise that will provide an excellent cardio workout while working targeted muscle groups. Because you can use a heavier kettlebell than on a single-arm kettlebell swing, you’ll get a more intense workout to your lats, shoulder, core, and quads with this exercise. Its full-body training effect makes this an effective alternative to battle rope exercises.

Equipment used 

Kettlebell

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width part and a kettlebell held by both hands in front of your groin.
  2. Hinge from the hips and dip down slightly as you swing your arm back and then back up to shoulder level.
  3. Lower and repeat.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps on each arm.

Tips 

Main a natural back arch throughout this exercise. 

7. Overhead Banded Squats

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The overhead banded squat allows you to get a great cardio / muscular workout at home with just an inexpensive resistance band. This exercise targets the quadriceps and the deltoids.

Equipment used 

Resistance loop band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, and toes pointed slightly outward. Loop a resistance band under your feet and hold the other end in your hands.
  2. Bring your arms up to full extension above your head. Keep your elbows locked in this position throughout the movement. Now hinge from the hips to descend into a parallel squat.
  3. Perform two pulses before extending out of the squat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps. 
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8. Mountain Climbers

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The mountain climber is a bodyweight-only exercise that you can do anywhere. It burns plenty of calories while also targeting your entire core area, including the abs, intercostals, and spinal erectors. 

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Position yourself face down on an exercise mat with your arms fully extended, palms on the floor and your body extended so that you are resting on your toes.
  2. Begin the exercise by bringing your left knee up and across to the right side of your torso. Immediately kick the leg back and repeat with the other leg.
  3. Continue in a fast, repetitive action to complete your rep count. Keep your butt down throughout the exercise.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips 

Do not round your back; continue in a fluid, smooth motion to complete your rep count. 

9. In & Out Jump Squats

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The In and Out Jump Squat is a very effective plyometric exercise that churns through the calories while also hitting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Base your routine on this move and you will get a kick-ass workout!

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Secure a resistance band to a secure upright at waist level. Hold the band in both hands and stand about four feet from the upright, facing it.
  2. Now descend down into a parallel squat. Jump out of the bottom position to bring your feet together and perform another parallel squat.
  3. Jump out of the bottom position to separate your feet again as you descend into the next rep. Continue in a fluid motion to complete your reps.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips 

Maintain a neutral spine position throughout this exercise.

10. Lunge + High Knee

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

This is another great plyometric move that will work the quads, glutes, and hips – the traditional problem areas for many women!

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a thick resistance loop band around your mid thighs. Position your hands in front of you at chest level.
  2. Now extend your left leg back to perform a lunge, with the knee almost touching the floor.
  3. Drive out of the lunge to bring the knee up in front of your body. That is one rep.
  4. Repeat all of your designated reps on one side and then repeat on the other side.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg.

11. Push Up + Squat Hold

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

This exercise combines two of the most effective bodyweight exercises to provide a full-body workout that also has a cardio effect to burn calories. It targets the chest, triceps, shoulders, quadriceps, and glutes. As such, it provides you with an effective lower and upper body workout. You can get an amazing workout with HIIT training based on this exercise. 

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Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your feet together and hands clasped together in front of your chest.
  2. Now, descend down into a full squat position. From there march your hands out on the floor to get into a push up position.
  3. Perform a push up and then march your hands back and come back up to a squat hold position. That is one rep.
  4. Start the next rep by marching your hands back into a push up position.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps. 

12. Jumping Squat Pulse

Why it’s a great alternative + muscles worked

The jumping squat pulse adds a plyometric element to the classic squat move and adds in resistance band resistance for greater intensity. It works the quads, glutes, and hamstrings while also burning through plenty of calories. This exercise will provide you with a fantastic total-body workout. 

Equipment used 

Resistance loop band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart and a thick loop resistance band around your mid thigh level. 
  2. Now perform a parallel squat.
  3. From the bottom position, pulse up and down twice before jumping vertically.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips 

Perform all of your reps in a fluid, continuous manner.

Conclusion

Battle ropes provide an awesome cardio/muscle power workout that is highly functional. If you don’t have access to battle ropes, you now have a dozen awesome battle rope alternative exercises that will do a similar job.

Choose one or two of these battle rope substitutes for each workout and blast them for 4-5 sets of 15-30 reps each.

Combining these exercises will provide you with an awesome full-body calorie-burning workout.

Move from one to the other for an intense 30-minute calorie churning session and you will be well on the way to achieving that lean, chiseled and muscular body that you’re driving towards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are battle ropes cardio?

Yes, battle ropes definitely are cardio. Most people who use battle ropes for the first time are surprised at just how much a few minutes on the ropes will get the heart and lungs working. As well as burning a ton of calories, you will also get an awesome muscle burn with battle ropes. 

How often should I use battle ropes?

I recommend training with battle ropes 3-4 times per week. Because it works your major muscles as well as your heart and lungs, you will overtrain if you use it more than that – especially if you are also training those muscles with weights. Start with 10 minutes and then build up to 30-minute sessions.

Do battle ropes burn belly fat?

Battle ropes burn can help to burn off belly fat. You cannot spot reduce belly fat, however, so your battle rope workout will not specifically target that area. As long as you combine your battle rope workouts with a reduced caloric intake that puts you in a daily caloric deficit, you will end up losing belly fat.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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