For full transparency: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through a link I would earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Only personally used or thoroughly researched products are recommended. Learn more.

8 Battle Rope Alternatives You Can Do At Home

Battle ropes offer a challenging cardio workout that’s going to get muscles aching that you never knew you had. At the same time, it’ll churn through the calories and elevate your heart rate. 

They’re also fantastic upper body cardio. Most cardio is really lower-body heavy… running, cycling, rowing etc. With battle ropes though, you can focus on your upper body. Ideal when leg day has beaten your legs up!

That being said, they’re not always practical. Here are two of the 5 battle ropes I have at the gym – see how much space you need to use them…

The battle ropes in Steve's MyGym

Unless you’ve got 15 feet of space and a solid anchor point, battle ropes aren’t going to work for you.

Battle ropes became popular about a decade ago. Since then, I’ve had a lot of personal training clients with limited workout space at home. Quite a few of them have wanted to include battle rope training in the programs but we’ve had to compromise due to space.

As a result, I’ve built up an arsenal of eight exercises that do the best job of simulating the beneficial effects of a battle rope workout.

In this article, I’ll lay out the very exercises I use with my personal training clients as alternatives to battle ropes at home.


The Benefits of Battle Ropes

In order to identify the best alternative exercises for battle ropes, we first need to specify what benefits battle rope training provides. Then we’ll have a baseline from which to assess our options.

Battle Rope Alternative - Muscles Used

There are three main benefits of battle rope training:

1. Full Body Training

Although your head automatically goes to ‘upper body’, you can use battle ropes to target the majority of the muscles in your body, including those in your abs, shoulders, arms, upper and lower back, and lower body 

You might alter your rope-swinging technique to focus on a certain location.

Bilateral waves, for instance, target the erector spinae muscles more efficiently than unilateral waves, which alternate the arms while swinging the ropes, which is excellent for the external obliques. [1]

2. Cardiovascular Improvement

Swinging battle ropes demands fast blood flow from the heart to all of the active muscles.

A number of studies have shown that just ten minutes of training has been shown to have considerable benefits for cardiorespiratory fitness. [2] Anyone who has used battle ropes will understand this – a 30 second burst will have your heart pounding!

3. Athletic Enhancement

Research has demonstrated that adding battle rope drills to sports training can considerably boost athletic performance because of the strength training and aerobic advantages of battle rope drills.

In one study, 30 college basketball players participated in either an aerobic endurance program or a training program using battle ropes. The chest pass speed, leap height, core endurance, and shooting accuracy of the combat ropes group significantly improved after 8 weeks. In contrast, only the aerobic endurance group’s upper body strength and aerobic capacity saw improvements. [3]

What an Effective Battle Rope Alternative Must Do

At Strong Home Gym, we don’t believe in just throwing together a bunch of ‘kinda similar exercises’ when putting together our alternative exercises. Instead, we dig deeper to find exercises that do a good job of emulating the actual benefits of the original exercise. 

A good battle rope alternative needs to be able to do the following things:

  1. Provide a full body workout, working the upper and lower body muscles.
  2. Deliver a challenging cardiovascular workout.
  3. Improve athletic performance.

Those are the criteria that led us to the eight exercises that make us this alternative list. 


Equipment Needed for Battle Rope Alternative Exercises


8 Battle Rope Alternatives that Replicate the Same Movement Pattern

Battle Rope Alternative Infographic part 1

1. Rowing

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • Rowing machine

How to row on a rowing machine:

There are five steps to proper rowing machine technique:

  1. The catch – lean slightly forwards while maintaining a straight back, relaxed arms, almost vertical shins, and relaxed legs.
  1. The drive – slowly sway back, and finish pulling with your arms (elbows going back).
  1. The finish – finish by keeping your legs straight, bending your arms so that your upper arms are by your torso, and reclining while pulling the rowing handle towards your abdomen.
  1. The recovery – to move forwards, bend your knees while keeping your legs relaxed and your arms straight.
  1. The return – slide forwards until your shins are nearly vertical to get ready for the upcoming stroke.

Rowing machine muscles worked:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Deltoids
  • Biceps
  • Abdominals

2. Barbell Thrusters

Equipment needed for barbell thrusters:

Rogue Ohio Cerakote Bar

Rogue Ohio Bar Cerakote
Read our best Olympic barbell guide here

This is the bar that we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 120 hours of research and tested over 100 barbells.

It is affordable but comes with some high specs. The Rogue Work Hardening and 190k PSI tensile strength mean the bar will last a lifetime in a home gym.

It is a multi-purpose bar with a 28.5mm diameter shaft and composite bushings in the sleeves. This means it’s balanced for heavy slow bench presses but you can also perform snatches and fast overhead lifts.

How to do barbell thrusters:

  1. Unrack the bar from a squat rack, resting it on your chest while holding it in a front-racked posture.
  2. The space between the hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
  3. From here, take a deep breath, engage your core, and lower into a front squat while maintaining an upright torso.
  4. Push into the ground to rise up, breathing out once you’ve completed the squat.
  5. As soon as you are fully upright, immediately perform an overhead press with the barbell.
  6. Lower the bar back to the front racked position ready for the next rep.

Barbell thrusters muscles worked:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Deltoids
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Triceps

3. Burpees

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • None

How to do burpees:

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms above your head.
  2. Drop into a squat, placing your hands on the floor in front of you.
  3. In one quick, explosive motion, kick your feet back to assume a high plank position.
  4. Lower your chest to the floor to perform a push up.
  5. In another quick motion, jump your feet back into a squat and then jump into the air.
  6. Return to the start position. 

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Abdominals
  • Lats
  • Hip flexors
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

4. Medicine Ball Slams

Equipment needed for the medicine ball slam:

  • Medicine ball

How to do exercise:

  1. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a medicine ball out in front of you at arm’s length.
  2. As you raise the medicine ball above your head, drop your hips to prepare for the slam.
  3. Throw the medicine ball to the ground with a slam.
  4. Bend down to grab the ball and go straight into the next rep. 

Medicine ball slam muscles worked:

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Deltoids
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes

Confused about where to start with your home gym workouts? Check out our complete beginner weightlifting routine.


Battle Rope Alternative Infographic part 2

5. Box Jumps

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • Plyo box

How to do box jumps:

  1. Position your arms at your sides and stand in front of the box.
  2. To prepare your body for the jump, lower your hips and pull your arms back.
  3. Leap up and land with both feet together after jumping both feet onto the top of the box.
  4. Reverse the motion to land on the ground again. Perform your reps in a fast, rhythmic action. 

Box jumps muscles worked:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  •  Calves

6. Broad Jump

Equipment needed for the broad jump:

  • None

How to do the broad jump:

  1. Arms should be at your sides while you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Drive your arms back while lowering your hips to prepare your body for the jump.
  3. As you thrust your arms through and up into the air, leap forwards.
  4. Firmly plant both feet on the ground.
  5. Switch directions and leap backwards.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Core muscles
  • Hamstrings

7. Kettlebell Swing

Equipment needed for the kettlebell swing:

  • Kettlebell

How to do the kettlebell swing:

  1. Place a kettlebell on the floor and stand behind it with your core and back muscles engaged and maintaining a neutral spine. 
  2. Hinge at the hips to bring your arms down to gran hold the kettlebell handle. Your knees should be quarter bent so that you are in a tabletop position. The kettlebell handle should be in line with your eyes. Screw your hands into the handle to create tension in the triceps and lats. 
  3. Begin the swing by bringing the kettlebell back between your legs and then swinging it up to chest level. Continue swinging back and forth in this manner to complete your time or rep count.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Abdominals
  • Erector spinae (lower back)
  • Lats
  • Hip flexors
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

8. Air Bike

Equipment needed for the Airbike:

  • Airbike

How to do exercise:

  1. Adjust the bike seat height so that it is in line with your hips.
  2. Sit on the seat with your right leg fully extended and a slight bend in the knee. 
  3. Adjust the seat horizontally to get the proper arm length. Your left arm should be fully extended when holding the handle with a slight bend in the elbow.
  4. Begin exercising by pushing and pulling with your arms with the arms tucked in. Simultaneously push down with the legs. Your forefoot should be positioned over the pedal. 

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Lats
  • Rear delts
  • Core
  • Biceps
  • Triceps

Battle Rope Alternatives: The Bottom Line

If you have room for battle ropes, you won’t regret investing in this unique training tool. If you don’t, the eight alternative exercises presented here allow you to get similar muscular and cardiovascular benefits in a confined space.

Give them each a try and then settle on the two or three that you enjoy the most!

Are you unable to deadlift due to mobility or other issues? Check out our deadlift alternatives for lower back friendly alternatives to the standard barbell deadlift.

References

[1] Calatayud J, Martin F, Colado JC, Benítez JC, Jakobsen MD, Andersen LL. Muscle Activity During Unilateral vs. Bilateral Battle Rope Exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Oct;29(10):2854-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000963. PMID: 25853917.

[2] Chen WH, Wu HJ, Lo SL, Chen H, Yang WW, Huang CF, Liu C. Eight-Week Battle Rope Training Improves Multiple Physical Fitness Dimensions and Shooting Accuracy in Collegiate Basketball Players. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Oct;32(10):2715-2724. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002601. PMID: 29847529.

[3] Chen WH, Wu HJ, Lo SL, Chen H, Yang WW, Huang CF, Liu C. Eight-Week Battle Rope Training Improves Multiple Physical Fitness Dimensions and Shooting Accuracy in Collegiate Basketball Players. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Oct;32(10):2715-2724. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002601. PMID: 29847529.

Photo of author
Hi, I'm Steve. I'm a personal trainer, current home gym owner, former gym owner, and copywriter. I joined my first gym at age 15 and, five years later, I was managing my own studio. In 1987, I became the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand. My work has been featured on Muscle and Brawn, Gymaholic, Fitness Volt, and many other places.

Leave a Comment