Looking for battle rope alternatives?

While training with battle ropes offers an excellent upper-body workout, it's not always possible to perform these movements during your workout.[1]

Whether you haven't got battle ropes or you simply want to mix things up I've got you covered. 

In this article I'll be showing you the best battle rope substitutes that you can do in your home or garage gym. Be sure to read them all and choose your favorite for your workout.

Below are 7 best alternatives for battle rope exercises that you can add to your workout that'll work your entire body. 

1. Kettlebell Swings 

Woman Swinging A Kettlebell

Using kettlebells is the best alternative to the battle ropes double arm waves workout.

With battle rope waves (this is where you hold a rope in each hand and swing both arms up and down), the entire body is being worked.

While the motion is slightly different, you'll still work similar muscle groups with a focus on your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. 

It's an excellent battle rope substitute that's suitable for most ability levels. 

Benefits:

  • Develops glute power.
  • Works your entire body.
  • Gets your heart pumping.

how to do it:

  1. Grab a kettlebell with an overhand grip. 
  2. Place your feet hip width. 
  3. Let the kettlebell hang between your legs with a slight bend in your elbow joint.
  4. Keep a neutral spine (back straight) and hinge forward from your hips.
  5. Fire your glutes forward and let the kettlebell move with the momentum. 
  6. Let the kettlebell come back between your legs.
  7. Repeat this movement to create a nice rhythm.
  8. Complete several repetitions (or workout for time) and rest. 

Tips From A Trainer!

Make sure your elbows are soft during each swing. This means that your arms should not be perfectly straight to help prevent strain.

Related Article - Best Box Jump Alternatives

2. Dead Ball Slams

Man Doing Dead Ball Slams In Home Gym

Dead ball slams, also called medicine ball slams, are extremely effective for targeting the core muscles. 

They remind me of battle rope power slams as they generate a lot of power and follow a pretty similar movement pattern. Plus, they get your heart pumping as fast as battle rope power slams do. 

What's not to like?

Add this battle rope substitute to your workout and you'll see what I mean. 

benefits:

  • Works your core effectively.
  • Develops power.
  • Great finisher for the end of your workout.

how to do it:

  1. Hold a medicine ball with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep a slight bend in the knees.
  2. Lift the ball overhead as you inhale,
  3. As you exhale, throw the ball on the ground directly in front of you while contracting your abs.
  4. Pick the ball up and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Get angry with it... throw the ball as hard as you can into the floor, generating as much power as you can. Use it to get rid of all your frustrations.

3. Burpees (Cheap Alternatives To Battle Ropes)

Woman Doing Burpees

If your main goal for battle-roping is to burn calories, burpees are the alternative workout for you.

A few rounds of burpees is an excellent full-body, calorie-burning workout, and best of all, it requires no equipment whatsoever.

However, I must add that this isn't the best exercise for everyone as it's a difficult exercise to perform and can be high impact on your joints if you don't do it correctly.

While it does seem to appear in many "beginner" HIIT workouts, I'd avoid it if you're new to training and try something with a lower impact on the body like the ball slam. 

Benefits:

  • Great for raising your heart rate.
  • Good for full body conditioning.
  • Doesn't require any equipment (saving you $$$).

how to do it:

  1. Start by standing in an upright position with your feet separated hip-width.
  2. As you inhale, bend dramatically at the knee and place your hands on the ground.
  3. Jump your feet into the plank position.
  4. Lower your body to the floor.
  5. Push back up into the plank, and jump your feet to meet up with your hands.
  6. Lastly, jump in the air while swinging your arms up above your head.
  7. Repeat for reps or time.

Tips From A Trainer!

Struggling with this movement? Remove the jump from the movement or perform the exercise using an elevated platform (for your hands).

4. Box Jumps

Woman Doing Box Jumps

Similar to burpees, box jumps are great for burning calories. For this, you will need a stable box or bench.

With the box positioned directly in front of you, stand with your feet hip-distance apart and pointed forward. 

It's a great alternative for battle ropes as it helps with explosive glute development and uses your arms to drive your body forward. 

My only warning about this movement is that it can be high impact on your knee joints if you don't perform it correctly.

ALWAYS step down from the box to limit unnecessary stress on your knees.

Benefits:

  • Develops explosive power.
  • Excellent for leg development.

how to do it:

  1. Take a big inhale and swing your arms back.
  2. Lean forward slightly bending at the knee.
  3. Lower into a half-squat.
  4. As you exhale, jump onto the box explosively.
  5. STEP down carefully after each rep back to the starting point and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

While I recommend a plyo box for this exercise, if you don't have one, you can do explosive jump squats to activate the same muscle groups.

5. Barbell Thrusters

Man Doing Barbell Thrusters

Barbell thrusters are an excellent movement to replace the battle rope movement. They work your entire body from head to toes, and are a complex movement. 

I must add they aren’t for everyone.

If you're suffering from knee issues or joint pain, I'd be cautious. By all means, try it out as everybody will have a different response to this exercise (depending on your joint issues).

Overall, it's a great workout for strength building and cardio, as long as it’s done safely.

Benefits:

  • Works your entire body.
  • Develops explosive glute strength.

how to do it:

  1. Start with the barbell resting on your chest in a front racked position.
  2. As you inhale, lower into a squat while keeping your core engaged.
  3. Exhale and rise up.
  4. Once you’ve reached the standing position, immediately extend the barbell upwards into an overhead press.
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you struggle with this exercise due to the weight of the barbell, you can use light dumbbells as well. Use the momentum from the squatting part of this movement to assist the pressing part. It should be one explosive movement, not split into a squat and a shoulder press.  

Related Article - Good Morning Vs Deadlift

6. Rowing Machine

Woman Exercising on a Rowing Machine at Home

There are so many affordable rowing machines on the market, and investing in one is a great substitute for battle ropes.

Rowing machines are an amazing cardio battle rope substitute, working the entire body from forearms to calves. It also gets your heart racing which is something it has in common with the battle rope movements.

Best of all, it's ideal for all ability levels as it's difficult to get wrong. Sure, your form might be a little off but it's unlikely you'll cause any serious issues from rowing inefficiently.

Benefits:

  • Great for cardiovascular health.
  • Suitable for all abilities.

how to do it:

  1. Sit on the seat and grab the handle in front of you with an overhand grip.
  2. Pull on the handle to your chest as you simultaneously push back with your legs.
  3. Reverse the movement and repeat. 

Tips From A Trainer!

It's important to remember to make each stroke long and controlled. This will help you engage the most muscle groups and burn more calories.

Related Article - Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits

7. Air Bike

Woman Working Out On An Air Bike

Air resistance bikes are a brilliant alternative for battle ropes that'll give you one hell of a cardio workout.

Plus, air bikes allow you to push yourself as hard as you want to go, so they're great for most ability levels.

And TRUST ME, it can be one of the most challenging exercises on this list once you get the hang of it.

Benefits:

  • Brilliant cardio workout.
  • Works your whole body. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand next to the bike and adjust the seat so it's level with your hip height. 
  2. Sit on the air bike and hold both handles.
  3. Begin peddling and moving your arms with the peddles. 
  4. Cycle for a set amount of time (or until a calorie target is reached).
  5. Rest and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Want a killer workout? Try using TABATA (which is 20 seconds best effort with 10 seconds slow and steady, repeat this pattern over 4 minutes).

What Muscles Do Battle Ropes Work?

There are so many benefits of battle ropes, they engage your ENTIRE body, everything from your glutes, calves, hamstrings, shoulders, forearms, core and more.

It's why they're often used for full-body fitness training and conditioning circuits.[2]

This conditioning happens by putting these ropes in motion. By rapidly moving the ropes, you’ll be able to lose weight, gain muscle mass, improve balance, and boost endurance.

It's an excellent exercise that I've used with countless clients over the last decade. 

Battle Rope Substitutes (DIY Rope & Anchor Guide)

If your idea of an alternative for battle ropes is making your own battle ropes, this next topic is for you. It’s possible to create your own battle ropes at home on a budget if you’re not interested in buying high-priced commercial fitness ropes.

There’s a very good chance that you already have the majority of materials needed to create a DIY rope substitute.

Here are a few ideas to get you started if you prefer to save some cash with these DIY alternatives.

Garden Hose Battle Ropes

When that old garden hose has met the end of its life, you might head straight for the trash can. Before tossing it, consider transforming that old hose into your newest piece of fitness equipment.

Hoses work great as battle ropes, especially long garden hoses measuring 50 feet long.

Fire Hose Battle Ropes

If you’re able to get your hands on an old fire hose, this also works great as a battle rope substitute.

Most hardware stores carry 50’ fire hoses for around $15, or you can try contacting your local fire department to see if there are any extras lying around.

Old Climbing Ropes

Climbing ropes tend to be a lot cheaper than commercial battle ropes for fitness. If you choose to use climbing ropes, just be sure to braid 2-3 of them together to increase the weight (and the challenge).

Another important aspect of creating DIY battle ropes is creating a sturdy anchoring system. The battle rope anchor is responsible for holding the ends of the rope in place as you pump your arms with the ropes in hand to work the upper body.

Anchoring your DIY rope system should be fairly easy. Just find something heavy to loop the rope through, or even consider using a tree if you plan to workout outdoors.

Another option is to attach a hook low on a wall - make sure there’s plenty of clear space surrounding the wall - and use a carabiner to secure the rope to the hook.

Common Battle Rope Questions Answered

What can you substitute for battle ropes?

You can substitute battle ropes with kettlebell swings, dead ball slams, burpees, box jumps, and more - giving you a fantastic workout that’s similar to what you get from using battle ropes.

Can you use battle ropes without an anchor?

Yes you can use battle ropes without an anchor. Simply thread the ropes through a heavy object to keep them anchored. You can even use heavy dumbbells as your anchoring system. 

How much space do you need for battle ropes?

The space you need for battle ropes depends on the length of the rope you’re working with. For a 50-foot rope, you’ll need at least 25 feet of clear space. For a 40-foot rope, you’ll need 20 feet, and for a 30-foot rope, at least 15 feet is required.

What type of rope is used with battle ropes?

Battle ropes are made from various types of rope. Most battle ropes are made from synthetic fibers constructed from nylon, dacron, or polypropylene. Since none of these materials shed, they’re ideal for indoor use.

Do battle ropes build muscle?

Absolutely! Building muscle is one of the main benefits of battle ropes. Not only will you build upper body muscle mass, but you’ll also be targeting the core and lower body.

Conclusion

Just because you don’t have a set of battle ropes at home doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout.

There are many effective alternatives that will produce similar results, like kettlebell swings, dead ball slams, or burpees.

If you’re up for it, it’s even possible to create a DIY battle ropes course with just a few materials you have lying around the house, like an old garden hose or climbing ropes.

References:

  1. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19537513/how-to-use-battling-ropes/
  2. https://www.trxtraining.com/blogs/news/try-this-battle-rope-circuit-to-get-you-strong-and-sweaty
Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.