We want to show you the ropes when figuring out how to buy the best battle rope for you.
You'll find plenty of content out there already about battle ropes, but the majority of it simply compares brands and different ropes without actually giving you criteria to use for your decision.
This blog addresses the info-gap and hopefully fills it for you, to the point that your head is overflowing with battle rope wisdom and you're an expert after 10 minutes.
The perfect symmetry of sine and cosine, or something from geometry class.
Battle ropes are found everywhere from gyms to boot camps for cardio exercise and strength training nowadays. Battle ropes are labor intensive and versatile making them a great match for interval training/Tabata, part of a circuit, or as a Mortal Kombat-like finishing move to your workout.
Besides adding fun to your training, they offer practical benefits such as indoor/outdoor dual use, easy storage and they're simple to modify difficulty.
Battle rope benefits cover everything from upper/lower body strength, metabolism boosting, fat burning, aerobic/anaerobic improvements, to isometric strength building in the squat position.
Battle ropes fit into any training type as a potent conditioning tool, ranging from endurance, footwork, and stability to agility, explosiveness, and power. Their adaptability to a wide-ranging variety of workouts even extends to their popular use by MMA fighters and boxers. Boxers employ them to help train for specific moves like uppercuts, hooks, crosses, and blocking.
When battle ropes first appeared on the strength training scene, they were all more or less the same; a simple, straightforward piece of gear.
Now they’ve become a bit nuanced.
Looks like a snake charmer's coiled cobra and the bite feels the same.
Fortunately, the effort required to buy the best battle rope isn’t nearly as hard as say buying a barbell. But there still are a few things to consider.
When figuring out the best battle rope for you, take these into account: your goals, durability, where you will use it, length, thickness, if you run a business, and material.
Although battle ropes most often are used to focus on upper body and cardio, there are many more uses for battle ropes.
Before deciding what the best battle rope for you is, consider your physical strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.
We’ll discuss size (length, thickness/diameter) more later, but if you’re new to battle ropes or you’re less beefy, you’ll want to start with a smaller, light rope and work your way up.
That said, do you want to build muscle, cardio endurance or explosiveness?
1a. Build Muscle
If you want to build muscle, and your fundamentals are already solid, you can probably go with a burlier rope.
In this case, a 2” thick or thicker rope will dial up your training intensity and give you a max assist in breaking down muscle fibers.
1b. Build Cardio Endurance
Want to stop huffing and puffing when you use the stairs? Opt for the 1.5” rope or smaller, so you hone in on the cardio benefits.
Doing so provides more control and will enable you to execute complex movements in tandem with the ropes. You can give yourself a smackdown doing squats or lunges for example while alternating the ropes side to side or up and down.
Sacred geometry/Fibonacci sequence in the garage gym.
1c. Build Explosiveness
Want to ramp up your intensity? Be wise in finding the Venn diagram sweet spot of length and diameter that allows you to erupt with bursts of strength for set periods of time.
If you’ve never done waves with a 2” rope for a minute, then you don’t know the accompanying burn.
On the other hand, doing 5 minutes with a slim and trim rope stings you.
If you’re locked into a high-intensity interval training program, regular battle rope use will lead you to a higher tolerance. You’ll always be chasing that first battle rope buzz, by moving upward to bigger and heavier ropes, as your intensity demands more challenges.
The last note about goals is if you’re a gym/box owner, running a business, and/or catering to clients and customers.
If you are, durability becomes paramount. You’re going to beat up those ropes at a faster pace. Also, what kind of training are your clients doing? This will also determine which rope to go with.
We’ll go into more depth about battle ropes for business later.
Durability is A #1 when it comes to battle ropes. You’re going to be slamming them left and right, and depending what you have them looped around or anchored to, they’ll take that much more of a beating.
Battle ropes should be durable enough to be used on a battleship, and so coveted, that after the battleship is decommissioned, the ropes are sold second hand to the highest bidder in minutes.
Nearly any battle rope will feel rugged and stout in your hands, however many will not hold up in the face of pressure. They frequently fray after intense use. This is totally unacceptable.
If you have durability concerns about a battle rope, you’re best off running a testimonial investigation and reading customer reviews of the product, especially those owners who’ve used it for a while.
You may notice some battle ropes shed.
This is because they’re organic, and made from manila, which comes from a plant. (Sisal vs. manila ropes are a thing, especially for climbing purposes)
When a manila rope gets repeatedly banged on the floor, squadrons of annoying, miniscule hairs parachute down to the ground. They’ll pile up in a flash and make a bit of a mess.
No worries at all if you’re outside. But if you’re inside, you probably don’t want to deal with that mess.
Closeup of manila rope fibers that you may be sweeping up later.
The majority of battle ropes employ synthetic fibers for their construction: nylon, dacron and polypropylene. None of these shed and they’re great both for indoor/outdoor use.
Finally, you’ll find some battle ropes encased in a sleeve nowadays. They’re a gimmick, used to jack up the price to prevent “scuffing” or “getting dirty.” Pfft.
They’re a joke. Don’t waste your time or money.
Do you sheath your barbells? Didn’t think so.
Ropes are meant to be used and abused. The amount of dirt and scuffing they absorb is a badge of honor and a tip ‘o’ the hat to your training discipline.
Regardless of wear and tear, a quality poly dac rope will be your training partner for years with no adverse effects.
Since a battle rope is meant to be wrapped around or anchored to a fixed point and held by the ends, what you’re using as that anchor becomes important.
Where are you using your battle rope? Outside, inside, home, garage gym, training facility?
How much space do you have to work with?
Keep in mind, that you must have a straight line of clear space that’s half the length of your rope. Have a 50’ rope? You need a 25’ space.
What are you anchoring your battle rope to? Do you even have anything to anchor it to?
Our setup at Fringe HQ
You can always use a light pole, fence pole, trailer hitch, strong tree, fire hydrant, weight bench, maybe even a mailbox post. It comes at a cost of friction though. Whatever you anchor it to, the battle rope must be able to endure the constant friction and stress. If you’re using your battle rope outside, it better to battleship caliber.
If you don’t have an anchor point, you can always use a heavy kettlebell (80 lb+) or buy a battle rope anchor.
Lastly, don’t go attaching your battle rope to just anything.
Don’t anchor it to something sharp. A sharp edge will cut the ropes lifespan in half or less. Avoid at all costs. Some trees sport rough bark that will effortlessly wear down a rope to your dismay.
30’, 40’, and 50’ are the most common battle rope lengths.
Base the length you need on your fitness goals and available space you have.
Do keep in mind your rope will be halved in length after wrapping it around whatever or anchoring it to make the 2 ends.
A 40 footer is really 20 feet. A 30 footer is really 15 feet.
This difference in length impacts how you perform the movements, as shorter ropes decrease fluidity.
Also give yourself an extra 5 feet beyond the rope length to give you working room.
The most popular are 50 foot ropes due to the wide belief that they have the most benefits. But again, space dictates length.
How much room do you need for a 50 footer?
If you answered 30’ you win a prize.
Always remember, the shorter the rope, the less fluidity you’ll have.
The longer the rope = more fluidity.
What does “fluidity” even mean? Shorter ropes can slap and catch because your undulations don’t reach the end of their rope, so to speak, before hitting the anchor point and getting feedback sent back up.
The longer the rope, the harder the training.
The lone exception when it's ok to get hosed.
Do you want to get your heart racing, have a quick workout, or do you want to bulk up and add mass with a devastating strength workout?
The two most common diameters are 1.5” and 2”.
The rope gauge has a bigger influence on your training than you may realize.
That little half inch difference impacts your goals and workload HARD.
Thicker = more weight = difficulty UP.
Heavier ropes work better for quicker sessions with more intensity.
Lighter ropes work best for cardio training and aerobic/endurance focus.
Hand size and grip strength also influences thickness choice.
Small hands? 2” thick rope will be difficult to handle.
But if you’re beserker sized and use to hoisting heavy battle axes, then a 1.5” thick rope may feel puny to you.
In these cases, the exercise matters not, but the size of the individual and what works for you does.
1.5” ropes work awesome for cardio blowouts and HIIT training, enabling you to go super hard, keep a vice grip and make an ideal fit for circuit training. Think dialed up intensity and faster. These work best for the gen pop, beginners, and those not as well endowed physically.
1.5" battle rope and hands model.
2” ropes build your Viking strength and size more like a bench press or rowing a langskip than doing shuttle runs. They’re 35% heftier than their little brother and require larger hands and stronger grips. Think more grueling and muscle pounding. A 2” rope guarantees to smoke you better than a 12 hour Texas brisket.
The 2 incher won't leave you short handed.
Don’t even think about a 2.5” rope unless you’re Andre the Giant.
You may be wondering if a thicker rope makes up for a shorter distance.
The answer is yes, but your workout won’t feel as fluid, despite still flogging you into shape.
Run a studio, gym, box, or a bootcamp?
Your decision must benefit your customers.
If you run a large studio targeting minivan driving, soccer moms, then lighter, skinnier rope will work best.
If you own a globo gym attracting mobs of muscleheads then serve them up thicker rope.
In either case, be absolutely sure and exact how much available space and room you have for the rope.
You don’t want a rope inching up on the free weight area or deadlifting platforms.
You might want a longer, or even shorter rope, depending on your layout.
Figure out the intensity type of your sessions (low or high), then feng shui your space.
This will make your best battle rope buying choice for you.
If durability is the A #1 consideration when buying the best battle rope, it’s because of the material it’s made of.
There are basically 3 types of material: manila, cheap poly dacron and quality poly dacron.
A high quality poly dacron rope wins out most of the time.
A poly dacron rope is a blend of polypropylene and dacron plastic fibers. The synthetic fibers get twisted into strands, with the dacron giving strength in the outer braid.
The polypropylene provides a lightweight core and added strength. Using this material in the core lowers the weight and reduces cost.
The primary benefit of poly dacron is its lack of shedding compared to manila ropes.
Manila ropes work awesome if using them outside, where you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the molting of tiny fibers everywhere, which are a pain in the butt to clean up if indoors.
Also, manila ropes will dig 10-25% more into your wallet compared to poly dacron.
If you’re all about organic, environmentally friendly and outdoor use, then by all means go manila, as they’re made from hemp fibers.
If you decide to go poly dacron, then learn how to tell the difference between cheap and quality.
“Polydac” as it’s called is a slick terms that embraces a wide manufacturing process, which includes how the material was created and the amount of polypropylene used to dacron.
Explaining what a cheap rope feels like can be ambiguous. You don’t know it until you feel it and hold it in your hand.
You’ll notice a more fibrous feel and less fluid action than quality poly dacron or manila ropes.
The easiest way to tell is price.
More expensive ropes tend toward a 4 to 1 ratio of poly dacron to polypropylene, which makes for an ideal blend lending to fluidity and durability.
Less than that ratio, putting polypropylene over 30% will make the rope feel fibrous.
Ropes under or around $60 for 30’ with a 1.5” diameter aren’t battleship quality.
Don’t be put off if after you pull your new poly dacron rope out of the box and it’s super stiff.
Much like a weightlifting belt, they need to be broken and worn in. They’ll be fine and fluid after a few workouts and beat down sessions.
If you're undecided on battle rope training, here's some quality science that shows you all the benefits and gains.
Should you worry if your rope gets wet? Yes and no.
Water won’t do damage to your rope.
But it will do 2 things:
Finally, if you haven't already picked up on the idea, you can swap in some firehose if you want, instead of using a battle rope.
Have a fireman friend hook you up or go to your nearest fire station and see if they will part with an old one.
If you live by a port or marina, you may have some options there too.
Of course if you like Fringe and our products, we'd love to rope you in with ours.
Evidently didn't put the lotion in the basket.
Thanks again for reading Fringe Nation.
Please go ahead and share all your battle and/or general rope wisdom and stories with us in the comments below.
Have a great day, stay awesome and lift yourself above the ordinary!