Battle of the Battling Ropes
Battling ropes have made a huge appearance back into mainstream strength and conditioning workouts thanks to gentleman like John Brookfield and Anthony Dilugio. John Brookfield, also known as Mr. Hands due to his incredible grip strength, generally is seen as the modern “father” of battling ropes and his “Wave System” is probably the most widely used and duplicated out there. While these gentlemen have certainly brought ropes back into the mainstream, strongmen and longshoremen have long known the benefits of working with heavy rope.
Ropes provide a very unique cardio and a functional strength workout. It is low impact, can be done nearly anywhere and will seriously work your entire body. Due to the rising popularity of ropes I field a lot of questions on the type of rope, the thickness of rope and the length of the rope to use.
The standard length for battling ropes is 50 feet. A 50′ rope wrapped around a post or anchored to something solid provides an effective working length of approximately 25 feet per hand. While advanced users may want a rope as long as 100′ and beginners may want something shorter. When being used in classes where you have two people using the same rope, in other words one person at each end, you may want to consider purchasing 30′ or 40′ ropes which will again give you a similar experience as using the 50′ doubled over. If you want to shorten a 50′ rope it is very easy to do by simply tying a knot in the center of the rope to shorten its length. By doing this you can the rope can be used by anyone from kids to advanced users.
For most people and most uses the 1.5″ thick rope provides the best option. This size rope presents the most versatility and can be used by nearly anyone. The grip of even trained athletes will be challenged at this thickness but beginners can still use it as well. We highly recommend 1.5″ thick ropes and they are by far the most popular size. Of course if you are looking to really push your grip strength or your goals are strongman like strength then we would suggest going up to a 2″ thick rope. This size rope is not for the average user, but it will make you strong if you can tame it!
Type of rope is probably the most challenging question. It used to be that a rope was a rope was a rope, but today their are many options available and it can be confusing. The three main options are nylon, poly, and manila. I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.
8 Strand Poly – Of all the options poly is the best bet. Our poly ropes have a nice smooth finish and are black in color. The poly ropes have the best life span and are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. Poly rope does not absorb moisture and it floats. Use it at the beach, in the pool, in the rain, it doesn’t matter. Mold and mildew resistant this rope will never let you down and never stink up your garage. Price wise poly rope is the most expensive rope.
Manila - Manila rope is what most people think of when they think rope. As the least expensive option of the ropes, manila is often the choice selected. It is the perfect rope for outdoor use as they are rugged ropes. Manila is a natural fiber rope and will have a certain amount of “shedding” and a break in period. These brown ropes may feel “greasy” or slick when you first receive them, this is due to absorbing moisture and the natural moisture in the fibers. To “cure” the rope we recommend allowing it dry in the sun and then taking a dry cloth and vigorously rubbing it over the rope. Doing this with the cloth will help to remove many of the loose fibers from the rope preventing a mess later on. Using chalk on the rope can also help during the break in period since the chalk will help absorb moisture also. While you can leave this rope outside it will rot over time if allowed to stay wet. Treat the rope well and it will last you a lifetime.
3 Strand Nylon - For many woman or gyms that cater specifically to a large female population the Nylon rope is an excellent choice. Middle of the road when it comes to pricing this smooth silky rope works well for people who prefer to be strong without sacrificing their hands to the cause. While some people find callouses and torn open hands sexy, (yes CrossFitters we know who you are) most woman and some men would still prefer to avoid tearing up their hands during and this rope is a great economical solution. One possible perceived draw back of nylon rope is that it is white and can begin to look grungy after extended use.
Get a rope! Any rope will do, but our best recommendation is an 8 Strand Poly rope that is 1.5″ thick. I hope this helps you in your quest to a stronger and better life. If you would like to see our full line of ropes please visit our Battling Ropes page. Now go Play with a Purpose!