Hitting the treadmill for yet another steady-state run may be a tried-and-true way to burn a few calories, but it’s about as much fun as watching paint dry. If your workout is due for an overhaul, you may want to look for the coils of rope sitting in a corner of your gym. These combat ropes, or battle ropes, may seem inconsequential, but they’re actually a metabolism-boosting super tool in disguise. Swinging these long, heavy ropes doesn’t just work your arms, it works everything, taxing your legs, core, and upper body, all while sending your heart rate soaring.
“Combat ropes allow you to adjust the training to your own ability and fitness level,” says CJ McFarland, Onnit Academy's head strength-and-conditioning coach. “This is done by speeding up the movement or making the movement more explosive. Both options elevate your heart’s beats per minute, ultimately increasing calorie burn.” Add to that the fact that the ropes are inherently heavy and unwieldy to manage, requiring your body to use its aerobic and anaerobic energy systems when exercises are organized in an effective way. “Doing this can force the body to feed into more glucose and fat storage, resulting in greater weight loss,” McFarland says.
Of course, the key here is planning your workout wisely. “To get the most out of your time, it’s best to place any high-intensity exercises at the beginning of your workout to quickly elevate your heart rate,” McFarland says, explaining that by boosting your heart rate in the early stages of your program, it’s more likely to remain elevated throughout your routine, increasing your opportunity to maximize calorie burn for the day. So instead of hitting the treadmill before your next strength workout, spend a few minutes warming up, then hit the ropes to torch your metabolism. McFarland suggests the following exercises, incorporated into quick, intense intervals.