You haven’t felt your entire body scream in exercise-induced agony until you try your hands at battle ropes. Pounding them against the ground as quickly as humanly possible might not look so difficult, but the plyometric exercise actually requires a crazy amount of strength—just ask Naomi Campbell.
While the model isn’t new to doing full-body cardio exercises with celebrity trainer Joe Holder—and she’s certainly strong—Campbell could only hang with the ropes for a few seconds. But how does such a simple-looking move require so much power that it’ll send your heart rate through the roof and turn your body into a giant pile of mush almost immediately?
“This exercise uses all the muscle groups in your upper body—shoulders, biceps, triceps, lats, and pecs—as you whip the ropes down,” personal trainer Kelvin Gary, founder of Body Space Fitness, told Self.
So, want to learn how to power your way through this move like the supermodel? Start with the basics: “Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees bent in a half-squat, and hold one rope in each hand. Next, alternate arms in a wave motion for 20 seconds,” Gary says.
And, take it easy in the beginning. Since Campbell is more experienced, she used both hands—but Gary recommends starting with single-arm waves. “If you do both hands at the same time, it’s a higher volume of work, and beginners may get burned out before the 20 seconds are up,” he says. “Don’t worry about too many sets and tons of reps. Doing it for time is good enough. First, just get used to how the ropes feel and how your body reacts to them.”
“Don’t worry about too many sets and tons of reps. Doing it for time is good enough. First, just get used to how the ropes feel and how your body reacts to them.” —Kelvin Gary, Body Space Fitness founder
No matter how short or long you’re able to pound the ropes, make sure you’re staying in the proper position throughout the entire exercise—AKA keeping a strong core with bent knees and flexed elbows: “One of the big mistakes I see is people keep their arms straight and are just whipping the ropes with their shoulders, which can potentially overwork the shoulders,” Gary says.
Once you start mastering the move, up the ante with two to three sets of 20 seconds throughout longer workouts. After a couple weeks of consistent training, you could have your own Instagram-worthy video of your skills, too.
Here’s exactly how to drink water during a workout. Or, find out why you might not want to do HIIT workouts two days in a row.
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