Is Battle Ropes’ training USEFUL for Karate?


Battle Ropes are a very popular training equipment! Do they really work?!? Let’s see what Science has to say…


Unique and innovative training equipment are continually introduced and spread every year… Battle Ropes are an example.

Certifications, conferences, and webinars provide Sports and Fitness Trainers with new ideas and training methodologies.

The problem is that most of the times there is a lack of Scientific-Based Research to demonstrate the effectiveness of many of these practices or validate the presumed physiological positive effects.

Equipment such as Battle Ropes, Kettlebells, Sandbags and Body-Weight Suspension (better known by the brand TRX) are very common in Dojos and Gyms, nowadays.

Scientific Research has recently begun to emerge to demonstrate the potential effectiveness and utility of these types of training.

Based on the question from an Egyptian Karateka that follows Karate Science Academy, this article is dedicated to the Scientific-Evidence available about BATTLE ROPES and its utility for Karate athletes and Students.

Let’s start…



Battle Ropes are large ropes typically with 9 to 15m, 3-5cm in diameter, which are looped around a fixed object.

Battle Ropes’ training is also known as undulating training and consists of creating waves.

The ropes are vigorously undulated in a series of waves for a set interval, usually ranging from 10 to 30 seconds per repetition.

Rope undulation options are truly limitless because the upper-body can move with a fixed lower-body, or undulations can occur with simultaneous movement in lower-body.

Watch this amazing video from Muscle & Motion up to the end! Credits: Muscle & Motion

Practical Application for KarateCan you see the primary muscles that work in undulating waves?

Anterior Deltoid when you raise the Battle Ropes… Latissimus Dorsi when you crash the ropes to the floor.

Anterior Deltoid is a fundamental muscle for straight punches like Oi-Zuki, Gyaku-Zuki, Kizami-Zuki!

Latissimus Dorsi is crucial to have a strong Hikite!



Fountaine & Schmidt (2015) showed that a 10-minute bout of Battle Rope training is a vigorous workout, resulting in very high heart rates (86% of age-predicted Maximal Heart Rate) and energy expenditure (41kj per minute).

If we look at the standards defined by the American College of Sports Medicine for cardiorespiratory fitness, Battle Ropes can be classified as a Vigorous-Intensity exercise.

In this study, the training protocol is described below:

Training Protocol for Battle Ropes

Training Protocol for Battle Ropes


The protocol included in the chart is appropriate for a Karateka that is used to habitual high amounts of vigorous-intensity training.


Practical Application for Karate… You can increase your students/athletes aerobic and anaerobic endurance through Battle Ropes training. 



No significant gender differences are observed in Battle Rope studies in parameters like Peak Lactate, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption length(EPOC, informally called afterburn), Average Heart Rate, or Peak Heart Rate between women and men.

When taking into account the body weight, female and male Karateka will have similar responses to the cardiovascular demands of Battle Rope training.

Due to inherent female and male strength differences, the Karate Instructor may want to consider ropes of a smaller length and diameter when integrates Battle Ropes into the training strategy.



The training protocol used by Fountaine & Schmidt (2015) had similar metabolic demands to other upper-body methods of cardiovascular conditioning, such as Kettlebells.

In a similar population study, a 10-minute Kettlebell routine consisting of 35-second swing training followed by 25-second rest intervals resulted in similar metabolic and cardiovascular demands.

Another study of Kramer et al (2015) found that there were no significant differences between Battle Ropes and Kettlebells on several anaerobic power output both in upper- and lower-body.

In the chart below you can compare the exercises utilized by Kramer et al (2015):

Exercises used in study of Kramer et al (2015) - Battle Ropes vs Kettlebell

Exercises used in study of Kramer et al (2015) – Battle Ropes vs Kettlebell



Undulating alternating waves generally provide higher Core muscle activity when compared with bilateral waves!

Learn more about the Ultimate Guidelines about Core Training for Karate.

Unilateral alternating waves produce greater Oblique muscle activity than the bilateral waves…

…Whereas the contrary result is found in the Lumbar muscles.

These results are in-line with the greater Oblique activation found in other unilateral exercises with dumbells, cables, or even some Olympic weightlifting exercises.

This is due to higher instability levels.

Unilateral movements especially affect the abdominal wall musculature, as other muscles such as Transversus Abdominis, Internal Oblique, and Rectus Abdominis when compared with bilateral exercises.

Both unilateral and bilateral undulating waves with Battle Ropes provide enough intensity to increase Core motor control and muscle endurance…

But the unilateral version is even more intense than the bilateral version.

Anterior Deltoid and Gluteus Medius muscles are similarly stimulated both in unilateral and bilateral undulating waves.


Practical Application for Karate… Read our article about Core Training and you have in Battle Ropes a greater and more Karate-specific way of strengthening your Core muscles than planks or bridges.



You can manage intensity in 5 ways:

  1. Length of the Ropes
  2. Diameter of the Ropes
  3. Velocity of movement
  4. Amplitude of the waves
  5. A combination of two or more of the above-mentioned

Of course, if you work with athletes or private students you should do one thing…

… it would be great to calculate the optimal load for each different exercise. This way, you can to provide them the correct intensity and induce positive training adaptations.



Nowadays, there is still a small number of scientific studies about the effects of Battle Ropes.

The majority is dedicated to Metabolic effects.

This article contains what we considered the most relevant information appropriate for a blog post like this.

In other platforms, we’ll go a little bit deeper about it… With training protocols and more comparisons between Battle Rope training and other methods like Traditional Strength Training or Body-Weight Exercises.

Stay tuned!


If you want to know more about Karate Science, click here.

Karate Science Academy has a mission: to take Science into all Dojos in the world.

Share our articles on Facebook to all your Karate friends interested in evolution!


P. S. – We really want to thank the followers of Karate Science Academy that ask us serious and relevant questions for all Karateka. It’s a great help for us to define our next Scientific Quest… Keep pushing our seek for Proven-Knowledge!!


Complimentary Readings:

Fountaine CJ & Schmidt BJ.  Metabolic Cost of Rope Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2015; 29(4):889-893
Calatayud J, Martin F, Colado JC, Benítez JC, Jakobsen MD, Andersen LL.  Muscle Activity During Unilateral vs Bilateral Battle Rope Exercises. Journal of Strenght and Conditioning Research. 2015; 29(10):2854-2859
Kramer K, Kruchten B, Hahn C, Janot J, Fleck S, Braun S.  The Effects of Kettlebells Versus Battle Ropes on Upper- and Lower-Body Anaerobic Power in Recreationally Active College Students. Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research. 2015; 10(2):31-41
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Position Stand: Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011; 43:1334-1359


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