The Science Of Battling Rope Training Pt 1 – Wednesday Wisdom

The versatility of the battling ropes is well known among fitness trainers and coaches alike.  Previous research has shown regular training with battling ropes can improve grip strength, stimulate the aerobic energy system, recruit several important core muscles and improve metabolic conditioning in general populations. However the benefits of battling rope training is not restricted to general populations, more recently it has been shown the benefits of battling rope training also extends to athletic populations. For example, battling ropes are a popular tool for metabolic conditioning in basketball players. Over the next month, we will review a number of studies that have investigated the effects of battling ropes on metabolic conditioning, muscular fitness and the transfer to sports specific movements.

The Study

Acute Effects of Battle Rope Exercise on Performance, Blood Lactate Levels, Perceived Exertion, and Muscle Soreness in Collegiate Basketball Players.

Why they did it: This study examined what affect a 30 minute session of battling rope training would have on basketball performance, blood lactate and perceived muscle soreness in a group of Taiwanese division-1 basketball players. Essentially, the researchers were interested in determining if performing battling rope training before basketball practise would be detrimental to the players performance.

What they measured: Basketball chest pass speed, jumping height, blood lactate, perceived exertion and perceived muscle soreness.

How they did it: The basketball players performed the following 30-minute batting rope training session consisting of 6-different exercises performed at 1:2 work rest ratio (20 seconds work : 40 seconds of rest) prior to and then immediately after the testing session.

What they found: Following 30 minutes of battling rope training, compared to baseline testing shooting accuracy and chest passing speed decreased by 16.9 and 9.1%. There was no decrease in jumping height. Blood lactate levels rose approximately 13.6 mmol.l and perceived effort was rated at a 9/10 indicating significant metabolic strain. Finally, the players rated more significant muscle soreness in the upper limbs.

What does this mean: Due to its detrimental affects on basketball motor skills (passing accuracy and speed) performing battling rope training prior to a technical training session is not recommended, unless there is a specific requirement to train these motor skills under fatiguing conditions. I must admit, It does appear an obvious outcome – that performing fatiguing anaerobic upper limb exercise prior to undertaking a motor skill test will lead to a decrease in performance? So, I am not entirely sure why the authors of this study would conduct a study to find this out?

On the other hand, he large increases in blood lactate and associated perceived effort, battling rope training elicits a metabolic response that exceed the responses that are known to occur in basketball (13.6 in this study versus 6.8 in other studies), thus if the goal is improve the metabolic conditioning to enhance on court fitness, strategically implementing a battling rope regime, similar to the training session used in this study could be advantageous, given the ability to utilise this tool outside of a gymnasium and on a basketball court.

Reference:

  1. Chen, W. H., Yang, W. W., Lee, Y. H., Wu, H. J., Huang, C. F., & Liu, C. (2018). Acute Effects of Battle Rope Exercise on Performance, Blood Lactate Levels, Perceived Exertion, and Muscle Soreness in Collegiate Basketball Players. Journal of strength and conditioning research.
  2. McInnes, S. E., Carlson, J. S., Jones, C. J., & McKenna, M. J. (1995). The physiological load imposed on basketball players during competition. Journal of sports sciences, 13(5), 387-397.