Strengthening Muscles with Battle Ropes and Free Weight Techniques
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Strength training is an essential component of any fitness routine. Training with weights allows your muscles to get stronger, making them better able to carry a load. The stronger you are, the more stable your joints and the more capable you will be to complete everyday activities. For men, strength training increases production of growth hormone and testosterone, both of which are beneficial to a man’s overall health.
There are numerous tools available for a strength workout, including battle ropes and free weights.
Battle ropes for exercise? While they may sound like instruments of war, battle ropes are actually some of the most versatile exercise tools available if you’re looking to burn calories and build strength. Battle ropes are an excellent form of training because they allow you to simultaneously train for both resistance and cardio. Battle roping is a low-impact exercise with big results, as it requires the use of all major muscle groups.
Free weights are a more traditional—yet versatile—form of strength training. Free weights can be added to nearly any exercise move, such as squats or lunges, to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.
Ryan Sheppard, Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer, explains the benefits of strength training with battle ropes and free weights, specifically pertaining to men (though women can also benefit from using battle ropes and free weights).
What are battle ropes? How are they used?
Battle ropes come in various diameters (typically one or two inches) and lengths and are anchored down by a pole and/or a heavy weight. They are most often used for conditioning and power improvement. Holding one rope in each hand, you can perform various movements. As the ropes are moved, the wave of the rope creates resistance against the body. The harder you move the ropes, the harder they move back against you because of the wave pattern. Speed and time spent using the ropes can also affect the benefit you get out of battle roping.
“Battle roping is a full-body movement and trains the body in synchronized movement patterns,” says Sheppard. “Battle ropes are also beneficial in keeping the back and core strong.” A synchronized movement pattern means that you are moving your whole body to accomplish a task while still maintaining proper posture. It is important to train the body with full body movements, such as battle ropes, so we are able to maintain posture while under fatigue.
If you're new to battle roping, get started with this routine:
Start with a squat stance, rope in each hand and an upright posture
Wave the arms up and down quickly to make waves in the rope
Maintain the squat and upright posture while doing the waves for 10 seconds
Do 3 sets of 10 seconds
Work up to 3 sets of 30 seconds as you progress
What are free weights and how are they beneficial to overall fitness?
Free weights are not limited to barbells and dumbbells. Any weighted implement used in a repetitive pattern is considered a free weight - for example, kettlebells, sand bags and medicine balls. If you're a parent of a small child, hold him or her as you do lunges or squats in your living room as your own free weights. There are many possibilities when it comes to free weights—don’t be afraid to get creative!
“The benefit to using free weights over a machine is you are teaching your body to move outside of a machine,” explains Sheppard. “Free weights require more muscle activity to stabilize and move your body, which improves coordination - making you more efficient with each movement - and burns more calories.”
What elements are included in the ideal free weight routine?
A free weight workout should include:
A lower body exercise (such as a lunge, squat, or step-up)
An upper body pushing exercise (such as a pushup, bench press or dumbbell overhead press)
An upper body pulling exercise (such as a pull-up, seated row or dumbbell row)
Choose three exercises (one in each category) and do a circuit of 8-12 reps of each exercise. Begin with your body weight or add weight, depending on how strong you are. Complete the circuit three times.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when using free weights?
The most common mistake men make when lifting free weights is to start with too much weight. You should be able to complete the movement pattern correctly before loading your body with weights.
“Don’t let your pride get in the way,” Sheppard says. “If you stack on weights thinking you’re a big shot, you might be doing the movement wrong and could pay for it down the road with an injury. Too much weight is detrimental to your body and gives a false sense of accomplishment. Strive for good form and strong posture, and then slowly add weight over time.”
If you aren’t sure you are lifting the right way, find a qualified professional to help you, such as a personal trainer. And most importantly, “Don’t get caught up in how much weight you are lifting,” says Sheppard. “More important than the weight on the bar is sound technique. Listen to your body. If you have pain, listen to what your body is saying. If it’s your goal to get stronger, that will come over time. Quality movements, staying pain free and doing good for your body are your goals.”
For more information about strength training and Cooper Fitness Center’s Professional Fitness Training, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.