In an effort to continue making fitness gains in triathlon and increase lean muscle, I'm constantly on the lookout for new tools and workouts to challenge myself.
For strength training and core work the last 2 years, I've been using a mash-up of:
• Dumbbells • Kettlebells • Resistance bands • TRX • BOSU ball • Medicine balls • Pull-up bar
Enter: Battle Rope and Slam Ball.
Why use a battle rope? What are the benefits? A battle rope offers a whole-body workout while engaging major muscle groups, in addition to achieving cardiovascular fitness. Battle ropes also allow you to move in many directions. The more movements you incorporate (such as lateral, vertical, or in circular motion), the more you'll work different muscles and increase your shoulder mobility and range of motion.
Depending on the battle rope movement, you can potentially activate:
• latissimus dorsi
• gluteus maximus
• erector spinae
For those that are challenged for time, I appreciate the time-efficiency that battle ropes offer. I'm able to engage a variety of muscles like my deltoids and glutes while I'm also working my abdominal muscles and erector spinae, which improve core stability. I can also incorporate other moves for more challenging workouts, such as: lunging, squating, and jumping. Battle ropes can also be incorporated into HIIT (high-intensity interval training) programs, which can potentially increase V02 max. To really challenge yourself, perform battle rope movements by narrowing your stance, standing on one leg or standing on a BOSU ball.
Triathletes may want to try these battle rope movements:
• Crossovers: Crossovers target the hips and core with full-body engagement.
• Alternating Waves With Lateral Lunges: The sequence of alternating waves with lateral lunges improves strength, balance and coordination.
• Double Waves: Target the shoulder girdle muscles, biceps, triceps, and muscles of the forearm.
• Side-to-Side Waves: This motion uses your upper body muscles, including the deltoids and rhomboids of your upper back, your lats, and your abdominal obliques.
As with any piece of fitness equipment, it's critical to understand proper form in order to perform the movements correctly, efficiently, and to avoid injury.
The slam ball can be used for standard weight-lifting exercises in place of free weights and for dynamic exercises that involve an increased cardiovascular effort. In addition, slam balls are also effective as they improve muscle mass, cardiovascular endurance and hand-eye coordination.
Like the battle rope, a slam ball works your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, quads, glutes, calves and back, and allow you to move in multiple planes of motion. To vary muscle engagement, slam ball movements can also be performed on the knees. To add instability to the movement, perform slam ball movements on one knee. On a side note, slamming a ball down over and over and over is also a great outlet for dealing with stress.
Common slam ball exercises include:
• Overhead Front Slams
• Squat Jump Front Slams
• Underhand Wall Slams
• Slam Ball Twists
• Slam Ball with Burpee
I'm looking forward to confusing my muscles a bit. Some times a little confusion is a good thing.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.