A growing number of people in the United States are getting hooked on a new fitness craze called battle ropes. The routine involves the use of thick and heavy ropes that practitioners drag, whip and slam in order to get a full body workout.

Battle ropes have long been used for training in different sports including football and mixed martial arts. Fitness experts, however, say that the workout routine has now been adapted by gyms across the country for its efficiency in keeping the body fit.

Jonathan Ross, a representative from the American Council on Exercise, compared the workout to running using the upper body. He said that the routine not only targets different muscles in the body, but it also allows the muscles to be trained in different ways.

Ross, who is also a trainer in Washington, D.C. and author of the book Abs Revealed, explained that rope workouts, such as battle ropes, stimulate the mind as well as the body in what he considers the grace of the wave.

"The ropes show you how you're moving," Ross said.

"You see the physical manifestation of the body movement as you watch the ropes. If you do them well, your body is moving well."

Ross added that battle ropes routines focus on the coordination and posture of individuals. They are also good for people who want a calorie-burning cardio workout.

Crunch Fitness, a chain of workout gyms in the United States, has developed a group fitness class using battle ropes.

"It's great core training," Crunch's senior vice president of programming Donna Cyrus said. "The abs, back and glutes (muscles of the buttocks) are all engaged."

"Obviously there's toning to the upper body and it burns a lot of calories."

Classes involving rope routines often include warmups followed by a segment where teams compete to find out who can keep the rope moving for the longest period.

Ross said battle ropes, which typically come in different lengths and diameters, require the stability and mobility of the shoulders during workouts. He advised people nursing shoulder injuries should use the anchored ropes with caution.

In April, a study on the use of battle ropes was published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. The findings showed how the routine was able increase the heart rates and calorie burn of participants during a 10-minute workout.

Photo: stroopsmma | Flickr 

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