Do Battle Ropes Work Arms [7 Battle Rope Exercises for Arms]

Using battle ropes is one of the best ways to work out your arms. Because you have to grip the ropes for nearly every exercise, your arms will be engaged throughout the workout. To amp up your arm workout, choose exercises that target the biceps or triceps as the primary muscle groups. This includes both some familiar battle rope exercises such as alternating waves, as well as some creative exercises, including rope pulls and battle rope shoulder presses.

Do battle ropes work arms?

What Do Ropes Do for Your Arms?

Battle ropes are an excellent arm workout because you are required to use each arm independently for every exercise. Unlike barbell exercises, where a stronger arm can compensate for a weaker arm to move the weight, battle ropes put equal tension on each arm. This means you will build lean muscle evenly.

  • Your arms will work independently, leading to equal gains in muscle size and strength for each arm.
  • Several arm muscles can be worked in a single battle rope exercise.
  • Battle ropes can be used for both bicep and tricep exercises.
  • Holding the heavy ropes during exercises builds forearm muscles and grip strength.

Battle rope exercises involve compound movements, meaning they can work more than one muscle group per exercise. This makes it relatively easy to work both the biceps and triceps with a single battle rope exercise, such as Push-Pulls and Rope Slams (covered below). Plus, the grip strength required to hold onto the battle ropes during an intense workout strengthens your forearms along with your upper arms.

Do Battle Ropes Build Biceps?

Battle ropes are excellent for building bicep size, strength, and muscle tone. To target your biceps, choose battle rope exercises where you are lifting the ropes upward or pulling the ropes toward yourself. The pulling motion contracts the biceps, putting them under tension and building muscle. Three great biceps exercises with battle ropes are:

  • Rope pulls
  • Alternating waves
  • Push-Pulls

Below, we’ll cover each of these exercises in detail. If you want to hone in on the biceps, make sure to add these to your workout.

Do Battle Ropes Build Triceps?

Your battle ropes are good for more than just biceps—they work your triceps too. To activate your triceps, focus on exercises where you are performing a pushing motion or straightening your arms against resistance. Three amazing triceps exercises you can do with ropes are:

  • Battle rope overhead press
  • Overhead rope pulls
  • Push-pulls

You’ll notice that push-pulls are on our list for both bicep and tricep exercises. This is because the push motion of the exercise works the triceps, while the pull motion activates the biceps. You’ll achieve incredible arm fitness by incorporating dual-purpose exercises such as the push-pull.

How Do You Work Out Your Arms with Ropes? [Top 7 Exercises]

Battle ropes have been described as “upper body cardio” or “sprints for your arms,” and for good reason. Battle ropes raise your heart rate, which provides a fantastic cardiovascular workout, but unlike most leg-focused cardio, battle ropes rely on your arms to generate a lot of power. This means battle ropes are already a great arm workout, but you can maximize your arm workout by trying these exercises that use the ropes to primarily target your arms.

Seated Alternating Wave

When you think of battle ropes, alternating waves are probably the first exercise you picture. This classic exercise works your biceps, but the standing version also incorporates the lower body. By performing it in a seated position, you focus the workout on your arms and shoulders Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit with your legs straight and spread in a ‘V’.
  • Keep your back straight, shoulders retracted, and your eyes forward.
  • Hold the ropes in a handshake grip.
  • With your arms extended and slightly bent, wave the ropes up and down in an alternating pattern.
  • Create waves in the rope that travel all the way down the rope to the anchor point.
  • Increase the speed of the exercise or move closer to the anchor point to raise the intensity.
  • Perform the exercise for 20–60 seconds, then rest for 30–60 seconds.

Like the other exercises on this list, seated alternating waves can be performed for several “sets” or they can be added to a battle rope HIIT circuit. After this exercise, you’ll definitely feel the burn in your biceps.

Overhead Press

While you may consider the overhead press a shoulder workout, the pushing motion also puts the triceps under tension, building arm muscle. For this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grip the ropes as if you were holding a bouquet of flowers in each hand.
  • Bring the rope up to shoulder height. The ends of the ropes should be pointing backward, over your shoulders.
  • Press the ropes upward until your arms are straight.
  • Keep your glutes tense and back straight throughout the exercise.
  • Repeat for 20–60 seconds.

Unlike most battle rope workouts, where intensity can be increased by speeding up the exercise, it’s important to perform shoulder presses in a slow, controlled manner. This will help keep your shoulders healthy as well. To increase the challenge, increase the duration of the exercise for more reps or use a heavier battle rope.

Rope Slams

Rope slams provide a total arm workout. This exercise recruits the biceps to lift the ropes overhead, then activates your triceps as you slam the ropes back down to the ground. In order to perform this exercise:

  • Take an athletic stance, with your feet about shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Hold the ropes in a handshake grip.
  • Keep your arms extended with only a slight bend at the elbow.
  • Lift your arms up until they are slightly above head height.
  • Slam the ropes back down hard, creating symmetrical waves that travel to the anchor point.
  • Repeat for 20–60 seconds.

It’s important to keep in mind that battle ropes provide a total body workout. Although your arms and shoulders are the primary muscle groups used during rope slams, you will also generate power from your lower body to move the heavy ropes. Allow your knees to bend and your body to move naturally, like in the video below.

Seated Rope Pulls

Another fantastic battle rope bicep workout is the seated rope pull. This exercise simulates the same movements used during a rope climb to provide a deep burn in your biceps and really target your arms. To do it:

  • Lay the rope out in a straight line on the floor.
  • Sit down at one end of the rope.
  • Grip the rope with both hands in an underhand grip.
  • Point the end of the rope over your shoulder.
  • Pull the rope toward you, feeding it over your shoulder, behind yourself.
  • Continue pulling the rope toward you bit-by-bit until you reach the end of the rope.
  • Repeat, this time feeding the rope over the opposite shoulder.

To add an extra element of challenge to this exercise, you can tie a weight sled, dumbbell, or kettlebell to the end of the rope to increase resistance. Alternatively, you can loop the rope over a pull-up bar to pull the rope down vertically for an arm-burning variation.

Kneeling Overhead Rope Pulls

Unlike the last rope pull exercise, which activates the biceps, this one is designed with the triceps in mind. Because it is performed in a kneeling position, it targets the arms instead of using your entire body. For this workout:

  • Lay the rope out in a straight line on the floor.
  • Kneel, facing away from the rope.
  • Grip the rope with both hands and hold it overhead. Remember, the full length of the rope should be on the ground behind you.
  • With your arms extended, pull the rope overhand, piling it in front of you.
  • Continue until you reach the end of the rope.

As with seated rope pulls for biceps, you can bump up the challenge rating of this exercise by adding weight to the end of the rope. Tying a simple knot around a dumbbell or kettlebell handle can make this exercise significantly more difficult.

Side-Facing Vertical Waves

Side-facing vertical waves are a total arm workout that can be performed at high speed, keeping your muscles under tension for the duration and building lean muscle. This exercise is best performed if you:

  • Stand with one side facing the rope’s anchor point.
  • Take an athletic stance, keeping a strong base, knees bent, and back straight.
  • Grip both ropes overhand.
  • Extend your arms down to waist level, leaving only a slight bend at the elbow.
  • Raise your arms up to head height.
  • Bring your arms back down to waist level, slamming the rope and creating a wave that travels to the anchor point.
  • Repeat for 20–60 seconds, switching sides halfway through.

If you are still building strength, perform this exercise with only one rope before graduating to both ropes. It’s sure to leave your arms burning.


Push-pulls are another exercise that works both the biceps and triceps at the same time. As the name implies, this exercise involves both pushing and pulling motions. This is excellent for your arms since the push engages the triceps and the pull activates the biceps. To perform this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Grip the ropes with the handles pointing toward the ceiling.
  • Bend your arms 90 degrees. The handles of the ropes should be at chest height.
  • Extend your arms straight outward while gripping the ropes.
  • Pull the ropes back toward your chest.
  • Repeat for 20–60 seconds.

Not only will this exercise activate both the major muscle groups in your upper arms, but it will also raise your heart rate. Increase the speed and/or duration of the exercise for more intensity.

Are Battle Ropes Good For Your Arms?

Battle ropes activate your arm muscles for nearly every workout. Think of battle ropes as a combination of strength training and cardio, with the arms as an integral part of any exercise. While battle ropes can be used to train your entire body, you can target the arms and build strength, mass, or lean muscle. To build stronger arms, perform exercises that use a push-pull motion to work both the biceps and triceps. Additionally, perform exercises in a seated or kneeling position so that your arms are isolated and you cannot use muscle groups in your lower body to move the ropes. These tactics transform battle ropes from a good arm workout to a fantastic one.

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