His “800 Pounds of Parents” directly inspired Jonathan’s prolific fitness career. He is a multiple Personal Trainer of the Year Award-Winner (ACE, IDEA, and PFP Magazine), creator of Funtensity, brain fitness expert, blogger and master trainer for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). His book, Abs Revealed, delivers a modern, intelligent approach to abdominal training. A former astronomer, Jonathan used to study stellar bodies – now he builds them!
Beast Battle Ropes: An ACE Integrated Fitness Training® Model-based Workout
The best concepts in health and fitness are the ones that immediately translate to real-world, real-life experiences and provide an easy bridge between the idea and the experience each person has in his or her own body. They create a physical “a-ha moment.” With an understanding of how what you do in a workout correlates with what you do outside of it, daily tasks are done with a potentially greater sense of proprioception and body awareness.
As a health and fitness professional, you have an opportunity to enhance this awakening in every client. You cannot assume they will be able to make these connections on their own. For example, you need to help them understand that the hip flexion with neutral spine they develop in a deadlift is the same method they’ll use to pick up a heavy box or bag of dog food.
Bringing the ACE IFT Model to Life
Making that connection between movement training and real life is at the core of the ACE Integrated Fitness Training® (ACE IFT®) Model, which provides a framework for developing stability or mobility as appropriate in a specific area of the body (phase 1), reintegrating it into full-body movement (phase 2), adding external load and creating a stimulus for strength gains (phase 3) and increasing movement speed to develop bodily control (phase 4).
The following workout featuring the Beast Battle Rope and the Son of the Beast Rope by Stroops was created using the ACE IFT Model as a guide. Because it is a high-intensity, highly dynamic workout, it is appropriate for exercisers who have progressed beyond phase 1 and are actively working within phases 2, 3 and 4.
There are a number of reasons why the Beast Battle Ropes allow an intense yet quality movement experience. With heavy ropes, you can easily see the quality of your movement. For many people, the wave in the rope is the only indication of movement quality. Additionally, most people go all-out in their effort to move the ropes and therefore experience a noticeable decrease in movement quality as their effort increases.
The Beast Battle and Son of the Beast Ropes are made of sleeved braided elastic, which makes it possible to both see and feel the quality of the movement. When you pull on these ropes, they pull back. This delivers significant proprioceptive feedback that is not available when using rigid ropes. Beast Battle Ropes are noticeably lighter as well, which makes them more practical for transport when training clients outside of a traditional gym setting.
Equipment Notes: Beast Battle Ropes
Grip: Most of the time, the best grip involves inserting your hand(s) through the loop handles and gripping around the orange covering. This provides a more rope-like feel to the grip and develops more grip strength. It’s also a more comfortable grip, as under tension the nylon can be uncomfortable on the skin of the hands.
Snap: When executed properly, striking the ground with the Beast Battle rope creates a snapping sound. The key is to keep tension on the rope for the entire performance of the exercise. The sound of the rope hitting the floor gives you audible feedback for your intensity, while the relative ease of holding the squat and tension on the ropes provides proprioceptive feedback on the quality of your movement.
The ACE IFT model features five distinct movements:
- Bend and Lift: A bilateral hip or quad-dominant movement (e.g., squat, deadlift, glute bridge)
- Lunge: A unilateral or asymmetrical lower-body movement (e.g., single-leg squat, lunge)
- Push: A vertical or horizontal pushing movement, either bilateral or unilateral
- Pull: A vertical or horizontal pulling movement, either bilateral or unilateral
As much fun to watch as it is to do, this partner-based exercise requires a strong isometric pulling action with periodic rapid rotational movements of the shoulders. A long torso and a shift of the hips into a shallow squat help to counterbalance your partner’s pull efficiently.
How To: Face your partner while holding the rope. Decide together which rope you will wind-up over and under at the outset. With strong tension on the elastic, rapidly whip the ropes around each other, allowing them to wind around each other. When fully wound, the tension will make them unwind automatically. As the ropes come apart, using the momentum of the ropes rotation, rapidly wind them around each other again.
ACE IFT Model Phases: Phase 2 on the isometric squat, phase 3 for the pulling motion to hold tension and phase 4 for the shoulders during the rapid action to wind the ropes around one another
Adding resistance to a somewhat familiar move adds a new challenge. This crawling exercise shifts the resistance from primarily gravity at the start of the movement to more of a horizontal resistance as greater tension is applied to the rope. The use of a cone or marker defines consistent range of motion for each repetition.
How To: Place a cone several feet from the starting position of the exercise. Wrap the center of the Beast Battle Rope around your neck and then under your armpits so that your partner is behind you holding each end. Get to your start position for the crawl while your partner moves away from you until there is tension on the rope. Assume a crawling position. Crawl forward and tap the cone, ensuring that you occasionally switch hands.
ACE IFT Model Phases: Phase 2 at the beginning of each rep and phase 3 when farthest from the anchor
While it is similar to “alternating waves” with a heavy rope, this exercise provides a vastly different experience for the rest of the body. Getting low into a good squat and generating more power from a stiff core makes for a bigger wave and louder snap.
How To: Grip the handles of the rope and stand facing your partner who is seated with the middle of the Beast Battle Rope around his or her low back and grasping the ropes to provide control. Apply decent tension to the rope and lower into a squat with a long torso. Alternate an up-and-down motion of the arms, generating enough power to snap the rope onto the ground. A long torso and a shift of the hips into a shallow squat helps counterbalance the pull from the elastic rope efficiently.
ACE IFT Model Phases: Phase 3 for the torso and legs while holding a squat under load and phase 4 for the arms and shoulders
Sideways Single-arm Wave
A fun combination of dynamic balance and rotation, this exercise can be performed in a stable squat stance, which allows a bigger wave (more stability equals more potential for power) or on a single leg for a greater balance challenge. In the video, the person on the left is performing the single-leg version, while the two-legged stance is shown on the right.
How To: Stand facing your partner, with each of you holding the Son of the Beast Rope. Apply decent tension to the rope and shift the hips back slightly to counterbalance the pull of the rope. Begin performing a sideways wave.
ACE IFT Model Phase: Phase 4 for the rapid, small-amplitude rotation of the trunk and shoulder
This is a demanding exercise requiring focus and precision because it involves movements in two different planes. Many sports and life movements feature the top half of the body doing one thing while the lower half does something else.
How To: The setup for this exercise is the same as the “Alternating Snap” exercise above. Stand sideways to your partner, but turn your chest to face him or her. Perform three snaps of the rope and quickly spin the hips 180 degrees and repeat.
ACE IFT Model Phase: Phase 4 for the rotation of the hips and up-and-down motion at the shoulder
Elevator Squat Snap
This exercise adds a squat to the “Alternating Snap” exercise, providing a dynamic distance between the ropes and the ground, which serves to vary the intensity required to maintain snaps.
How To: The setup for this exercise is the same as the “Alternating Snap” exercise above. As you begin the snaps, simultaneously squat up and down.
ACE IFT Model Phases: Phase 3 for the squat under tension and phase 4 for the snapping motion.
Similar to a “slam” with heavy ropes, this exercise involves performing the “slam” in the air and uses an angular movement to make it more of a chop slam, which increases the rotational movement and coordination challenge.
How To: Stand facing your partner with each of you holding the Son of the Beast Rope. Apply tension to the rope and shift the hips back slightly to counterbalance the pull of the rope and begin performing an up-and-down and angled chop.
ACE IFT Model Phases: Phase 3 for the squat under tension and phase 4 for the chop motion
Incline Chest Press
This exercise is a pure strengthening move with variable resistance and requires full-body stability.
How To: Place the fingers of each hand through one of the loops and stand facing away from your partner, who is anchoring for you. Use minimal tension and perform a rep or two, adjusting the resistance by changing foot position.
ACE IFT Model Phase: Phase 3 for the chest press under load
Perform the exercises as a circuit twice in the order shown using time-based sets as follows:
- If your client is new to rope training or deconditioned in general, combine 20- to 25-second work intervals with 20-second rest intervals.
- If your clients is experienced with rope training and is sufficiently conditioned, combine 30- to 35-second work intervals with 15-second rest intervals.
Note: Each “rest” interval is actually the time to switch places with your partner and/or move to the next exercise.
True fitness leadership means providing clients with continually challenging workouts that adhere to sound principles of movement-based training. It merges high intensity with high quality. The former is in ever-increasing abundance in the fitness world, often at the expense of the latter. Unfortunately, while high-intensity workouts are easy to find, high-quality high-intensity workouts are far less common.
The magic formula for sustained success with fitness is to have both high quality and high-intensity movement. Creating well-designed workout programs that follow the framework of the ACE IFT Model, such as the Beast Battle Ropes workout featured here, is a safe and effective way to help your clients reach their goals. Furthermore, the Beast Ropes provide abundant proprioceptive feedback, which makes it easier for your clients to see and feel the quality of movement.