If your gym hasn't already started offering a Combat Rope class, it's probably just a matter of time. This high-intensity workout routine is slated to be one of the top fitness trends for 2012. For good reason, too. The whipping motion used to move the heavy, 40-foot rope is intense, requiring recruitment of every muscle in the body. Celebrity fitness trainer Jim Karas, trainer to stars like Hugh Jackman and Diane Sawyer, is a huge advocate of the new trend, and he was happy to give GirlsGoneSporty a little more information about how it can be incorporated into a regular workout routine.
GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): How is using a Combat Rope different from more traditional strength training and conditioning programs?
Jim Karas (JK): Combat ropes are a tool that promote true core stability. In sports and life, a strong core serves as the ignition, meaning it allows the transfer of force from the ground to the arms, legs or both. If the core isn't strong, energy "leaks" occur, force cannot be efficiently transferred and strength therefore suffers. Combat ropes engage the core during every motion, building up core strength and preventing this type of energy leak from taking place.
The other advantage of combat ropes is because of the large amount of musculature being utilized, heart rate increases in a non-traditional manner (different from traditional strength training routines), making it a great tool for conditioning.
GGS: Are Combat Rope workouts appropriate for individuals working out by themselves at home?
JK: Combat ropes, due to their very nature, require a decent amount of space and a place to anchor them. The ropes measure out to 50-feet, so you would need at least 70 feet, give or take to be able to utilize them. If a person had a large amount of space at home, then they are perfect.
The other option is to use them outside in a yard or park. All you need is something to wrap the rope around to serve as an anchor point. A tree or pole would be perfect.
GGS: Is there a baseline level of fitness that a person should have before trying a Combat Rope workout?
JK: In terms of baseline fitness, as long as a person is in good overall health, anyone can begin working with them. We've used them everyone from the obese to the geriatric to elite athletes. The variable is time. If a person is less conditioned, simply utilize protocols for less time, say 20 seconds per set. As a person becomes more conditioned, increase the amount of time on each set.
Bottom line: anyone who exercises regularly loves the ropes because they are a new movement to the body and to the mind. Remember, both the body and mind need to be stimulated, and trying a new form of exercise is a great way to achieve both.
GGS: It seems like Combat Rope workouts require a significant amount of core strength - how can a person without significant core strength protect themselves from injury during a Combat Rope workout?
JK: Again, as stated above, while combat ropes do require core strength, nearly anyone can begin using them and slowly develop their core. The key is duration. Combat Ropes require very natural movements to the body so risk of injury is unlikely.
GGS: What's your favorite thing about using a Combat Rope as part of a fitness program?
JK: The great thing about combat ropes is that they're versatile, which enables creativity during program design. We live in an age where we, as fitness professionals, have many tools available to us that promote health and fitness. We have kettlebells, slide boards, medicine balls, Gravity Straps and elastic resistance. Combat ropes offer variety and fun, which is essential to providing effective workouts that keep clients interested and challenged.
If you've got the space and inclination to try a Combat Rope routine at home, you can pick up a 40-foot rope from GoFit.net for $159.00. To try a workout routine without having to commit to purchasing the equipment, call your local fitness centers, outdoor boot camps and MMA gyms to see if they're offering rope-style classes.
Image Credit: GoFit.net