Logo Sciences du sport

Logo Sciences du sport


Informations sur les Sciences de l'Entraînement Sportif

The metabolic cost of battling rope training in children

by A. Manolova | 27 April 2018

battling rope, children, sport, metabolic, endurance, upper body, performance, cost, science, training, crossfit

Battling rope is one of those "non-athletic" tools converted to fitness. A rope measures between 9 and 15 meters and has a diameter of 30 to 50 mm. It is usually fixed at the center, while the practitioner holds both ends in each hand. The principle is to create waves by the strength of his arms. Various exercises focused on the upper body are possible and organized in interval circuit.

Since several years scientific research has been conducted on the impact of battling rope training on cardiometabolic performance in adults (you can read our articles on the subject: [1], [2], [3] et [4]). But until now, none has been conducted in children. Many studies report that the fitness level of children decreases sharply compared to previous generations. In addition, the scientific evidence available today demonstrates the positive impact of increased physical and physiological abilities of children to health and long-term physical performance. And for that, it is important to know the benefits of the exercises performed. So what is the metabolic cost of a session with battling rope in children ?

The Study

To answer this question, a team of American researchers investigated the metabolic cost of a 10-minute battling rope training and compared it to an evaluation of the VO2Peak during running on a treadmill. For this, the researchers recruited 15 children (10.6 ± 1.4 years) who passed a test (Fitkids protocol) measuring the maximum aerobic capacity on a treadmill. A few days later, the children performed a 10-minute circuit with battling rope consisting of 5 exercises of increasing intensity. All tests were conducted with a gas analyzer and a heart rate sensor.

Fitkids treadmill protocol : The protocol consisted of a warm-up for 90 seconds at 0° inclination at 3.5 km/h. Then the test started at 3.5 km/h with 1° inclination. Every 90 s, the speed was increased by 0.5 km/h and the inclination by 2°, until reaching 15°. From the moment when the inclination reaches 15°, it remains constant and only the speed increases by 0.5 km/h every 90s. The test continues until volitional exhaustion. The value of V02Peak corresponds to the maximum value of V02 observed during the test.

Battling Rope Circuit : For the circuit, a nylon rope was used (length 12.8m, diameter 2.5cm and mass 4.1kg). The circuit was composed of 5 exercises : 1) Standing side-to-side waves, 2) Seating alternating waves, 3) Standing alternating waves, 4) Jumping jacks and 5) Double-arm slams. For each exercise, two sets were performed. Each set lasted 30s and each rest period lasted 30s. The total duration of the circuit was 10s. For each exercise, a specific cadence was imposed via a metronome.

Results & Analyzes

The main results of this study show that a 10-minute battling rope circuit can cause a relatively important metabolic and cardiovascular stimulus in children. In fact, the results show that the VO2Peak observed during the treadmill test was 47.4 ± 8.8 ml/kg/min with a maximum heart rate (HRMAX) of 195.1±6.6 beats/min. The average duration until volitional exhaustion was 10.5±1.5 minutes. The VO2Peak achieved during the battling rope circuit was 36.7±4.5 ml/kg/min, with a HRMAX of 180.5±12.5 beats/min. These values were between 21.5 and 64.8% of V02Peak and between 52.9 and 86.4% of HRMAX obtained on treadmill.

As Figure 1 shows, the oxygen uptake and the heart rate have gradually increased during the battling rope circuit. This increase is due to the cumulative fatigue during the various exercises composing the circuit, the cardiovascular drift and the increasing difficulty of the chosen exercises. This also implies that the physiological responses observed could have been greater depending on the choice of exercises (as well as the modulation of the effort time, the rest time, and the intensity of each exercise).

Evolution of the heart rate and the oxygen uptake during the battling rope circuit

Figure 1. Evolution of the heart rate (HR) and the oxygen uptake (VO2) during the battling rope circuit.

Practical Applications

This study shows that it is quite possible to adapt the work with battling rope in children (especially by adapting the rope model) and that the level of metabolic and cardiovascular requirements is important enough to imply positive adaptations. At a time when the alarm bell is drawn on the lack of physical activity in children, battling rope exercises are an additional solution with a more "fun" aspect to move.

In absolute terms, however, the oxygen uptake values appear to be lower than those that can be observed during a moderate intensity run. Nevertheless, the interest of interval training is the possibility to maximize the intensity during more or less short efforts, and ultimately to obtain a higher time spent at high intensity than during a continuous effort. It can be done by performing several sets, modulating the times of effort/rest and the intensity of each exercise, etc. Not to mention the fact that exercises with battling rope will involve greater muscle mass (although in this case it is mainly the upper body that is recruited). But nothing prevents to include in this type of circuit exercises involving muscle mass of the lower body.


  1. Faigenbaum AD, Kang J, Ratamess NA, Farrell A, Golda S, Stranieri A, Coe J and Bush JA. Acute cardiometabolic responses to a novel training rope protocol in children. J Strength Cond Res 32 (5) : 1197-1206, 2018.

We remind you that you can quote articles by limiting your quotation to 200 words maximum and you must include a nominative link to this one. Any other use, especially copying in full on forum, website or any other content, is strictly prohibited. In doubt, contact us.

Follow us