Training Ropes: Adding Fun and Ease to Group Fitness Training

If you are not using training ropes in your group workouts, you are missing out! Training ropes are one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal for fitness. They are versatile, low-impact, and many fitness levels and ages can enjoy the benefits of working with training ropes.

What are training ropes? 

Training Rope
Training Rope

Essentially it’s a long thick rope with handles. The length, diameter, and material will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. From a training standpoint these variations are important to take into consideration before implementing them into your training program.  I’ll touch more on that later.

These long ropes with handles are usually wrapped around an anchor of some sort. You can buy anchors specifically for mounting the ropes to the walls of your facility or you can simply wrap it around anything that won’t move such as a rack, pole, or tree.

How are training ropes used?

There are many, many, exercises and progressions, but I’m just going to give you a starting point and an example of ways to adjust the intensity. The primary rope exercise we use is rope waves. Assume an athletic stance with one handle in each hand and make a drumming movement avoiding rounding of the shoulders and upper back .  Using that as an example: if I wanted to increase the difficulty I might add squats to this movement, if I wanted to decrease the difficulty I would simply have the client drop one handle and do waves with only one side of the rope. That’s pretty much the ease of coaching ropes. If you would like more examples of exercises that can be done with battling ropes, click the link at the bottom of the page.

What are the benefits of training ropes in group exercise?

Ropes are hands down the number one way to get an individual with a knee or foot injury some high intensity, low-impact conditioning. How many of you have clients with lower body injuries they have acquired at some time in their life?  How many times have you wanted to get that heart rate up a little more without, bending, twisting, jumping, running, over head, or lateral movement? J Sometimes it’s hard to come up with “that exercise” on the fly while coaching a group session.  Ropes make that really easy.

Children love them! Child and teenage athletes are full of energy and spunk! Any new addition to the gym is immediately noticed and inspected.  Hand them a training rope and say “grip it and rip it” and watch the smiles. From a trainer’s standpoint, training ropes are an excellent way to start to introduce maintaining good posture through vigorous movements.  We usually line the younger children up each with one handle, two kids to a rope. That also helps incorporate sharing.  J

The biggest, baddest, most ninja like athlete will get smoked. Training ropes are great for injured and young populations but that does not make them easy to do.  You, the coach, even with a shorter, lighter rope, control the intensity of the training.  There are many, many progressions that can be applied to any training rope exercise.  Again, click the link at the bottom of the page for 20 example rope exercises.

It is easy to coach.  Any client can rip some rope waves in a group session. With the world of training advancing and more and more trainers are becoming more form intensive, this is a tool that involves minimal cuing.

What do you need to know before using training ropes?

When you look into introducing training ropes into your toolbox, you want to take into consideration who your primary population is.  At our facility we train a very mixed population and went for ropes that would literally work for anyone.  We use the poly ropes because they are a little lighter than nylon. They are also water resistant which makes them great for using outside. As far as size, 1’ to 1 1/2’ diameters are usually best. 2’+ diameter rope can be hard to hang on to and is usually too heavy for most people to use in good form.  The length can affect this as well.  The longer the rope the heavier it is. Length is a little less important than diameter and material when it comes to training intensity.  How much space you have is a better dictator of how long of a rope you need.

Our friend Justin Yule put together a great video on rope exercises. Check out training ropes in action at

I hope this article might inspire you to take advantage of one of my must haves when coaching group sessions.  Increase your client retention by developing strength, power, and endurance with this fun, easy to learn how to use fitness tool.


Sarah Spaulding


Commanding Respect with Proper Coaching Cues and Tone

Every single coach I’ve ever worked with, there has been one common trait that is common in each new coach I’ve ever worked with.  Understanding why certain people command respect when they walk in the room, control every detail of what’s going on, and most importantly…doing all of this without anyone consciously thinking about it.  Some people just have it.  One person that I feel has this trait locked down is Dan John.

Watch Dan John and you’ll know what I mean.  The man is brilliant.  He walks in the room and BOOM…he owns it.  You never even recognize it.  You just know that you’re in good hands and you feel welcome.  His personality, confidence, body language, and every single trait a good coach should have is on display with Dan John.

Moving on, let’s talk about some of these traits.  The first thing I always have to tell each coach or intern in training is to SPEAK UP!!!  The tone of your voice says it all.  If you’re unable to hear what the coach is saying, that speaks volume.  Not only would I get frustrated as a client if I couldn’t hear my coach or trainer, I would subconsciously feel that the coach, my leader, is not confident in what they’re doing.  Something as simple as talking louder and saying things with confidence will make a world of difference in the atmosphere of your training session.  I’ve personally seen a lesser skilled and qualified trainer command respect with this trait alone.

Another trait necessary to be a good coach is being good with coaching cues and verbally instructing clients to perform what you’re asking for.  The best cues that will make differences are all external coaching cues, not internal.  A good coach will use external stimulus and environments rather than internal.  What does that mean exactly?

Internal cues are using terms in relation to their body.  Activate the glutes…Strike your foot behind your hip…Keep your hips extended…and hundreds of other cues you may have heard before that use body parts and specific muscles to elicit a change can be classified as internal cues.  External cues use external environments to get the client out of the specific muscle activation mindset.  These cues can let each person really “get it”.  Rather than saying “strike your foot behind your hip” (internal cue); say something like, “Punch the floor with your foot”.  The person will begin to start to make changes.  They’re not thinking about where their foot is landing.  They’re not thinking about where their hip is at.  They begin to do what you want.  They know what a punch is, so they begin to really start to aggressively drive their foot into the floor.  BOOM!  Now their quicker.   Just by using an external cue.

Think about what you’re saying.  Be cognizant of your tone of voice, your coaching cues, your body language while coaching.  In order to be a high level coach, these traits are necessary.  However, the only way to really develop these traits are with experience.  Get in the trenches and coach.  Coach a lot.  Get surveys from your clients.  Test new methods.  Always continue to educate yourself.  Over time, if you’re truly passionate about what you do, this naturally starts to develop.  Continue to learn, but be sure to study and identify every scenario and trait of a good coach.  If you’re only learning about anatomy, proper exercise selections, etc…you’re selling yourself short.

Jared Woolever – MS, CSCS, TPI, YFS

Client Handout: 10 Things Your Clients Should Know About Your Group Training Program

A few weeks ago I was thinking about all of the things that I wish our clients knew about our training program.  Group training definitely makes it more difficult to educate your clients in comparison to one-on-one training.  That is why it is imperative to have systems in place to make sure you are educating your clients as much as possible.

Here are a few good ways to increase client education:

  • Educational speeches before, during and after training sessions
  • Educational Handouts
  • Email Newsletters and Blogs
  • FB Fan Page Updates

We have always used these options, but more recently have started getting educational posters made. These posters highlight some of the most important aspects of our training program that we feel people should know. For example we have all of our Level 1 Corrective Exercises put together on a poster so that people can quickly reference them if they forget.  (available as a PDF on our product Smart Group Training Volume 1 – Screening and Corrective Exercise)


I have also made the Top 10 List below into a poster and put it on our wall.  This explains some of the things that I thought our clients should know.

Feel free to use this and edit for your particular business. Jared made some edits and used each point as a separate poster for his studio.  Regardless of what you put and how you present it,  I think having 10 of your beliefs for people to rally behind is a good idea to get everyone on the same page.

This is what I came up with for my business:

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Your CFR Training Program

  1. You can control the intensity of each workout with your own effort.
  2. Pain increases cortisol and cortisol increases body fat.  There is no benefit to working out in pain.  Avoid the painful patterns and train the non-painful patterns.
  3. Soreness is ok, but it’s not marker of a good workout.  Just because you aren’t’ sore the next day, don’t think that you didn’t train smart
  4. Stacking fitness on top of dysfunction will only lead to injury or plateau.  That is why we use the FMS screen to find your dysfunctions and work on cleaning up your weakest links
  5. Overtraining is a major contributor to lack of results and people quitting training.  If you workout more than 3 times per week, it is highly recommended to take a recovery week every 5-6 weeks and do light training or complete rest.
  6. Lifting weights will not make women bulky!! It will make you strong and lean.  Not lifting weights will make you frail and skinny-fat.
  7. You get much better results from doing a less challenging exercise in good form than you will from a more challenging progression in bad form.  Form before intensity
  8. If your goal is fatloss, it’s important to know that you typically can’t out-train a bad diet
  9. Recovery is just as important as the workout.  A good post workout meal, 7-8 hours of sleep, stress reduction, and tissue quality work are essential to a balanced program
  10. We are not going to do any sit-ups and crunches.  Your lumbar spine is made to stabilize, not flex and extend repeatedly under load.  We do stabilization exercises for the core, and if your form is right you are working your core on EVERY exercise that we select.  Core training at it’s best is trying to maintain good posture under a load or force that is trying to alter that posture.

WHAT DO YOU THINK??  What did I forget, what changes would you make?  We would love to hear what you think, so please post your comments below.


Steve Long