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Rope Flow Cardio: 4 Ways to Build Heroic Endurance

Let’s explore 4 ways we can use rope flow to build heroic endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

I know that some of you guys who read my articles and watch the videos mainly come for the rope flow bits that I made a while back, whereas others are looking to build their endurance or mobility

It turns out there’s some crossover!

So today we’re gonna look at four ways you can incorporate rope flow cardio training into your movement practice, specifically to build physical and mental endurance. 

At the end, I’ll round things up and share my personal preference. 

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Why Use Rope Flow for Cardio?

Rope flow can be a fun, low-impact way to elevate the heart rate and build cardiovascular fitness. 

It can be a great alternative to more high-impact cardio options such as running and cycling, but may also support our performance in those activities by helping us practice efficient movement patterns. 

Everyone’s experience is different, but some people find that rope flow is more enjoyable than other cardiovascular training methods as it allows them to more easily enter a flow state – akin to that found in dance or certain martial art forms.

Option #1 - Just Go With The Flow

Let’s not overcomplicate things for the sake of it…

One of the simplest and most intuitive ways to build endurance with rope flow is through casual, unstructured play.
There’s no need for set time limits, rigid intervals or to aim for a specific heart rate.

You’ll see a lot of benefits from just going with the flow, so to speak, and enjoying the freedom to switch up the pace and intensity as you see fit.

This is the way to go when you’re initially learning. You could start with short sessions as and when, just practicing the basic movements for a few minutes at a time. This is what I did in the process of rebuilding my body from long covid. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to have to go for a certain time frame. I gradually built up over time as my body recovered and my capacity increased.

As you increase the length of the sessions, you can also mix up the speed and intensity as you see fit. This is similar in some ways to Faartlek training, a Swedish term meaning “speed play”, where there’s not a constant pace or intensity – you just adjust as you go.

This approach allows you to have fun and learn a new skill while still getting your heart rate up and getting some endurance benefits. It allows you to be more spontaneous and creative.

Option #2 - Warm-up & Cool-down Sessions

Rope flow can work as an excellent tool during your warm-up or cool-down around other endurance-based training sessions, particularly running. I also use it prior to strength training, alongside other tools like clubs and maces.

It is a great way to get the body moving, elevate your heart rate and mobilize the spine, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.

If you’re a runner, incorporating rope flow into your warm-up routine allows you to practice movement patterns that can have a direct transfer over to your running gait, like the underhand figure 8. You’re practicing coiling through the core and orienting the head over the standing foot.

Aside from the warm-up, you might find it can also be a nice tool to help wind the body and mind down post-workout, kickstarting that downregulation process after a hard run, for example.

Related: 6 Rope Flow Mobility Exercises for Enhanced Fluidity

Option #3 - Low-Intensity, Steady-State Training

I’ve touched on low heart rate training or zone 2/MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) training a fair bit before, and rope flow can fit right in.

There are plenty of potential health and performance benefits of low intensity, steady state cardio, and rope flow can be a great low impact option to get it done, particularly if you’re not a big fan of running, or you find it raises your heart rate higher than your z2 range.

You’re aiming for a comfortable pace that allows for easy conversation and keeps your heart rate within the prescribed range, which is typically around 180-age, adjusted for various factors. More of that in the videos linked below.

Sessions are continuous and typically at least 20 minutes, building to between 30 to 60 minutes, while staying under your MAF heart rate. Over time, this helps establish a solid aerobic base which will support your general endurance and work capacity.

Option #4 - High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training or HIIT is increasingly popular on the socials and in gyms around the world.

They essentially involve short bursts of high-intensity sprints, interspersed with recovery periods.

There are various ways to structure interval training, allowing you to adjust the intensity, duration, and rest times based on your fitness level and goals.

There’s the popular Tabata protocol, consisting of 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for eight rounds. Or you can opt for longer work periods, such as 4 mins on, with recovery intervals of say 60 seconds. Rope flow seems to work better with the latter.

It’s my opinion, and that of many people smarter than me in the strength and conditioning world, that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) should for the most part be used sparingly and as a supplement to a solid aerobic foundation.

An 80:20 is split in favour of low intensity work, or lower is often suggested, but this will vary depending on your goals.

HIIT is popular because it takes less time, it’s sharable on social media and makes you feel like you’re going to throw up, so it must be working right?

I used intervals a lot in my training through my teens, often without much though other than trying to work as hard as I could. My fear is that for most people it’s too much, too often, and is performed without building the basics first. It’s recipe for injury and burnout.

My Rope Flow Cardio Preference

My preference with rope flow cardio is to combine the first three approaches I mentioned – embracing the freedom of casual play, integrating rope flow into your warm-up and cool-down sessions, and/or incorporating rope flow into your low-intensity, steady-state training to build your aerobic base.

Higher intensity intervals could then be experimented with if they align with your goals or your chosen sport, but I feel that there are better tools for the job, such as sprints, sleds, punchbags, rowing machines, asshole bikes or battle ropes. 

I’m back training BJJ so I get plenty of time with my heart rate high as I get my but kicked all over the mats.

Rope Flow Cardio & Endurance FAQs

Yes, rope flow can be an effective, low impact way to build your cardiovascular fitness. You have the option to scale the intensity from casual, low heart rate training, all the way up to high intensity interval training. Alongside the cardiovascular benefits, rope flow also improves joint mobility and co-ordination, which may transfer over to athletic performance in various sports and activties. 

Rope flow is an effective way to burn calories if you are looking to increase your daily activity levels or work towards a body composition goal. It’s a low impact activity so can be performed for extended time periods. You can also increase the intensity by exerting more force, using a heavier rope, or working towards more complex movement patterns. 

This varies greatly depending on your goals, experience levels and time availability.

When first learning a new skill like rope flow, little and often may be your best bet. I opted for several short sessions of 5-10 minutes at a time, most days of the week.

If using rope flow for your zone 2 style training, then anywhere between 1-4 sessions per week can work well, typically 20-60 minutes each.

For HIIT, it’s best to start conservatively with 1 session a week, potentially upping to 2-3 if it aligns with your goals. 

Over to You

I hope the rope flow mobility routine serves you well! Let me know how you get on, or if you have any questions, dow in the comments below. 

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Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a Movement Coach, Wellness Enthusiast, Online Content Creator, and Founder of HERO Movement. Through articles, videos, courses, and online coaching, his big goal is to help people discover freedom of movement and create lives filled with well-being & adventure.

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