Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

The Battling Ropes® Power Slam. King of the Swing?

By Tim Anderson, CPT
Battling Ropes® Level 2 Coach

The kettlebell swing is the foundation of all the ballistic kettlebell moves. It helps produce power, flexibility, speed and strength. It is a total body conditioner. It is a great tool for your training tool box and there are few exercises that offer as many benefits as the kettlebell swing can.

There is however, one exercise that rivals the swing in its prowess and may even offer more benefits. John Brookfield's Battling Ropes® Power Slam is a tremendous exercise that yields to its victim a host of benefits like no other exercise can. The Power Slam is performed with a 2", 50' long rope that is anchored in the middle the same way you would anchor a rope to perform a Velocity drill with the Battling Ropes®. The user grabs the two ends of the 2" rope, with either an underhand or an overhand grip, and takes about 3 to 5 steps up towards the anchor point. This puts a great deal of slack in the heavy rope. Then, in a "swing" like fashion, the user swings the ends of the rope up and then slams them down in order to try to force a huge wave all the way through the rope to reach the anchor point. This requires a tremendous amount of power in both the up swing and the down swing.

Once again, as it is with Battling Ropes®, there is no momentum here to take advantage of when performing the Power Slam. The user simply has to generate enough force to whip the wave through the slack of the rope to reach the anchor point in rapid fire succession. Many people who have performed kettlebell swings can recall how doing their first set of 10 reps left them a little winded. Performing 10 reps of the Power Slam will leave any experienced kettlebell user almost breathless. The speed and force it takes to create and push a wave to the anchor takes power and determination. You can not fake the Power Slam or "take it easy." If you expect your wave to reach the anchor point, you must force it through.

As I eluded to earlier, the Power Slam's benefits could surpass those of the kettlebell swing. The Power Slam requires a huge hip hinge and an upward explosion. Some users even find that they end up on the balls of their feet as they explode up; others leave the ground. Then at the crest of the wave, a powerful downward slam is required as if you are trying to crack the Earth into pieces beneath you. It is a very athletic move that works the entire body. Like the swing, the Power Slam will help produce power, flexibility, speed, strength, and insane stamina. Unlike the swing, the Power Slam has very little learning curve and it is relatively safe for almost anyone.

The Power Slam forces the user to learn to explode and generate force with their own body; there is very little external loading placed on the user. With a kettlebell swing, the user had better know what they are doing, as the external load can range from one-fourth to half the their bodyweight. I am not saying kettlebell swings are not safe, they are a great exercise. I am only suggesting that the Power Slam offers more safety and better conditioning. As a trainer, the safety aspect of the Power Slam is a wonderful feature when you are working with people who are "movement challenged" and they just can't figure out the swing. Almost anyone can figure out how to do the Power Slam. Just get the wave to the anchor! If you don't do it right, or powerful enough, the wave won't make it. It's as simple as that.

The Power Slam also offers variability to its user. If you want to make it more difficult, you just step closer to the anchor and create more slack in the rope. If you need to "lighten your load" you just step backwards and reduce the slack in the rope. Of course, if you step all the way back, you're about to enjoy some heavy Velocity work. And that in itself is quite a treat; though a bit different than the Power Slam.

If you are not convinced, I urge you to try it for yourself. Perform 10 kettlebell swings, or 20; whatever you like. Perform them anyway you like, Hard-Style, American Style, or your style. Then, perform 10 Power Slams with a 2" rope. I think you'll be amazed at how demanding the Power Slam is; especially if you tried 20! It is a true total body experience.

Again, the Battling Ropes® Power Slam is a safe alternative to the kettlebell swing. Do not be fooled, safe does not mean easy. It simply means less risk of injury and less learning curve when it comes to performing the two moves. Safety aside, if you want to develop explosive power and speed and a body capable of almost anything, get yourself a 2" rope and get aggressive. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.