Is suspension training a good way to build muscle and keep your body fit?
Loved by some, hated by others.
Today I’ll discuss the suspension training pros and cons.
And to help me out, I asked 3 REAL experts for their opinion.
Ok, let’s dive in!
Nice To Know About The Suspension Trainer System
Suspension training is a unique form of strength training, allowing you to use your body weight for resistance with a system of ropes.
While this type of training has been around since the early 19th century, its latest form comes in Total Resistance eXercise (TRX), developed by former Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick.
Suspension training gives you a full-body workout while building up your core and increasing your muscular endurance.
With suspension training, you have the ability to train at whatever level you feel comfortable with. By adjusting your body’s position, you can either increase or decrease your resistance.
The suspension trainer can be tied to ceiling beams and also door frames for use at home or when on-the-road in hotel rooms.
TRX is used by U.S. soldiers, Major League Baseball players, UFC fighters, and Olympic athletes.
But is suspension training for you?
Let’s look at some of the suspension training pros and cons:
The Suspension Training Pros And Cons
Suspension trainer systems come with both pros and cons.
First, let’s look at some of the pros:
The Suspension Trainer Pros
The Suspension Trainer Is Both Practical And Effective!
You actually can work out your entire body using the ropes and your body weight as resistance to build strength.
It doesn’t get any more practical than that?
No clunky weights or excessively large machines needed. Suspension training is all done with a series of ropes and webbing.
You can literally take it with you anywhere:
- Train outdoors
- Train within the comfort of your own home
- Train at the hotel room
- Train at your office
- Train in your cabin
The places where you can get your swat on using the suspension trainer is limitless.
And you know what?
This rope-thingy is effective as h***!
By using one of these best suspension trainers, you will add invaluable variation to your exercise program, -resulting in a stronger and fitter body!
There is no significant difference between training with weights vs training with suspension trainer with regards to improvements in strength, power, speed, or jumping ability.
Source: mensfitness.com – Study Shows TRX Builds Muscle Like Weights
Train At Your Own Pace
Suspension training is all about working at a level that you feel comfortable with.
Does a specific exercise seem too tricky for now?
Try another exercise or modify the workout so that it’s a bit easier.
By changing the position of your feet, you can adjust the resistance level within a couple of seconds, – from beginner friendly to Hulk-worthy.
I asked Scott Moody, founder and CEO of AthleteFIT & SoccerfitAcademy, an acknowledged veteran within the exercise industry what he sees as the suspension trainers strongest sales argument:
What do you think is the nr.1 argument for incorporating suspension straps to your exercise routine?
“Suspension training allows for a change of pace from the ordinary workouts. The loading (intensity) can actually be fairly high, often higher than using light dumbbells. So as it is perceived as an “easy, body weight” exercise, it can actually be quite the opposite.
Another interesting aspect is that it allows the user to do some creative activities that challenge them in new ways. For instance the “Pike to Push Up” or “Atomic Push Up” is a great way to get the core involved and talk about core control during what is often perceived as an upper body exercise.
The “Single Legged Suspended Squat” exercise mimics the Rear Leg Elevated Lunge, but adds a degree of instability which challenges the hip.
I love the suspension trainers, and they often provide a much more challenging workout than traditional body weight training.”
Take notice of what he says about the exercise variations you can perform with this piece of equipment. There are 1000s of variations and different “combos” for you to start exploring while playing out with the straps.
And that’s pretty darn cool!
One Piece Of Exercise Equipment, 100s Of Exercises
There are 100s of suspension training exercises that can be done with a single suspension trainer system:
- Bicep curls
- Oblique crunches
- Pull ups
Among a ton of different exercises, all of the above can be done only using a suspension trainer.
Suspension Training Can Benefit Both Beginners And Pros
People at all fitness levels can use suspension training.
From professional athletes and the members of the U.S. military to everyday people -suspension training can benefit everyone no matter how fit or unfit you are!
You don’t believe me? Well, let’s ask a real expert…
Do you believe suspension training is suited for novices as well as experienced individuals?
“As with most exercise equipment, it’s not the equipment itself that is or isn’t suitable, it’s what you do with it that will determine whether it is recommended for specific populations or not.
The great thing about suspension training is that it can be modified to suit a huge range of clients.
Exercises can be regressed with ease to suit clients who lack fitness and/or skill. Effective use of mechanical principles allows intensity to be adapted vastly with minimal time.
I am reluctant to give a blanket recommendation for suspension training for novices because a true novice may well benefit from building a base first in a stable environment before moving on to suspension training, although with the right training and knowledge a fitness professional can utilize suspension training with clients of almost any ability.”
As Sam points out if you’re a complete beginner in the world of fitness, you should consider taking up some PT classes before starting your suspension training adventure.
But this applies to all kinds of exercise. – Having some professional guidance before going solo will provide you with the necessary knowledge you need to keep injury free and a proper program to take you to the next level as “advanced novice”.
There you have it.
Less Tension is Placed on Joints and Tendons
While tension on muscles helps build strength, too much stress placed on your joints and tendons can cause injuries.
Reverse long term damage done to your body through lifting by adding suspension training to your routine.
Your body will thank you for it!
Gives You Numerous Pulling Options
Suspension training lets you do all kinds off pull exercises in a good and effective manner.
Pull exercises is golden for strengthening your back, and the suspension trainer lets you hit those juicy back muscles in all kinds of angles.
The latissimus dorsi muscle is highly active during many upper-body pulling exercises and may be maximised by using heavy loads and a mix of horizontal and vertical pulling.
Increases The Demand For Stability and Balance
TRX increases the demand for stability and balance compared to traditional exercise forms.
A lot of people have weak stability in shoulders and hips. The suspension trainer addresses these issues and helps to give your body a healthier form.
And due to the increased demand for stability, some exercises will be pretty hard to perform even without the need of adding load.
I asked Jason Anderson, – certified personal trainer, strength & conditioning specialist and manager of health and fitness at Owensboro Health for a quick view on the suspension trainer:
What do you think is the nr.1 argument for incorporating suspension straps to your exercise routine?
Here’s his answer:
“I would say the #1 benefit from using suspension training – like TRX – would be a couple of things:
1. Core stability has to happen for most all exercises so engaging the core to become stronger.
2. The use of additional muscle groups for stabilization since you are not operating on a solid platform.
To see what I mean by this, try a push up using the TRX and you’ll see.”
As Jason mentions, try doing a push up in the suspension trainer. I bet you 5$ you’ll struggle to reach 10 perfect reps…
Suspension Training Gets Rid of The Fat
You know what?
It’s awesome for weight loss too!
Because most suspension training revolves around strengthening the core and shoulders, more muscles are used, which means you’re burning the most calories and fat from your body.
How cool is that!?
Suspension training is a simple and effective way for individuals to burn calories, stimulate cardiovascular adaptations and achieve a moderate-intensity cardiovascular workout.
Reference: Scientific & Academic Publishing – Physiologic and Metabolic Effects of a Suspension Training Workout
The Suspension Trainer Cons
Yeah, I know! Quite a few pretty good pros there!
So, will the cons outweigh the pros?
Let’s find out!
Not For The Weakest
While excellent for building up your core strength, there are those who argue that weaker individuals may not have the power or ability to perform suspension training workouts successfully.
But as pointed out by Sam Holliday, the needed “basic strength” could be gained during classes with a professional trainer.
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If Not Performed Right, Suspension Training Can Cause Injuries
Suspension training can cause injury to those who do not know what they are doing —however, that can be said about any workout or method of training.
To avoid any unpleasant damages to your body, you should have a professional trainer work with you to be sure your technique is ok.
Focus on doing the exercises as they should be done. To build a healthy body, you must always strive to maintain perfect technique in every exercise you do.
Not a Stand-Alone Body Building Tool
The significant demand for stability might “steal” some of your power during pressing, resulting in not all of your effort being converted into lean muscle building.
To build real strength, the suspension trainer is best used combined with a set of dumbbells or rubber band, – it’s not ideally suited as a stand-alone bodybuilding all-in-one-gym.
Provides Only Moderate “Leg Days”
Utilizing only the suspension trainer, there are limited possibilities to get that deadly leg-day going.
Although you can get some pretty good leg workouts done, the suspension trainer is primarily a piece of equipment aimed at your upper body, – from the hips and up.
Suspension Training: Full Body 10 Exercise Workout For Beginners
The following are 10 suspension training exercises that can be done pretty much anywhere with little assembly required.
Single Leg Lunge to Forward Squat: Using suspension trainer to strengthen your quads and glutes.
Single Arm Back Row: Hanging on to the rope with one arm and pulling yourself in to strengthen back; go lower to increase tension.
Suspended Chest Press: Basically standing pushups with both hands in either handle. Step back for a greater challenge.
Tricep Extensions: Press up with hands in both rings.
Shoulder Pulls: Lean back and pull yourself back up to standing position using the suspension trainer. There are many variations of this workout with varying degrees of tension on the biceps versus chest.
Bicep Curls: A great way to pump up your arm muscles! Lean back like in the Shoulder Pull except this time use your biceps to get you back to standing. Lift your foot for greater core exercise.
Body Saw: Get into a plank position with feet in both loops; shift body back-and-forth for a great core workout!
Atomic Push-up Crunch: Feet still in both loops; get yourself into a push-up position. From there, drop the chest, push-up, and crunch by bringing your knees into your chest. Go for the 30-40 seconds for these in place of reps.
Oblique Swing: Get back into plank position on elbows and swing your feet side-to-side. Great for lower back, abs, and obliques.
Suspended Hand Stand Pushups: Walk yourself back with hands until feet are in the air at about 80 degrees and do pushups like that!
Now, go get yourself fit!
Final Words: Suspension Trainer Pros Kicks The Cons
You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that I really love the suspension training system.
The “pros” knocks out the “cons” seven days a week. At least that’s my opinion.
The “pros” knocks out the “cons” seven days a week.
If you want to give it a try too but do not have the ca$h-money to invest in the TRX or any of the other suspension training brands?
No problem! Here’s the solution:
Scooby style SRX suspension trainer. 6 dollars and 20 minutes later you will have your own suspension trainer which works just as fine as the branded ones.
Why don’t you make make yourself one and then do the “10 Exercise Workout”?
Or maybe the pros of suspension training did not convince you to try it out? Relax! I’ve got TONS of other at home strength exercise tips for you.
Be sure to go check them out!
Other Helpful Resources
- Aliveandwellfitness.ca – Where To Set Up Your TRX Band