Suspension training vs resistance bands. Two very different ways of doing exercise – both with their own set of strengths and benefits.
So, with that said. Which of the two should YOU choose?
Well, that depends on a lot of things. Read on to the end, and I’ll help you decide:
What is Suspension Training?
Suspension training first became popular among Navy SEALs who were limited on equipment and had to find creative ways to stay fit.
Randy Hetrick was one of the first to develop a suspension training set-up by using parachute webbing and other on-hand items. He later went on to build TRX – the first mass-produced suspension training kit. Since then, other companies have made their unique suspension training equipment, some of which are better geared toward beginners.
The idea behind suspension training is to allow the trainee to perform a wide range of movements and train a large percentage of their body without needing any extra equipment like dumbbells, barbells, or gym machines (1, 2).
Training kits typically come with fixed-length straps that have handles for us to grab onto. We can attach the straps to various anchor points and perform a wide range of bodyweight movements.
What is Resistance Band Training?
Resistance bands have become popular, and many people use them as portable alternatives to free weights (3). Thanks to their affordability and usefulness, they’ve also become an essential addition to any fit person’s travel bag and home gym.
Unlike suspension training, the goal here is to attach the band over something and have it provide resistance for you. For example, you can step over a resistance band, grab it with both hands, and perform bicep curls.
You can also add resistance bands to core barbell lifts like the deadlift, so you get more resistance near the top (4).
You can also use resistance bands to assist you in different movements like pull-ups. In doing so, the band can take away some of the resistance and allow you to do complete repetitions.
How Does Suspension Training Differ From Resistance Bands?
At first glance, both types of equipment seem similar enough. You’re essentially training with straps, and you can do a wide range of movements. Both options are also viable alternatives to traditional weight training.
The primary difference comes from the exercise options. Suspension training is primarily about using the equipment to perform bodyweight movements like inverted rows, push-ups, and planks. The goal is to use your body to provide resistance.
On the other hand, resistance bands are much more versatile because you can use them for various movements, including making bodyweight exercises more challenging. For instance, you can wrap a band behind your back and make push-ups more challenging. You can attach the band on something and do horizontal back rows. You can even step over a band, wrap it over your shoulders, and do front squats.
You can also use resistance bands to perform various exercises like chest press, chest flyes, row, pulldowns, bicep curls, tricep extensions, and more.
Another use for resistance bands is to have them assist you while learning a challenging exercise. For instance, many people find it incredibly difficult to do their first pull-up. Resistance bands offer you the ability to remove some of the resistance and make the movement more easy. In doing so, you get to learn the movement pattern before you have the necessary strength.
Suspension Training vs Resistance Bands: Is One Better Than The Other?
When looking at both types of equipment, it should be clear that each offers its unique benefits. For instance, suspension training is fantastic for getting better at using your body weight for various activities. Movements like the TRX push-up also teach you how to engage your core better and remain stable.
In contrast, resistance bands offer their unique set of benefits. For instance, they provide great versatility, and you can use them to perform various exercises. You can also store them easily and take them with you on the road. Plus, you can use them to make bodyweight movements easier or more challenging, depending on your needs.
Instead of looking at it like, “Which is better?” we should consider, “Which is better for my situation and goals?” This will depend on your training preferences, goals, limitations, and current fitness level. For instance, a complete beginner might benefit more from a set of resistance bands, where an advanced person might have better use for a suspension kit.
It also depends on what type of workouts you want to do. You might naturally find resistance bands more engaging, so why force yourself to do another type of training you don’t enjoy?
Also, many people choose to combine multiple types of training for a more varied and engaging fitness experience. Investing a bit of money in a suspension kit and resistance band set will cost you a bit more initially, but you will have great flexibility in the long run.
Resistance bands and suspension training kits are fantastic pieces of equipment. Each offers its unique benefits, and both allow you to have productive workouts.
It would be difficult to say which of the two is better in the long run, as there are many factors to consider. Plus, nothing is to say that you have to restrict yourself. You can get both types of equipment and combine them for a fun and engaging training experience.
Do you want to learn more about home workouts? Check out my MASSIVE at-home strength-building archive – LOADED with workouts and actionable fitness tips!
See you there!
Other Helpful Resources
- Resistance Band Workout: The Ultimate Guide
- Are Resistance Bands Good for Building Muscle? Science And Facts
- Best Resistance Band: Reviews and Top Picks
- Benefits of Resistance Bands vs Free Weights: What Should you Choose?
- The Beginners ABC to Getting Ripped With Resistance Bands
- Gaedtke A, Morat T. TRX Suspension Training: A New Functional Training Approach for Older Adults – Development, Training Control and Feasibility. Int J Exerc Sci. 2015;8(3):224-233. Published 2015 Jul 1.
- Fong SS, Tam YT, Macfarlane DJ, et al. Core Muscle Activity during TRX Suspension Exercises with and without Kinesiology Taping in Adults with Chronic Low Back Pain: Implications for Rehabilitation. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:910168. doi:10.1155/2015/910168
- Lopes, Jaqueline Santos Silva et al. “Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” SAGE open medicine vol. 7 2050312119831116. 19 Feb. 2019, doi:10.1177/2050312119831116
- Shoepe, Todd C et al. “The Effects of 24 weeks of Resistance Training with Simultaneous Elastic and Free Weight Loading on Muscular Performance of Novice Lifters.” Journal of human kinetics vol. 29 (2011): 93-106. doi:10.2478/v10078-011-0043-8