Suspension Training: Everything You Need To Know

An in-depth review of the benefits and risks of suspension training. Suspension Training: Everything You Need To Know

What type of training do you do at home or in the gym? Do you train in the morning before work or after work? Considering these options may determine what type of training you do when you work out. When you hear someone say they are strength training, the first thing that may come to mind is working with weights. Suspension Training has become increasingly popular among trainers at gyms and at home with in-home systems. This type of training is used with a system of ropes or webbing to allow your own body weight to work against the pull of them. The nice thing about this training is that depending on what type of exercise you do; it is a great muscular and cardiovascular workout.

The attention this type of training has received since it entered into the limelight is mainly due to the new systems that have come out as of late.  Gyms have purchased these type of systems for their trainers to use, and personal trainers can bring them with to clients homes due to the ease of transport.  Physical therapists use a similar type of therapy in their sessions, only instead of a suspension trainer they use resistance bands. The Suspension workouts will consist of gripping the straps in a variety of different ways, then holding the other part of your part of your body against it to perform different moves and balance.  The motion your receiving in doing these moves make it a great system to get a full body workout.

Benefits of Suspension Training

Different Levels
Due to the portability and flexibility of the system, it is easy to simply change the position of your body for different levels of exercise. Different angles, positions, and placement of your legs and arms can determine how difficult your training will be. For this reason, starting slow and working your way to a meaningful workout that works for you is easy to carry out.

Impact Training is Low
Since you are working your body against gravity most of the time, it is easier on your joints. If you have the system set up properly and read the manual, the tension that you use is friendly on your body. This helps for all different sizes, weights, and ages of people that want to work out.

Cardiovascular and Muscular training
Based on the speed and workout you are doing, the training can both work cardiovascular and muscular. An aerobic workout to most seems like doing dancing, aerobics, or even taking classes like jazzercise. Speeding up your workout on a suspension training leads to an aerobic workout.

Core Training
Every movement you do on a suspension trainer works your core. This is because your muscles are constantly battling gravity. Bracing your abs at the beginning of each exercise reinforces your spine and boosts stability. This, in turn, generates more power in your core.

Training Unilaterally
You can isolate one half of your body and focus on getting that half stronger. If for example, you are doing physical therapy, this can help with working one joint or muscle over the other on one side.

Types of Popular Trainer Systems

TRX Original System
This is the original system on the market. The straps come with two handles and foot cradles. It allows people to hook the system to a doorway for those who have no cross beam or bar in the ceiling to hang it from. This is an expensive system, however in terms of overall quality, meaning the construction, handles, and webbing involved in the making of this machine, it is recommended as second to none by reviews and the makers of this equipment. This complete system is used by many in the military for training due to its ergonomic features and easy to switch adjustments for convenient training. This has a carry bag that the whole system will fit into.

TRX Basic Kit
The Basic kit is just that, basic. It will give you the basic benefits of the above system, however, can only be anchored to a doorway. This system is best for someone who doesn’t haven’t an anchor point that is in the ceiling but make sure that your doorway is solid.

Ultimate Body Press Resistance Trainer
This system features many added benefits to the person looking for a mix up of different types of training. This supply lay flat handles, single multi-point anchoring straps, and an extra wide six-inch strap. This can also be used in a doorway for training. The biggest difference in this system versus others out there is the system follows the contours of the body. This system came out on the market at a competitive price rate that allows you to anchor in almost any spot; doorways, rafters, tree limbs.

Bodyweight Fitness System
This system has straps for the door, pull up bar and anchor point. This system is light, extra durable and depending on where you buy it, comes with a 12-week program booklet. The downside to this system is that some have determined that the foot straps are tricky to use.

When you are shopping for a system, try to find one that has a DVD or booklet to show you exactly how to set up the gear and specific exercises. You want the strap quality to be carbon fiber if possible, the handles need to have a comfortable grip for yourself, anchor points need to be sturdy and you would like an easy clean up to your system. A carry case for the whole system is ideal for this and should not weigh a ton.  This allows you to work out wherever you would like.

Using Your Suspension Trainer System

Anchor the straps of your system to a secure spot, like a door frame, monkey bars, tree limb or even a cross beam in the house. Use your feet or hands to hold onto the straps depending on what exercise you are going to do. Your body is going to be split in two parts; one part will be suspended in the air, while the other will be pulling away from the straps to create the resistance needed.

You need to learn the fundamentals of the system you choose first. The key to this is learning to use your body’s relationship with gravity. It is suitable for all levels of training, but you want to start off with simple moves and motion, moving to higher levels.  Doing more complicated moves can make yourself more prone to injury.

In most cases, any new system you use, you will want to start off with upper body easy movements. Placing your hands on the grips and using simple arm movements is a great way to start. Lock your core, avoid friction on the straps to your body and follow the instructions that are given for each exercise that you are going do. Suspension workouts consist of hanging your legs, feet, or even other parts of your body, while using yourself as the resistance to lean back against the straps.  Starting with the arms and leaning back is the best place to start. Some examples of different types of moves are listed below

Low Row
This is a great exercise to help you strengthen your back.  Take ahold of the handles with your hands facing each other, and then lean all the way back until the weight of your body is resting on your hells.  Your arms will be extended out and your body will form a diagonal. Pull yourself back up to the starting position and continue while making sure you are bending your elbows properly so that you don’t hurt yourself.

Squats are great to build lower body strength, and if you add your system to it, it will improve your form and give you stability. Hold both handles in front of your waist, elbows bent by your sides. Lower down into a squat and pull yourself back up, this also gives you support.

Keeping your hands next to your sides, elbows bent, lower into a lung position and pull yourself back up. This will be done with your back to the anchor, and this will give you stability and support.

Everyone knows the standard way of doing a push-up, however, with this system, you can have more control over the angle and more support to do more. This would require putting your feet in the system to hang them and then go ahead to do a regular push up.

Chest Presses
Instead of doing a regular chest press, place yourself facing away from the system with your feet about shoulder-width apart.  Take ahold of the handles and extend your arms out in from of you. Lower your body slightly forward in a diagonal and bend your elbows to lower your chest.  Now take yourself with your arms and go back up again.  This is like doing a chest press on the floor, however you have the extra resistance with the straps.

Glute Bridge
This is like laying on your back, bending your knees and lifting your stomach into the air. With this you will put your feet into the straps and be able to lift your stomach higher and lower with more resistance.

Triceps Press on Knees

With this move you will kneel down and face the system.  Now take the straps but using your grip underhanded and stretch your arms out.  Bend at the elbow and bring your body towards the floor until you can see that your whole body is in a perfect line to the knees.

There are so many different types of exercises that you can do using these machines, that trainers or even you can design a workout that is best for you and your goals. Keep in mind, that you do not want to overdo it, and begin with stretches before and after so that you do not hurt yourself.


Most advocates of the training say that you cannot help but engage your core in doing this type of training.  Most athletes, bodybuilders and expert trainers use this training religiously.  Some experts, however, have issues with the system and for good reason.  Not everything you are shown or taught will be done right unless you are fully trained in how to use the equipment properly.  Here are some of the reasons that not having experience could be cause for concern.

Some of the critics of this system think that the instability of this type of exercise equipment can cause injuries. If you have poor core strength, history of joint or back injuries, this could lead to further damage. Also if you don’t have the settings correct when setting up the system, you could have too much or not enough resistance which will make the straps not stable and could whip you back when you pull or let you fall if pull too hard.

No original core
If your looking to just begin doing workouts, your core is not built up enough to handle this type of training. This could be potentially dangerous for you if you cannot stabilize your entire body, this could lead to using the wrong muscles instead of your core.

Some experts in their field say that if you are not strong enough, or fit enough to do this type of training, you could injure yourself gravely. The worry is hyperextending most of the joints that you use on a daily basis. This would include your wrist, elbows, shoulders, ankles and knees.

As always, before starting any form or type of training routine, check with your doctor to see if you have any underlying conditions that would be a problem. This could be earlier problems with your back, joint pain, or even breathing problems. The nice thing about this type of training, however, is that even if you have some of these conditions, you can adjust the workout to be simple and easy to start you off. If you do have the green light, it might be beneficial to see a trainer first and see what they recommend you do base on your goals.  Make sure that you set reasonable goals for yourself and pace yourself accordingly as to not overdo your training.  Be safe and mindful of what your body tells you as you move ahead.


  1. Garage Gym Builder: Suspension Trainer Guide
  2. NY Times: Fashion Fitness
  3. Men’s Health: Suspension Training
  4. Greatest: Effective TRX Exercises
  5. Wikipedia: Suspension Training