Back in the early 1900s, exercise guru Charles Atlas developed a workout routine that used your own bodyweight to develop impressive muscle mass.
Suspension training has a lot of similarities to the Charles Atlas system but with some incredible advantages that make this style of workout exciting and invigorating. It uses only a couple of simple fabric straps that you can set up in your house, garage, or even outdoors.
Here are some of the top brands and models:
Suspension Trainer Basics
Suspension training is more than just a fad – it’s here to stay. Gyms around the globe are capitalizing on this simple exercise system. While weights and exercise machines have their place, you can achieve the physical condition you’ve always wanted with a basic suspension trainer. Here are a few of the many benefits of using one of these systems in your daily workout routine.
Benefits of Suspension Trainers
Strengthens the core: Probably one of the comments you’ll hear the most from fitness trainers is the need to develop and strengthen the core muscles. Exercises which rely on your body’s own ability to steady itself and provide equilibrium are superior at strengthening your core muscles.
Develops Balance: Some trainers have described suspension training as a form of yoga. Many of the exercises include balance and general flexibility. Many gyms now conduct group sessions that incorporate both muscle-building exercises and those which improve tone and balance.
Cardiovascular Routines: Because of the ease with which you can change from one exercise form to another, fitness coaches have developed routines that have a cardiovascular benefit.
Relaxation: It’s interesting that an exercise system which is used for cardio workouts can also be used in routines, which relax and center the mind. Some fitness centers incorporate relaxation music and aroma therapy into its suspension training programs.
Are All Suspension Trainers Equal?
The simple truth is, no. Not all suspension trainers are equal. However, the differences in the various manufacturers’ styles are in the quality and design of the equipment.
When it comes down to the basics, all suspension trainers incorporate a pair of straps that are suspended from a heavy-duty steel chin-up bar or similar support system.
As you examine various brands of suspension trainers, you’ll begin to see the differences between the higher and lower-end models. You don’t want your fitness equipment to wear out, so be certain that the suspension trainer you purchase will meet the demands of your exercise routine.
Be sure to check the type of materials with which the straps are made, as well as the design of the handles or foot cradles. Your feet should slide easily into the cradles, allowing you to transition easily and safely from vertical exercises to horizontal ones.
You also need to examine how the suspension trainer is connected to your support system. Some are designed for in-home use and can be attached to an interior door frame. Be sure that the attachments will work on your home’s door design.
The buckles attached to the straps are also something to consider. Plastic or nylon buckles may provide lower cost, but they are also more prone to breakage. If you’re planning on using your suspension trainer for regular heavy-duty workouts, you may want to find a set that includes high-quality metal buckles.
Most manufacturers provide a guide for exercises that can be done with a suspension trainer. Many of the better quality trainers include several DVDs which include workouts of varying intensity. They often include demonstrations of hundreds of possible exercises and variations. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSUpS1QMo1M)
As with any exercise program, you should check with your doctor before starting. Suspension trainers are, for the most part, safe to use. However, for people who have a history of joint or back problems, the suspension trainer needs to be used with care.
People who have poorly developed core muscles may also find that workouts involving suspension trainers can be painful to use in the beginning.
Suspension trainers have a natural instability, due to the use of flexible straps to support the body during exercise. It’s that instability which helps in developing core strength, yet that same instability can result in injuries if used improperly or by individuals who are not prepared for the intensity of a suspension-trainer workout.
Choosing the Best Suspension Trainer
There are hundreds of models available, but if you’re looking for a gym-quality piece of exercise equipment, the suspension trainers reviewed below are at the top of everyone’s list.
TRX Suspension Trainer Basic Kit
TRX has been equipping gyms and universities for years. The Suspension Trainer Basic Kit is used in professional gyms, including every professional football, baseball, basketball and soccer team in the country. You’ll also find the TRX Suspension Trainer Basic Kit in the workout gyms of pro golfers, boxers, swimmers, snow skiers, and runners.
Pros: This model of suspension trainer can be used anywhere. Customers have even reported taking it camping and successfully hanging it from tree branches for an enjoyable workout. The design is such that you can use it for easy workouts or intense, interval-training style exercise routines. The design allows for low-impact exercises so you don’t experience unwanted muscle strain.
Cons: The biggest complaint has nothing to do with the actual equipment, but with the quality of the exercise videos included with the basic kit. Some reported that the DVD wouldn’t work at all, and others stated that the video contained only one simple exercise.
Lifeline Jungle Gym XT
This suspension trainer provides a high-quality workout to athletes of all skill levels and strengths.
Pros: Unlike many of the other trainers on the market, the Jungle Gym XT includes a split suspension system which allows the distance between the straps to be widened or narrowed, depending on the size of the person using it. The handles include an ergonomic design which prevents hands from slipping during your workout. The straps are made from industrial quality material and resist even the heaviest users.
Cons: While the split-suspension design provides excellent flexibility, it also requires extra set-up time. That’s not an issue if it’s used primarily by only one person, but if the whole family wants to use it, there may be a significant amount of time readjusting the suspension system.
And The Winner Is!
Sometimes it can be difficult to pick a winner from such a closely matched lineup of suspension trainers. But without any extra discussion, the TRX Training is the clear winner. If you’re looking for a versatile, high-quality piece of exercise equipment, you don’t need to look any further than the Titan.
Concerning durability, the TRX outlasts the competition. Its popularity among coaches at high schools, universities, and fitness centers is a testament to this product’s quality.
Safety is always a concern with exercise equipment, and the TRX takes that into consideration. The instructional materials provide exceptional guidance on exercise routines and how to best utilize the TRX for maximum benefit with minimal risk.
What makes the TRX the best suspension trainer is that its design makes it ideal for everyone to use. Regardless if you’re an experienced gym-goer or just a stay-at-home mom who appreciates a fulfilling workout, the TRX works for everyone.