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Suspension training has become quite popular in recent years. Some use it for a great home-based workout, some do it as a part of group training classes, and some gyms even have different suspension trainers available for their regular members to use. But do you know how to get the most out of your suspension training? Below are a few tips to make sure you can.
It might look like suspension trainers are all basically the same, but they can honestly be quite different. As such, you’ll want to pick one that adequately serves your needs. For instance, a TRX type device is a good for all around suspension training and will let you do most exercises. However, a Lifeline USA Jungle Gym is preferred by some as it allows you to strap your feet into it, making it more versatile.
Something like Blast Straps from EliteFTS might look overly simplistic as they just seem to be cable crossover handles attached to nylon straps. However, their increased weight makes them much more stable. If you’re only planning on doing the most basic of suspension training movements, or are want to do some of these exercises weighted, this is a good option.
The original suspension trainer is actually gymnastics rings. Their circular shape can provide a little more difficult (and uncomfortable) grip for some. However, they’re pretty much necessary if you’ll be wanting to do certain movements. For example, a muscle up (a pullup into a dip) is only really possible on gymnastics rings. Any other apparatus with a straight, non-circular handle makes movements such as those and attempting an iron cross virtually impossible.
Some lifters might be able to bench press a lot, but still have a hard time doing pushups. This isn’t because their chest, shoulders, and / or triceps are weak. Rather, it’s because their core isn’t strong enough to keep their torso aligned.
This is often an issue many have when they start suspension training. For example, when doing a rowing exercise, their back might be strong enough, but their core is lacking. Therefore, when they row themselves up, their body doesn’t remain straight.
Because of this, you’re always better off starting with easier versions of exercises for a while. Ensure you have proper core strength / stability, and that you’re able to hold yourself in proper position throughout the entire range of motion before moving to harder variations. Learn how to build a strong core here.
Sometimes trainees want to dive right into exercises, but find them much more difficult than they might imagine. For instance, leaning backwards and curling your face toward your hands seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult, but your first attempt could find you feeling much weaker than you thought you were.
Don’t be afraid to use your legs in a scenario like this. You don’t want to lift with your legs, per se, but rather step into a position that puts less resistance on the working muscle. At the same time, there will be exercises that you can use your legs to assist working muscles until their strength is up to par. Feel free to use the extra help for as long as you need it.
Once your muscles are strong enough to perform a given movement, don’t be afraid to decrease your leverage so that the resistance on your targeted muscles is increased. However, if you soon max that out, you might be forced to be creative.
For example, say you’re doing suspension rows. You might start off by leaning back with your torso at 60-70 degrees. Once that’s easy, lean back further such that your body is at 45 degrees. Once that’s no longer difficult, lean all the way back to 20-30 degrees. Eventually, you can get to the point where your body is horizontal with your feet on the floor. But what do you do when that gets easy?
This is when it’s time to find a new alternative. You could continue to decrease the leverage by elevating your feet onto a bench or box. You could put on a weighted vest for extra resistance. Switching to a one-armed version to effectively double the resistance might be a good fit for you. If nothing else, add static holds for a couple seconds at the bottom, top, and middle of each rep.
The excellent thing about suspension training is that not only can you do almost any exercise with it, but you can make it about as hard or easy as you want. Increase or decrease leverage to alter resistance based on your strength level. Get creative by adding new things to the mix if need be. And be sure you’re actually using the right suspension trainer for exercises you think you want to do. Do all that and you’ll find yourself never getting bored with your workouts.