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You don’t necessarily need weights to build and tone muscle or strengthen your core. You also may not like to do just simple body weight exercises like pull ups. Where the former limits you to where you can exercise, the latter can limit you to the types of exercises possible for your abilities. However, almost anyone can use suspension trainers and reap the benefits from the get go. Our best suspension trainer reviews cover only the top rated products on the market and there’s a kit for every kind of budget, so you’re bound to find one that suits your needs.
We’ll first explain suspension training in detail and then review the best kits to buy. We’ll end with suspension training benefits and a quick guide and video as to the types of exercises you can do.
- 1 What is Suspension Training and How to Do It
- 2 Which Suspension Trainer is Best?
- 3 Top Rated Home Suspension Trainer Kit
- 4 Best Value Suspension Straps
- 5 Best Bang for the Buck
- 6 Benefits of Suspension Training
- 7 Suspension Trainer Exercises
What is Suspension Training and How to Do It
Suspension training involves a pair of straps suspended from the top of a door frame, wall, ceiling, or vertical post with the other ends featuring hand grips and foot cradles. You grip these ends either with your hands or your feet and allow your body to move away from the suspension point against gravity. Your muscles work hard to control the movements and you’re working against your own body weight. For example, you can do forward lunges while holding onto the hand grips of the suspension straps. This is one of the easiest exercises. Suspension strap high rows are more difficult but you can control the level of difficulty by increasing or decreasing the angle of your body to the ground.
Resistance bands are similar in that they are also anchored to something while you work against the resistance force that they proved. However, they are usually anchored to the ground by your feet while you work your arms, or anchored to a door jamb for some leg exercises. In these cases, you’re not really using your body weight, so your core is not as activated as when you use suspension training straps.
The most common type of suspension anchor is a door anchor. It can be used any place that has a door, as it goes over the top of a door frame and you close the door to fix the anchor point. There is no need for any permanent fixture and you can use it in your hotel room or even at home as long as you’re at a beginner or intermediate level. If you want to do advanced workouts, it is better to use a suspension anchor that you can mount from the ceiling or wall. This kind of anchor can also work for attaching the straps to a tree, pole or fence. If your ceiling is very high or you need more clearance when anchoring to a tree, then you can use an extension strap that is often included in your kit or available to buy from the same brand. This gives you extra long straps for complete versatility.
If you’re not looking for body weight resistance training and are more interested in body conditioning and muscle toning, then Pilates with resistance is probably a better option for you. If you have the space and the budget, consider a Pilates reformer. Otherwise get a Pilates Tower. If space is really tight and you only want light muscle toning then consider a Pilates Chair.
Suspension trainers can also be used to stretch parts of your body during warm ups and cool downs. They’re especially useful if you don’t have the floor space or budget to get a full body stretching machine.
Which Suspension Trainer is Best?
When doing a suspension trainer comparison, there are essentially two types of suspension exercise straps to consider. The first type is the TRX type equipment that use a single anchor with the two straps splitting from the anchor strap somewhere below. You can adjust the length of the entire system equally by just adjusting the single anchor strap clip. Some users may feel like this type of system requires more core strength to stabilize themselves. You’ll be able to do plenty of exercises with this system but not as many as you could with the other.
The second type consists of two anchors, each having its own strap and own length adjustment clip. The latter takes longer to adjust and you have to ensure that both straps are equal in length. However, the latter system allows you to adjust the distance between the two anchors for more exercise variety. Beginners can more easily choose exercises that are easier to do in terms of balance and stability and work their way to more difficult exercises as their core muscles get strong.
In both cases, for upper body and core workouts you use the hand grips, while for lower body workouts you use the foot cradles.
Top Rated Home Suspension Trainer Kit
TRX Training – Pro 3 Suspension Training Kit
If you have the budget and you only want the best suspension training equipment, then choose the TRX Training – Pro 3 Kit. You don’t have to worry about risky moves with this one, as its maximum weight capacity is a whopping 350 lbs. This is a single anchor point trainer that you can anchor to the ceiling, wall, door or even a tree. The single anchor means that you have to put in more effort to stabilize your core, which makes it great for those looking to increase that challenge in their workouts.
It’s a kit that works well for beginners but will follow you as you get better and stronger as time goes by. With the entire kit weighing under 2 lbs, it is possible to travel with it as well. In fact, it comes with its own travel bag. This is the preferred suspension trainer kit that you’ll find in commercial settings because it can take extensive long term use.
This is a very versatile kit, as it can be used just about anywhere. The package contains 3 different types of anchors – a door anchor, a ceiling or wall anchor, and an anchor for a pole, tree of side of a deck. The suspension training straps feature upgraded webbing for unmatched strength and can be adjusted anywhere from 3 feet to 6 feet. However, this kit also comes with an extender to allow you to go upto 9 feet if needed. With this extender, handle to handle will be about 10 feet. There is a locking carabiner to deter theft so you can leave it suspended outside after your workout instead of having to set it up each time. You also get an 8 workout video and an 8 week workout program.
The foot cradles are large enough for most foot sizes but are not adjustable. The handle grips are made of textured rubber with an anti-microbial treatment, giving you a secure grip for every type of exercise. The adjusting clips are easy enough to use but you will need two hands as the design ensures that there is no slippage while you’re working out.
The only real downside to the TRX Pro 3 is the price but if you’re looking for the most durable option with complete versatility, then this is the one for you.
TRX Training – Suspension Trainer Basic Kit
For a slightly lower price you get two anchors instead of three and no extender strap, but the Basic Kit version of the TRX Training Suspension kit is just as durable and versatile as the Pro 3 version. Instead of rubber handles, this one has foam handles with webbing for complete long duration comfort.
You get the suspension anchor and the door anchor, the former of which allows you to use the trainer just about anywhere, including outdoors with a tree or park fence. If you buy a separate inexpensive ceiling or wall anchor or the X-mount anchor from TRX, you can use just the strap’s clip to attach the trainer to it. Any room with a 8′-9′ ceiling will work, as you can use the straps from 3′ to 6′ without anything else.
It’s really easy to travel with the straps and the door anchor using the provided mesh carry bag. The entire kit weighs just 1.6 lbs. The anchor is padded and won’t damage the hotel door.
All in all, this is a great kit for beginners and intermediate users but it is possible to buy the extender and a ceiling mount separately to increase the versatility of exercises. You also get downloadable workouts to access online.
Best Value Suspension Straps
Lifeline Jungle Gym XT
The TRX trainers use a single anchor point for the straps, but the Lifeline Jungle Gym XT uses two anchor points. There are positives and negatives to this. Beginners will like the fact that the dual anchors require less stabilization effort in certain positions, while pros will like the extra variety in strength training exercises and sheer power required for other positions. Since the distance between the anchors can be varied to anything you want, it’s easier to target specific muscle groups and adjust the level of difficulty of workouts.
However, the downside to using dual anchors is the fact that you have to adjust two different straps for length each time you switch to a different exercise and ensure that each strap is of equal length. With a single anchor you can adjust just the portion of strap above where it splits into two so there’s less resting time between each exercise.
The package consists of 2 suspension straps, each 8 feet long but have end adjustors and inline buckles to shorten the length if needed. The handles are made of rubber with easy in-foot cradles. You also get a door anchor for each strap that won’t make scuff marks. The Duro-Link connection strap let’s you attach the straps to a tree or pole as well. To help you with your workouts, there’s a wall chart in full color and a downloadable video. The whole kit weighs 2.89 lbs and each strap can handle up to 250 lbs.
A few customers say that the buckles sometimes don’t keep the strap length in place and there may be slight slippage at times. However, these reports are in the minority. If you’re on a budget and dual anchors are preferable, then this is a very good alternative to the much more expensive TRX brand products.
Buy the Lifeline Jungle Gym XT.
rip:60 Home Gym Suspension Trainer
The rip:60 Suspension Trainer is similar to the TRX system, as it utilizes a single anchor to suspend a pair of rip:60 straps. The overall height of 9 feet is difficult to shorten and requires some effort if you have low to standard ceilings. A door anchor is provided with a piece of fabric to protect from damage to your door. If you want to mount it anywhere else, you’ll need to buy a separate mount.
This is a very good value set that can handle up to 300 lbs of weight, but these are exercise straps with handles for hand grips that double up as foot cradles. As long as you wear proper shoes, this shouldn’t be a problem, but those that like to go barefoot may find it uncomfortable. However, the straps are nice and long and can be adjusted to a maximum of 9 feet. There’s a pin that you can remove to allow you to do a few rotational exercises as well. In addition to the straps you get a travel bag, 12 workout DVDs, an exercise chart, and a 60 day nutrition guide.
While some customers like the workouts provided, you will probably have to alter them to suit your time frame and maybe include your own recovery time. The handles are not as comfortable to use in the beginning but most have no problem with them after a few uses.
Buy the rip:60 Home Gym Suspension Trainer.
Best Bang for the Buck
Ultimate Body Press Bodyweight Resistance Trainer
The final option here is the least expensive one of the bunch, but occasional users, beginners and intermediate users should find it adequate for their needs. It is surprisingly versatile for its price.
This system comes with two independent straps that you can separately loop through two mounts or at different points over a bar. Each strap features a cambuckle for length adjustment going up to 6 feet. You can use the provided utility strap to give you a single anchor from which you suspend both straps. This extends the overall length by another foot or so. Either way, the attachment system is quick and easy to use, as there are indices to help you adjust both straps to equal lengths. A single S hook is provided as a door anchor and it also works well in other scenarios if you have a mount for it.
In addition to the straps, you also get a travel bag and a full color poster with a variety of workouts to try.
Benefits of Suspension Training
Suspension training systems allow your body to get into positions and angles that you can’t with weights. This means that there are muscle groups that can be targeted that you couldn’t otherwise and you’ll get the added benefits of enhancing joint stability and flexibility. This is a great substitute for a functional trainer, as suspension training can be done anywhere indoors or outdoors and a kit typically cost much less.
A beginner can start with the easiest of exercises with her body in the simplest position so that she doesn’t have to strain too much against gravity. As she gets more skillful and strong, the angles can be steadily increased and she can try more difficult exercises.
For those who have trouble staying motivated because of lack of variety, that becomes less of a problem if your workout regimen includes a suspended bodyweight trainer system.
In addition to strength training, it can be a good addition your cardiovascular workouts as well, as certain exercises can be done in short and fast repetitions.
Suspension Trainer Exercises
There are a whole host of exercises you can do with suspension trainers. Not only can you target lots of different muscle groups, but you’re unlikely to get bored. You just have to get creative and you’ll see how limitless the possibilities are. The following are just some of the exercise that are possible. Many trainer kits come with videos or a Suspension training exercise chart. You can also find lots of video tutorials on Youtube like the one below.
Develop your triceps, biceps and pecs with pull ups, push ups, cleans, rows and flys.
Strengthen legs with overhead and pistol squats, curls and lunges.
Get lean and defined abs, lower back muscles and obliques with bear crawls, pike ups and holds.