When you’re at the gym, the amount of equipment may seem overwhelming. If you’re new to the weight room, there may be a curve to learning which machine is best for each muscle group. But with suspension training, you can work out your whole body with only one piece of equipment.
So what is suspension training? Suspension training is a method of bodyweight strength training. It can help increase endurance and flexibility. Suspension training equipment is minimal and portable due to its anchoring system.
ELEMENTS OF A SUSPENSION TRAINER
Understanding the anatomy of your suspension trainer is key to using it. Trainers consist of two adjustable straps with handles and foot cradles on each end.
- Adjustable straps: Made with strong, durable webbing, they feature adjustment tabs for altering the length.
- Handles: Found at the end of the straps, the handles are there for you to grip.
- Foot cradles: Underneath the handles are the foot cradles. This web loop allows you to place your feet on the trainer for exercises, like mountain climbers.
- Carabiner: A clip at the top of your straps. The carabiner allows you to connect your trainer to different anchor points. Be sure to do this in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
WHERE TO USE A SUSPENSION TRAINER
To use a suspension trainer, you need flat floor space and an anchor point seven to nine feet off the ground. The anchor needs to be strong enough to support your body weight. Before you set up your trainer, check the manufacturer’s instructions for all anchor types.
Many gyms have suspension trainers, but due to their portability they can be used in a variety of locations. There are three common anchor types:
- Suspension anchor: This rope-like anchor is what you’ll typically see at the gym. They can attach your trainer to anchor points, like a weight rack or park equipment.
To use, clip the main carabiner to the bottom loop of your suspension anchor. Then, wrap the anchor around your anchor point as many times as needed for added strength.
- Door anchor: Door mounts allow you to train from home or on the road. How you use a door anchor depends on which way the door opens. If it opens away from you, slide the anchor over the top and close the door. If it opens toward you, pull the anchor toward the hinges and lock it if you can.
- Wall mount: If you’re using a home suspension trainer, another possibility is a wall mount. Typically made from steel, these small, circular plates can attach to walls or ceilings. Similar to a suspension anchor, the main carabiner of your trainer will clip to the mount.
Regardless of anchor type, always check the anchor’s strength by tugging on the straps before your workout.
HOW TO USE A SUSPENSION TRAINER
One of the benefits of a suspension trainer is its versatility. You can customize suspension workouts by adjusting your body position, the strap lengths and the intensity level.
There are six common ways to position yourself to use a suspension trainer:
- Standing facing the anchor.
- Standing facing away from the anchor.
- Standing sideways to the anchor point.
- Lying face down.
- Lying face up.
- Lying on your side.
Most exercises will have you grip the handles. However, some exercises that involve lying on the ground may use the foot cradles.
Different exercises will require the straps to be at different lengths. There are four key strap positions.
- Short: In this strap position, the tabs are at the top of the straps. This is the best length to do exercises such as rows.
- Mid-calf: True to the name, the bottom of the foot cradle will hit near your mid-calf at this strap length. This is the recommended length for planks.
- Mid-length: Here the straps hit the colored stitching found halfway up the straps. The mid-length position is best for squats.
- Long: This is where the straps are fully extended. The tabs are at the very end of the straps. You can do pushups in which your hands are on the handles from this length.
CHANGING THE INTENSITY
Customizable levels of intensity allow people of all fitness levels to use suspension trainers. It also allows you to be able to increase difficulty over time.
Here are some ways to alter the intensity of your workout:
- Change your angle: Performing exercises at steeper angles can increase difficulty.
- Change your balance: The farther apart your legs are positioned, the easier the workout will be. To increase difficulty, move your feet closer together or try balancing on one leg.
- Step back: For a more difficult workout, move farther away from the anchor point. If you need to lessen the intensity, step forward.
Keep in mind, the more slack you feel in the straps, the less effective your workout will be.
Now that you know how to use a suspension trainer, you can learn about other forms of strength training. Check out these guides on how to choose a resistance band.