Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Suspension Training Systems

Suspension training systems seem to be all the rage at the moment but it's far from a new idea - gymnasts have been using suspended rings for a very long time both as a discipline in competition and for training.

Suspension training can transform a simple exercise into a whole-body workout and this is one of the advantages over many traditional strength-training exercises. Virtually every exercise performed will utilize the muscles of the core whilst also challenging balance and coordination making suspension training a great all-round training method. Add to that the inherent portability of suspension training systems and it becomes apparent that this type of training could be a very valuable addition to your equipment arsenal.

There are a number of manufacturers making suspension training systems at the moment and when deciding on which one to buy it's worth considering the following points...

  • Ease of adjustment - different exercises require different ground clearance and if you want to make these changes quickly e.g. because you are performing super sets, then these adjustments need to be made easily. The USA seen in the video uses a ladder-type set up so no adjustments are necessary but this makes the product very bulky and not very portable.

  • Anchor points/fixing method - all suspension training systems need to be fixed to something overhead. Some use a single anchor point (as in the TRX) whilst others use two separate anchor points (such as the USA). Both methods work BUT which one will be more convenient for you? I believe a single anchor point is best but as you'll see in the video, my USA uses two. This is fine for my home set up but has not always been ideal in other settings.

  • Portability - I have two different sets of suspension training systems - a USA (shown in the video) and Blaststraps. Neither are very portable! The Blaststraps are just too heavy as they are made mostly of very strong metal and the USA is just too bulky to carry in my luggage. I'll be buying a TRX in the future as I believe at the moment it's the best option for me. If you aren't going to be transporting your suspension apparatus around too often then this point isn't too important but if you ever intend to take your suspension training kit "on the road" then go for a lighter, more packable option.

  • Durability - these things need to be rugged and strong as they will literally be suspending your body weight and if they fail you may end up doing a one rep max face plant into the deck! My USA isn't built to last...the straps are frayed, the carabiner clips have sharp edges and the handles are too thin whereas my Blaststraps will probably last forever as they are designed for 300lb power lifters but, unfortunately, don't have foot straps so is a less versatile product. The TRX (especially the Military version) looks very hard wearing.

  • Cost - from $50 to $250+ suspension training systems vary a great deal in price. My Blaststraps are currently running at around $56.95 compared to $169.95 for the cheapest TRX bundle BUT the TRX is more versatile. Of course, you could always make one out of towing straps and some handles from a cable crossover machine...!



Jungle Gym



I really enjoy my suspension training workouts and find them effective and fun. They really do provide a "core all the time" workout and it's possible to work every muscle very effectively. They do take a bit of mastering - finding the correct height and foot settings may take a couple of workouts - but once you are familiar with the exercises, they provide very challenging and efficient training.

You'll be hard pushed to find a better solution for home training or a better way of integrating the core while performing your strength training and it seems that suspension training is not just a "flash in the pan" fad, unlike the Reebok Slide(!).


  1. Very interesting article, Pat, and I loved the video workout.

    Another great suspension system, which is very lightweight and portable, is Elite Rings
    The rings cost around $70, but you can get them shipped free to the UK.

  2. Nice stuff Pat.

    I use the TRX system and find it great, but not as versatile as "Gravity Training System".

    Loving the articles, keep it up.

    Mark Hooper

  3. I really like suspension training too - hammers my abs every time. Good video - looked like a good workout.

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  5. The suspension trainer boom began about a decade ago, and what was once a piece of novel equipment is now hanging in gyms everywhere. You can try also the Best suspension trainer workout for abs strength