Why Suspension Training Is All You Need (And All You Want)

With countries across the globe grappling with a pandemic, enclosed spaces are not the safest places to be. And many times, working out at home saves time. Perhaps you’ve seen suspension systems (TRX straps are a popular brand) in gyms or recommended by fitness professionals. I’ve always been a big proponent of body weight exercises that you can do anywhere, and I would like to share my new discovery — suspension systems that utilize your own body weight.

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Suspension systems consist of durable six-foot straps with grip handles, and a variety of accessories, such as a door anchor. This allows you to use a door to anchor the straps, and you can exercise anywhere, like in the safety of your own home. The concept with straps is that you use your own body weight to perform various exercises (I’ll talk about those in a minute). Your body “suspends” from the straps, so you are lifting your own weight to work those biceps. It’s so simple it’s genius.

Created By A Navy Seal

A Navy Seal was looking for a way to work out when no weights were available, so he created the TRX system using a martial art belt and parachute webbing tied to a door. Genius! He later brought it to market in 2001 and made a lot of money.

Anyway, you don’t have to be a Navy Seal to learn to use them. Before I explain some of my favorite moves, I’d like to discuss form. It’s extremely important that your body is aligned and relaxed while suspended, or injuries could result. Once your body suspends, there is a lot of pressure in the straps, and tension in your body can make you sore. My first tip is to remain relaxed and set up your form before starting the repetitions. Breath! Exhale on the work phase, and inhale on the eccentric (lengthening) phase.

Upper Body Suspensions

I’m going to keep this simple and give you two upper body exercises that target all the muscle groups of the upper body. For the first, make sure the anchor is secure in the door. Grab the handles and lean back, extending your arms until you are almost horizontal. You can vary the degree and begin at a lesser angle. Relax your body and suspend with your head neutral. Now pull your body toward the ceiling. Repeat 8–10 times slowly. This is basically a pull up, except you are suspended, and you will be surprised how buff you’ll become.

Next, turn away from the door and grab the straps. Now you will move your feet back and lean forward toward the floor. Try to be horizontal. Relax. Slowly extend your arms and push yourself up. You are essentially doing a push up. Repeat 8–10 times slowly. This position uses the chest and biceps muscles and are the opposite of the muscles we worked in the last exercise. This way it utilizes the way the body works. And it makes you look good, too.

Suspension straps are a simple yet powerful way to get a full body workout — anywhere. There are dozens of other exercises for the legs and abs. The beauty of this system is you need no weights (or even a trainer). Your body will thank you.

Ali Ghani is an investor and entrepreneur from Calgary, Canada