Suspension training has become hugely popular over the last few years. More and more people are gravitating to the suspension area of the gym and joining in on suspension classes. Yet, many people are still unaware of the suspension training benefits. In this article, we’ll take a close look at why suspension training deserves to be a part of your training regimen.
Benefit #1: Core Focus
Your core is more than your abdominal muscles. It includes your pelvis, abs, back, and chest. The muscles of the core are responsible for the stability of your body, along with your balance and flexibility (source) .
The muscles that comprise your core are having to make adjustments to keep you grounded every second that you are working out. Even when you’re doing exercises completely unrelated to your core, such as shoulder presses or lunges, the muscles of your mid-region are constantly engaged.
There are many benefits to strengthening the core. Your core provides the base of your body’s power. Making it stronger will allow you to perform every exercise, as well as real-world activities, more efficiently. You’ll also take a lot of pressure away from your lower back muscles, preventing the spinal aches and pains, which so many people suffer from (source).
A strong, tight core will also allow you to develop the abdominal muscles that are the envy of so many people.
Benefit #2: Variety
The suspension trainer allows for a huge variety of exercise options. The unit only consists of two adjustable bands, yet provides an engaging workout for every muscle group in your body.
Facing away from the unit allows you to engage in pushing type movements, which are ideal for the chest and shoulders. When you face toward the unit, you’re ready for pulling exercises that predominantly work the back and biceps.
The simple pulley system of the suspension trainer does the same job as those expensive and bulky cable weight machines that you see in the gym. It also allows you to perform every conceivable bodyweight exercise you can think of.
The suspension trainer allows you to replace the weight stack with your own body weight. To add resistance, you simply adjust the angle of your body in relation to the adjustable bands. To make an exercise harder, you angle yourself lower to the floor. To make it easier, adjust to a more upright body position.
Benefit #3: Suitability to All Levels
Suspension training is accessible to all fitness levels. Beginners can start with a light resistance level by positioning their body in a more upright position. More experienced trainers can angle their body closer to the floor in order to make the exercise more challenging.
Advanced trainers can also make bodyweight exercises more challenging by performing them with their feet in the foot stirrups. This heightens the involvement of the core, turning an exercise such as the standard push-up into a multi-body part power movement.
The ease with which you are able to adjust the resistance (simply change your body position) means that you are dramatically reducing your downtime between sets. With conventional training, you have to go around the gym looking for extra weight to add to the bar. This can take up valuable minutes of training time. In the meantime, your muscles lose their pump and your training intensity is compromised (source).
Benefit #4: Improved Balance and Coordination
When you exercise with traditional resistance training equipment, you are usually moving through a pre-defined range of motion. This is designed to target one main muscle. In effect, that muscle is being worked in isolation.
This does not do a good job of improving your balance and coordination. With this type of movement, there is less structure than if you were exercising on a weight machine. That’s a good thing. It allows you to recruit all of the small stabilizer muscles that are too often neglected in a conventional workout (source).
As an example of how suspension training recruits more muscle fibers, think of the example of the chest press. When done on an exercises machine, the chest press targets the pectoral muscles alone. Because you are simply pushing along a preset groove, you don’t need to pull in any stabilizing or balancing muscles.
However, when you do the chest press on a suspension trainer, the core muscles are required to provide balance. In addition, the small muscles of your shoulders, upper back, and neck are recruited in order to provide the balance and control needed to move the handles in and out. This provides great training in balance and coordination.
When you exercise on a suspension trainer, you are relying on all of the muscles of your body to act together in a coordinated manner to produce the force required to move. The body is acting in the way that it was designed; to work together.
Because all of your muscles are involved in suspension training moves, balance and coordination are improved.
Benefit #5: Suspension Training Intensifies Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training, or calisthenics, is an extremely effective way to get in shape. For many people, however, a point arrives when using their body weight to provide resistance isn’t challenging enough for them. By using a suspension trainer to do their bodyweight exercises, they can take their training to a whole new level (source).
Let’s consider the example of the push-up.
The push up is an excellent overall conditioner, with an emphasis on developing the chest and shoulders. On the suspension trainer, you can make the push-up more challenging by performing the exercise either with your hands in the handles or by swinging around and placing your feet in them. Your body is now forced to stay in balance in order to keep your torso level and your arms perpendicular. In addition, your core musculature is working overtime to keep you balanced.
Benefit #6: Portability
A suspension training system consists of a couple of straps, buckles, and handles. Most units come with a carry bag and weigh less than 2 pounds. That makes it the most compact exercise system that you are ever likely to encounter.
Your suspension system will fit easily into the corner of your suitcase, ready to provide a great workout wherever you happen to be. It will attach to any standard door and will not leave a mark. This is ideal for your hotel stay. Even if the hotel has its own gym, take your suspension down and hook it over an upright for a superior workout.
You can even use your suspension trainer outdoors. All you need is a sturdy tree from which you can suspend the adjustable bands and you are good to go.
Benefit #7: Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
The suspension trainer not only provides an effective weight resistance workout to work your muscles, but it also gives you a great cardiovascular workout. Because you are able to move so quickly from one exercise to the next, you can keep your heart rate up during your entire workout.
The exertion required to maintain core stability and balance is also cardiovascular in nature. Another way to ramp up the cardio benefits of suspension training is to vary the pace at which you perform the exercise. To get your heart rate speed, up your repetition rate.
Benefit #8: Group Classes
Suspension training is ideally suited to group fitness training. Most gyms have already taken advantage of this and offer regular suspension training classes throughout the week. Joining a group suspension class will allow you to benefit from personal instruction from a professional trainer.
When you train as part of a group, you will benefit from the enhanced motivation coming from both the instructor and the other members of the group. Your competitive juices will also kick in to push you to do more. It has been shown scientifically that group training gets people to their fitness goals faster than training by themselves (source).
Benefit #9: Low Impact
Many traditional exercise options have a jarring impact on the body. When you let go of a machine weight, drop a barbell or do a plyometric box jump, the effect on your joints can be catastrophic.
The suspension trainer is gentle on your joints. Because you are suspended in mid air when you are doing the exercises, there is no clanging resistance that your body has to counter. The result is a workout that is less jarring on your joints.
Suspension training is an ideal option for people who are recovering from injury. It will allow you to perform flexibility, full range of motion, and dynamic moves to slowly strengthen the injured area without presenting any further risk to injury. This cannot be said for traditional weight training exercises.
Benefit #10: Unilateral Training
Many people have muscular imbalances where one side of the body is stronger than the other. This can lead to serious problems, including injury. Traditional weight training options do not do a very good of correcting these imbalances.
Suspension training makes it easy to work one side of the body by itself. It is also extremely safe to do so. This allows you to fully focus on balancing out the strength and development of your arms, legs, and shoulders so that your body can function optimally.
Benefit #11: Suspension Training Develops Functional Fitness
The human body was never designed for individual muscles to work in isolation. We very rarely perform a movement that simulates a bench press, for example.
In the real world, our muscles work together. When we bend down to pick up a suitcase, we are engaging the core, the latissimus dorsi, the deltoids, biceps, lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps, and triceps. When you train with a suspension trainer, you are able to engage multiple muscle groups in a single movement.
The multi recruitment of muscles that you get with suspension training exercises makes it an ideal functional fitness exercise. Moving away from isolationist moves towards functional fitness type exercises has been shown to improve fitness levels while providing a far greater real-world application to a person’s training program (source).
Benefit #12: Keeps You Motivated
One of the biggest challenges to staying consistent with an exercise program is boredom. It’s easy to get bored when you’re pounding the weights or running on the treadmill in the gym.
The suspension trainer, however, provides endless variety in exercise selection. It also challenges the body in a variety of ways, keeping you focused and engaged. There are so many ways to move with the trainer that you are even able to create your own, completely personalized exercises. It all adds up to a refreshing piece of exercise equipment that will keep you fresh and motivated, workout after workout.
Wrapping It Up
The 12 suspension training benefits we’ve just discussed make it clear why this form of exercise has become so popular so quickly. There is no other exercise option out there that is so core-centric, that offers such variety, and that comes in such a compact package.
If you haven’t already experienced the suspension training advantage, we encourage you to give it a try. A great way to try out suspension training is to take a class. That way you’ll get personal instruction from a certified trainer. You can then buy your own suspension trainer if you enjoyed it.
We’d love for you to share your suspension training experiences. Let us know if you’re a suspension convert in the comments below. And, if you found this article beneficial, share the love with someone else who might benefit from it!