A suspension trainer is something you should eventually add to your home gym and especially a piece of weight lifting equipment you need if you travel very often.
Nothing replaces weight lifting equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, and weight plates simply because you can easily and safely add weight in specific increments such as 5 pounds, 10 pounds, etc.
A suspension trainer, though, will supplement your weight training and lead you to a much better overall physique. You'll gain strength in new ways that barbells and dumbbells can't provide.
Exercises That Move Your Body Through Space
If you've followed WLC for some time, you might know that I HIGHLY recommend weight lifting exercises that force you to move your body with the weight rather than simply moving the weight without your body moving.
For example, squats and deadlifts force you to move your body and lift the weight at the same time.
Leg extensions and leg curls force you to ONLY move the weight.
This is just one reason squats and deadlifts are highly superior exercises.
Another example that might blow your mind is the bench press versus the push up. Which one do you think provides better results? The bench press is so popular and everyone is going to ask you how much you can bench and probably have.
But the push up is a superior exercise because your body is moving through space.
The only advantage the bench press has over the push up is that you can add large amounts of weight safely to the bench press while it's very difficult to do so with the push up. For that reason alone, the bench press is preferred. But, if you can find a way to safely add resistance to the push up then I highly recommend it as your exercise choice.
Just as the squat, deadlift, pull up, dip, handstand push ups, lunge, step ups, and push ups force you to move your body through space the suspension trainer will do the same thing.
The suspension trainer forces you to move your body through space to complete each rep of each exercise. This fact alone makes the suspension trainer worthy of a spot in your gym and a piece of weight training equipment that I highly recommend.
My First Experience With a Suspension Trainer
When I first received my suspension trainer and hung it up in my power rack, I decided I would try a body weight dip on my new trainer.
Since I have easily added 100 pounds of extra body weight to dips in the past with my hip belt, I thought the body weight dips on the suspension trainer would be very easy. I knew it would take some additional stabilizer muscles to complete each rep, but I didn't think I would be shaking like Scooby Doo when he sees a ghost.
The suspension trainer difficulty surprised me, but the challenge is something I really enjoy.
After several workouts, I was doing many body weight dips without shaking so badly. I could see my physique and its functionality increasing.
I'm not into just lifting weights to improve my appearance BUT I find it even more important to work on improving the functionality of my body. I don't want a muscular body that doesn't have any functionality.
I want to be strong, fit, and functional throughout my life so adding the suspension trainer is the perfect fit for those goals.
Another exercise I tried was a suspended push up. Again, the first few attempts didn't go so well as I was shaking all over and looked as if I had never lifted a weight or completed a push up in my life. Bench pressing hundreds of pounds didn't help one bit with the suspension trainer push up.
And that's when I knew I had a winning piece of weight lifting equipment. The suspension trainer had earned itself a permanent spot in my home gym.
Increase Functionality and Decrease Your Chance of Injury
I recently wrote a post about the 1-arm overhead press and not using extremely strict form during many weight lifting exercises. I don't believe we were created to lift a weight and look like a robot while doing so.
Our body was made with muscle groups that move and work together. I find these people teaching very, very strict form to be so amusing. And I find all the comments on You Tube telling the professional strength athletes that they don't know how to lift because they are “swinging” the weight around as shown in the video below:
This guy knows how to lift weights and doesn't need people telling him how to lift weights. He is using his entire body as he should be to lift the weight.
I see people in the comments section (that is now disabled) telling him he needs to be very strict so he can isolate his back!!! Wow is all I can say. He is overloading his back way more than he could possibly do while using the strict form that all the so-called comment “experts” want him to do.
The guy is building functional strength by using his entire body to complete the reps.
If I go out on a farm and actually have to do some physical work, do you think the exercises where I use my entire body to make the lifts are going to help me better than a super strict dumbbell row like shown below?
Again, I find the guy in the video above to be hilarious. He says if you use your legs then the weight is too heavy for you. No. If you are able to row the weight up, then the weight isn't too heavy for you even if you use your legs.
I get sick of the bad advice. Again, you simply have to be smart about the amount of weight you are lifting and work on increasing that amount as often as possible but only when you can complete them without sacrificing form.
When I say sacrificing form, I mean really rounding your back during a deadlift or allowing your knees to buckle inwards during squats. I don't mean using your legs for some dumbbell rows. Your legs are there to help you lift heavier weight so use them how they were meant to be used.
And when you do…
That's when you start building some functional strength that you can use in real life situations.
If someone attacks you, are you going to try to use strict form so you don't injure something? Lets get real here. Our bodies are amazing and were made to work together as a unit. Lets not try to isolate our back muscle or our left pectoral or our right tibialis anterior. Lets work the body together.
The suspension trainer is going to help you start building more functional strength and that's why I highly recommend the suspension trainer. If you don't already have one, you need to get one today and give suspension training a shot.
Adding Weight to Suspension Trainer Exercises
Make sure you get a suspension trainer that is strong enough for your body weight PLUS extra weight.
As you get stronger with your new trainer, you will need to add more resistance to many of the exercises.
You can do so with a hip belt and extra weight plates. You need to be careful, though, and ensure the weight capacity with your trainer is well above the amount of weight you are using.
As you may know from reading about building muscle here at WLC, the secret to results is consistently adding resistance to the best weight lifting exercises.
You don't want to get a suspension trainer and simply use your body weight over and over again for each workout. You'll get some initial results BUT the results will stop rather quickly.
One of the guidelines I use for building muscle is to NEVER use the same amount of weight or resistance for more than 3 consecutive weight lifting workouts. If you're doing so, that's why you aren't getting any results.
Instead, you should be adding resistance to every weight lifting exercise you are doing even when you're using the suspension trainer. Good design of a weight lifting program with planned out weight increases allows you to make this type of progress.
So please let me know how your new suspension trainer works for you and tell me about your results. I personally love my suspension trainer as it has taken me to a completely new level.
Quick Video of a Suspension Trainer in Action
The suspension trainer is very versatile and can be used for hundreds of different exercises from upper body to lower body exercises. Here's an example of inverted rows using the suspension trainer even though the video is titled Suspended Pull Ups.
Again, good luck with your new suspension trainer and let me know how it goes for you. If you already have one, please leave some comments on how the suspension trainer has worked for you.