Suspension training: The ultimate full body workout?
Here at Strensa, we are always on the lookout for ways to spice up our training schedules. Sports science dictates that carrying on with the same routine month after month eventually sees your gains plateau, but for me, personally, it’s all about looking for new ways to add some fun to my fitness routine, to keep things fresh. That’s why, this week, I’m pretty excited that I just may have unintentionally stumbled upon the ultimate full body workout, suspension training.
Suspension training is nothing new, but it’s something I had never had a chance to try before and was always sceptical about. Traditionally, I’m into rough and ready when it comes to gym training. Bodybuilding gyms, where the emphasis is on hard work through shifting steel, and not spending time gazing adoringly at my own arms in the mirror, are where I feel most at home.
I train in Defence Lab, a self defence technique based on Spanish street fighting, at my local MMA gym and, as it turns out, they have some pretty funky training tools in there. This week, however, they whipped out a length of material, with two rings at either end. After a brief moment of bemusement, I was given an introduction into the weird and wonderful world of suspension training.
And now I’m hooked.
What is suspension training?
The concept of suspension training is fairly simple and is something utilised by sports teams and fighters all over the world. The training method, whose roots can be traced back to the U.S. Navy SEALs, works on the premise of placing the entire body in a position of instability during every exercise.
As no real world movement ever truly isolates one particular muscle group, a tool, such as the TRX Suspension Trainer, which is essentially a strong length of material with a handle at each end, is anchored to a stable surface and utilised as a means of leveraging gravity and your own body weight as a resistance tool.
While your body is placed in a state of manufactured instability, usually at a 45 degree angle, you can perform hundreds of different exercises, which strengthens the target muscle groups, while your whole body fights to stabilise itself.
Check out the video below for a better idea of what we’re talking about…
The benefits of suspension training
Suspension training is one of the most versatile and effective body weight training techniques that I’ve ever come across.
The inherent instability of suspension training forces the core to engage and work to stabilise the body, adding an extra dimension to your training. Suspension training, furthermore, still helps to effectively increase muscle tone and muscular endurance, while simply leaning further backwards or forwards allows you to adjust the resistance and difficulty level as you make strength gains.
Unlike some forms of body weight training, where there it can sometimes be frustrating that certain body parts cannot be worked as thoroughly as others, suspension training also allows you to target every muscle in the entire body. Working multiple muscle groups, enforced through the instability aspect of suspension training, is also a well documented means of promoting greater muscle growth, especially when it comes to making muscles more dense.
While the benefits of suspension training are big selling points in their own right, convenience is the big plus for me. I find myself travelling a lot, for both pleasure and work, and so end up either not having access to a gym or just not having the time to go out and find one. Tools like the TRX Suspension Trainer can be anchored to doors, gym equipment or even trees in the park. They allow you to train wherever and whenever you like. They truly are a great piece of kit.
There’s no turning back
As an avid weight lifter, I love training either in bodybuilding gyms or in my home gym, with traditional weights. It’s an experience that is too engrained in me at this point in my life to change, but trying out suspension training this week has certainly given me food for thought. It is, I believe, the ultimate full body workout technique. After only one session of suspension training, I’m hooked and have already put an order in for a suspension trainer of my own. It suits my lifestyle, which involves a lot of travel. And, after all, that’s what fitness training should be about; it’s about finding new ways to make exercise a part of your life, on your terms, while also being a lot of fun. I urge you to give suspension training a try. Ask at your local gym if they have any such equipment and I guarantee you that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never turn back.