Build a Better Chest With Suspension Training Exercises, Part 1

May 24, 2012

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When building a stronger chest, don’t make pure strength your primary goal. As an athlete, you also have to think about function, so your body can meet the demands of your sport. Muscle that lacks flexibility or endurance won’t do you much good on the field.

Suspension training chest exercises are perfect for building both strength and function, because they add instability to your workout. Suspension exercises teach your muscles how to control your body in an unstable and unpredictable environment, similar to what you experience in sports. Although you won't be lifting massive amounts of weight with suspension exercises, you will increase your mobility, stability, balance, endurance—and, yes, your strength.

For a more balanced workout, add the following suspension exercises to your upper-body training once or twice a week. I recommend performing them for time instead of reps. Start with three sets of 30 seconds each and progress to sets of 60 seconds. After you’ve mastered 60-second sets, make the exercises more difficult by taking additional steps back to increase your forward lean. Once you can support most of your upper-body weight throughout these exercises, move on to the more advanced suspension chest exercises coming in Part 2.

Suspended Push-Ups

  • Hold handles shoulder-width apart with palms facing down
  • Stand up and extend arms straight in front
  • Take two to three steps back to lean slightly forward
  • Lower into Push-Up position until chest is even with handles; keep core tight and back flat
  • Drive out of Push-Up to return to starting position
  • Repeat for specified time

Check out FMX legend Brian Deegan's brutal TRX Atomic Push-Up routine.

Suspended Fly

  • Hold handles shoulder-width apart with palms facing together
  • Stand up and extend arms straight in front
  • Take two to three steps back to lean slightly forward
  • Spread arms to sides with elbows slightly bent to lower into fly
  • Flex chest and bring hands together to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified time

When performing suspension chest exercises:

  • Perform these exercises slowly
  • Learn the exercises before taking additional steps back to increase difficulty
  • You should be able to draw a straight line from your shoulder, through your hips to your ankles during both exercises. Think of it as a moving Plank

John Cissik
- John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with athletes...
John Cissik
- John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with athletes...
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