Over the past few years, suspension training—performing exercises with part of your body suspended in the air—has become increasingly popular in the strength and conditioning field. It’s a great option for metabolic conditioning, rehab and training when your team is on the road and lacks access to its normal equipment.
It also develops balance and proprioception and engages your core. Because there is an unstable component, you recruit many muscles in a stabilizing role.
Below are five challenging suspension training exercises that work your entire body. Together, they engage most of the muscles in the body, and they can go a long way toward keeping you in shape when you cannot access your normal facilities. Use them as a circuit. Perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds, then do the next exercise with as little rest as possible. After you’ve done all five exercises, repeat the circuit until you’ve been through it three times.
Suspension Trainer Push-Up: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
- Secure the trainer above you and adjust the handles so they are at stomach height.
- Grasp the handles and extend your arms until they are locked out. Your palms should be down.
- Step back until you are leaning into the handles. Make sure the handles are in line with your shoulders.
- Keeping your body straight from your shoulders to your heels, bend your arms and lower yourself to the handles. As you do this, the handles will move out to the sides.
- Once the handles are even with your chest, reverse directions.
- To make this more difficult, lower the handles closer to the floor and step farther back.
Suspension Trainer Row: Back/Shoulders/Biceps
- Secure the trainer above you, adjusting the handles so they are at stomach height.
- Grasp the handles with a neutral grip (palms facing in).
- Extend your arms until your elbows are locked out.
- Step forward (moving under the trainer) until the handles are even with your chest.
- Keeping your body straight from your shoulders to your heels, bend your arms and pull yourself toward the handles. As you do this, the handles should move towards the sides of your body.
- Reverse directions.
- To make this more difficult, step forward more.
Suspension Trainer Reverse Lunge: Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings
- Secure the trainer above you and adjust the handles so that they are at shoulder height.
- Stand tall and grip the handles with extended arms.
- Staying tall, take a large step back with your right foot. As you step back, flex your left hip and knee so that your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Your right leg should be bent at the knee, with the ball of your right foot in contact with the ground.
- Reverse directions and repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch legs.
Suspension Trainer Hip Bridge: Hamstrings, Lower Back, Glutes
- Secure the trainer above you and adjust the handles so they are at knee height.
- Lie on your back and place your feet in the handles.
- Place your hands at your sides and straighten your legs.
- Keeping your legs straight, use your hamstrings to lift your glutes off the ground as high as they can go with straight legs.
- Lower and repeat.
Suspension Trainer Pike: Core
- Secure the trainer above you and adjust the handles so that they are at knee height.
- Place your feet in the handles and assume the push-up position.
- Keeping your legs straight, lift your hips as high as they will go, forming an upside-down “V” with your body.
- Lower and repeat.