Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo. Today we are looking at suspension training and determining if it is right for you are your goals.  If you have any questions about the products we use here or how better to incorporate suspension training into your workout, give us a call: 806-322-3188.

Suspension training has gained in popularity lately.  It uses devices like this one from TRX (other popular brands are available such as  Monkii Bars). The main draw to this equipment is a larger range of motion. If you anchor it into the ceiling like we have here, that affords you a full 360 degrees of movement.  If you have good balance and you’ve been training with resistance or your body weight for a while, suspension training could be right for you. If you’re new to exercise and have not yet developed enough stability, balance, or stamina, or maybe you are still building your strength, through the shoulder girdle for example, maybe it isn’t the right fit for you…yet.

There are many approaches to performing these same exercises without the use of the suspension equipment. If you use a suspension trainer before you body is ready, there is a much high risk of injury. You always want to make sure you are doing the right exercise for the right part of your body while making sure you are supporting your body.

People who use suspension trainers will often find themselves sinking into their joints. Whether it is dropping into the shoulders forwards or backs, dropping the hips, arching the back, etc.  As a personal trainer in Amarillo for almost two decades, I cannot tell you how many injuries I have seen from people not following proper form when using various pieces of equipment.  You want to make sure you performing the exercise correctly as well as safely. Please be safe when using any type of equipment or machinery. 

People who own their own suspension trainers at home typically anchor them into their door usually.  Most of the brand name suspension equipment companies provide a door attachment with the strap where you can anchor the equipment over the top of  the door jam or above the top hinge.  If you do that you reduce degree of movement from 360 to 180 because you obviously can only go from one wall to the other swinging before you hit another surface.

If you are securing your suspension trainer to a door, you want to make sure it is attached correctly. Make sure the door is fully shut, locked is even better. Place a side on the other side of the door for others in the house to know not to enter the room while you are working out with this tool. Tug on the trainer to test that it is fully fastened before you put your full body weight on it.

Other than a larger range of motion where your body must use more balance and more core to perform the exercises, another perk of using a suspension trainer is you can modify or intensify as needed. The trainer will take a percentage of your body weight (depending on the angle you perform the exercise at) and only allow you to train with that percentage. Let’s take a push-up for example.  If someone jumps on the suspension trainer and immediately go into a pushup position with their body parallel to the ground, they have just negated the trainer and are working with their entire body weight.  If you angle the pushup upward, instead, your body is working a little less because you are only working against a percentage of your body weight while the suspension rainer takes the rest. This allows our bodies to have a place to build from.  If you are new to working out or trying to get back into the swing of things, you have a way to build up.  

Your foot position can also create a range of challenge for the user. I’ll demonstrate this in a Row exercise. If I walk back and spread my feet out to hip-width apart, that makes my base wider and thus easier to maintain balance.  Alternatively, if I plant my feet together where they are touching, my base is much more narrow causing me to swing if I do keep my core engaged.  To make it even more difficult, I can take my footing to one leg. Now I am trying to resist swinging, my core is working extra hard, and I am trying to keep my balance. This is much more challenging.

Continuing with the Row example, if I were to take it down and come back up with my arms while leaning backward that’s not too bad with both of my feet on the floor. Now, in an Alligator movement (one arm straight out and the other straight up then alternating their positions) my feet might feel this was too difficult while working my upper body muscles. So, I will stagger my stance to make the challenge a little easier. I can push off my back leg while depending mostly on my front leg and my arms.  

The key to using a suspension trainer is making sure that it is right for you and that you are ready to do that.  Beginners are not to shy away from using it, but they need to know how to use appropriately (how to modify exercises, how to lessen the body weight percentage they are using, etc.) to remain safe.

So a few great exercises to use on the suspension trainer include the Row – basic, but good, and Alligator movements I just showed you.  I also really like the T and Y pulls. Lean backwards with straight arms and start with a staggered stance – especially if you’re new to this – to give yourself enough modification to keep that body weight in check. Open the arms out to the side while lifting your body forward into a “T” position. Lean back again with your arms coming together. Turn the palms down and then lift your arms and body into a “Y” position.  I like this because I am very keen on improving posture.  We, so often, are stuck in a hunchback position, but by opening out into the T and Y we are opening our posture and setting us up for success in the future while strengthening all of the back muscles.  If you want to better your posture, the T and Y pulls is a great exercise to throw in, but make sure you are secure in doing it and you don’t feel any weakness or rolling through the spine on the lift. If you feel any of those symptoms, perhaps you need to put suspension training on the back burner for now and focus on some lightweight training until your body if fully ready for this type of workout.

If you’d like more information, tips, tricks, or help, or you’re ready to get an awesome workout  that you know is research based, efficient,  and effective without all the work on your end, give us a call: 806-322-3188 or e-mail us at info@customfitness.biz. Our studio is located at 34th and Coulter, feel free to schedule or drop by for a free consultation with us where we can talk with you about what we do, find out about our services, and see if we are the right fit for each other. Right now, we are getting ready for back to school. Things are starting to get a little crazy. We have many teachers signing up right now to destress.  If you’d like to take a time out from the hustle and bustle of the end of summer, we’re here for you. At Custom Fitness, we are YOUR personal trainer in Amarillo. Talk to you soon.