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What Is Suspension Training? | Full-Body Workout

What Is Suspension Training?

Suspension training, or suspension equipment workouts, are all about using your body weight, using suspended pulleys or bands set to an anchored, elevated point.

In a nutshell, it provides an intense resistance workout that tones and strengthens your body, all with a simple bit of kit. Sounds too simple to be true, right? Using massive elastic bands to get in shape can’t be as effective as the many other more hardcore looking contraptions in a gym.

Clearly, you’ll be surprised. In fact, suspension workout equipment can be found in the majority of gyms around the world, whether or not you have taken the time to realise its many benefits.

History Of Suspension Training

While this may sound like a modern-day exercise, drawing on the element of yoga and the push-pull of resistance training, it has in fact been around since the 1800s. It was developed by former Navy Seal, Randy Hetrick, who developed Total Resistance eXercise, or TRX equipment and its many associated exercises in the nineties.

There are other, rivalling conditioning systems rooted in the same premise, including Kurt Dasbach, a former professional soccer player’s discovery of an ancient Andean conditioning system that utilized ropes.

How Does Suspension Training Work?

Suspension training is based on callisthenic movements, which is an exercise without equipment. It fundamentally relies on equipment, however, which makes it more in keeping with bodyweight training, though with an emphasis on functional muscle movement and development. Add to that the intense cardio workout to be had.

The major difference between suspension training and weightlifting, though the muscle development element may achieve similar results, is the limited possibilities in weightlifting. Especially the likes of barbell lifts and fixed motion machines will only allow muscle development of the muscles they target.

Proper technique is essential for these exercises to avoid injury, so there are certain smaller muscles that will simply not be reached. This is where fans of functional workouts will be pleased, as suspension training offers just that: both a functional workout and one that will match other forms of resistance training.

The way it works is the ropes or bands are attached to a fixed point above them so that gravity and bodyweight form the resistance involved.

Benefits Of Suspension Training

The main benefits that you will immediately realise are the strengthening, toning and development of your core. The “core” refers to a set of four muscle groups that form a cylinder surrounding the organs of our lower torso. The abs muscles, including the rectus abdominus and the obliques, form the front and sides of this cylinder. The multifidus muscles strengthen your lower back and provide it with stability and support.

Because suspension workouts require your full body’s cooperation, with particular attention to your body’s positioning, every lift, push and pull on the cables will concentrate tension on your core, along with every other muscle group involved in the particular exercise you are executing.

With repetition, as with all resistance training, your muscles will develop, tone up and become stronger. As the main focus is the core strength, this means it makes the perfect abs workout if you’re looking for a six-pack and to tighten up that muffin top look. It also means endurance.

For anyone that sits a lot throughout the day, including office workers, it is the perfect workout to correct posture and balance.

Suspension Training Exercises


Hold your arms at a 90-degree angle with your elbows by your sides and the handles at chest level; there should be light tension on the straps. Push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Reverse the move to return to the starting position.

Do the same with one leg at a time to make this more of a challenge.

Chest Press

The go-to exercise for many weightlifters, the chest press is just as popular with cables involved. Grab the handles and face away from the anchor point with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms straight in front of your chest and walk back a few steps so your body leans forward. Keeping your body straight, bend your arms to lower your chest until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Pause; push back up.

As with all forms of exercise, as you get better at it you should look to challenge yourself to keep on developing. To make your presses more challenging, move your feet further back or do it with one leg at a time.


Grab the handles and face the anchor point with your feet shoulder-width apart. Straighten your arms out in front of you and walk your feet forward a few steps so your body leans back. Keeping your body straight, pull your chest to the handles. Pause, and return to the starting position.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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