Equipment review: Suspension trainers

As the weather is getting better, I’m taking my training to the outside more frequently. Over the last weeks, I’ve been doing quite a lot of suspension training.

As a matter of fact, I even built my own suspension trainer. After some prototypes I came up with a solution that is equivalent to a TRX but cost me only about €40,-. That’s a pretty good price when compared to the TRX (check prices), the Variosling (check prices) and the like. Coming from a technical education, I decided it’s always good to have a benchmark, so I bought a pair of PerformTex Training Straps to have a „professional“ solution to evaluate my DIY(do-it-yourself)-Suspension trainer against. Only when I opened the package I realized that the PerformTex straps are – just as the name implies – individual straps rather than a single line running through a bail. The whole thing looks something like this:

My DIY-Suspension trainer, on the other hand, consists of just one strap running through a bail, as mentioned above.

This difference obviously offers different possibilites, especially in terms of anti-rotational exercise. Over the course of our next sessions, I’ll capture some clips and post them here.

In the meanwhile, I’ll just show you some exercise that can be done with both pieces and shortly discuss the benefits and drawback on each of them.

Now arguably the best and most important suspension exercise is the reverse row. This really does the trick when it comes to posture correction and core stability. Also, as resistance here is a function that goes with the cosine of the angle, it can be adapted for everyone’s fitness level by simply shortening/lengthening the straps.

Quite frankly, there’s no real difference between the PerformTex straps and my solution when doing reverse rows. The added instability in my tool could play a role if the rows were done with elevated feet (e.g. on a bosu-ball) but in this scenario, it was just about the same feeling.

Following a functional training school of thought, rowing (a horizontal pulling movement) should be complemented with some horizontal pushing: behold, the pushup. Here, there’s actually a difference between the PerformTex straps and my own solution. The adjustment clamps on the PerformTex straps are a bit too low, i.e. too near to the handles, so they tend to rub against the skin. Not a tragedy, really, but a bit inconvenient.

Another classic exercise that can be done with a suspension trainer is the suspended lunge. Again, there’s no real difference between the PerformTex straps and my DIY-suspension trainer.

Chris, Elias (afriend of mine and new teacher at my Dojo) and I just started our weekly-outdoor conditioning yesterday. Next saturday, I’ll take some clips and show you what can be done with only a handful of low-tech, low-budget, high-approach tools.

So long,

take care

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