Suspension training delivers a whole body workout
October 20, 2015
Wikipedia defines suspension training as “an approach to strength training that uses a system of ropes and webbing called a 'suspension trainer' to allow the user to work against his own body weight.” Exercise enthusiasts and participants describe suspension training as an unbelievably challenging and fulfilling workout.
The most common and well recognized, but not sole, form of suspension training is the TRX system. Suspension bands or systems are unstable, lightweight pieces of equipment that can be used in a range of settings, including gyms, parks or even in an office at work.
Suspension bands are a great tool for both personal fitness trainers and group instructors who want to deliver a challenging workout that will engage participants on many levels. The nature of suspension training requires participants to maintain control of their body while performing exercises in unstable scenarios. Suspension trainingdelivers a whole body workout, targeting the core in particular.
The benefits of suspension training go beyond just toned muscles. Bodies and muscles are not one dimensional, meaning we move in multiple directions. Suspension training utilizes total body movements in all three planes of motion, making it a functional and highly effective way to train. By simply changing the angle of their body, participants are able to adjust the workload without having to stop the movement. This is particularly valuable for exercise professionals working with groups as it means each participant can work at an intensity that is safe and suited to their abilities, increasing the versatility of training.
The use of unstable devices is not new to training. We’ve seen their application for years in rehabilitation centers, in specialized sports programs and more recently in gym facilities. This is because it has been established for years that the use of unstable devices increases core activation. Due to the element of instability and the fact that participants must direct and maintain control of their body throughout each movement, suspension training is particularly beneficial for core activation and integration. This increase in core strength offers benefits for lower back stability as well, since the posterior or back chain muscles are directly involved with core strength.
While suspension exercises can easily be modified, it’s important to remember that the movements are not intuitive and exercisers must make sure that they use correct form and technique. Suspension training has very specific techniques and without learning correct techniques, exercises may be ineffective or could place a person at risk. Anyone interested in suspension training should seek specific training from a qualified exercise professional.
Finally, suspension training doesn’t have to be a stand-alone activity, rather it can be worked in as part of a broader program. It is a great compliment to other types of training as it provides extra stabilizer recruitment and core engagement, while also teaching participants how to move and control their body. Easily transportable, suspension training makes a great addition to any program, adding a new, interesting and varied element to training.
Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers. She is a USA TriathlonAdvanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach and has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification
Weight Management , Exercise and Physical Activity