Suspension trainers work many muscles

I like exercises that work many body parts at once. They teach muscle activation patterning that is valuable to proper technique and safety when exercising.

Most of these type of exercises are not performed on sit-down machines. They take place in the functional training portion of the gym. They involve barbells, plyo boxes, kettle bells and suspension trainers.

Suspension trainers are becoming more popular in gyms, and for good reason. Have you ever noticed what gymnastic ring athletes look like? They are strong and shredded with muscle.

The most popular types of suspension trainers are the black and yellow TRX suspension trainers and the traditional Olympic rings.

Olympic rings will eventually require the use of the false grip to move through the various gymnastic progressions.

The TRX trainer has handles that are easier to grip as well as foot straps to diversify training.

Both of today’s exercises can be done on either system without special grip techniques.

Aside from building superstable strength, exercises on suspension trainers can be scaled to fit users of all fitness levels.

I have used them to train the superfit and the new gym member alike. The trick is in how you scale the movements.

Today’s exercises are regressions of functional movements. Squats and lunges are basic exercises that provide a high return of physical benefits. For whatever reason, some people find it difficult to perform these exercises.

If I see athletes struggling with basic movements, I regress them into simpler movements or even go as far as to break down one movement into two or three simpler ones.

Suspension trainers make scaling movements like squats and lunges simple. By holding the rings or handles, athletes can spot themselves through the full range of the movement. This modification is useful for those looking to strengthen knees, ankles and hips. Supporting the body with the arms will take some body weight off the lower half. This allows you to improve things such as your range of motion, stability and stamina for having your muscles under tension.

If you are able to perform a few repetitions but are wary about adding these exercises in high volume, then add the assisted versions featured today to your workout.

You can slowly condition your body to do multiple repetitions with good form.

When you regress exercises, be sure to master the form. Use the easy version of any exercise to really drill in how the movement is supposed to feel. Make the correct form your body’s default form. Depending on your particular movement tendencies, this may take a short while to a few months to reteach proper movement.

I like to refer to this as bulldozing neurological pathways. More often than not, the body just “wings it” when deciding which movement is needed in daily life. If you have a few go-to movement patterns learned, you can safely tackle what the day brings.

Regressing movements can help teach the brain how to move efficiently.

Suspension trainers can be tricky to set up and manipulate at first. They may seem intimidating if you are new to them. Ask a trainer at your gym about setup and some of the many exercises you can do with suspension trainers.

Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at If you are a Las Vegas trainer and want to share your love of fitness as a guest coach, please contact him. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

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