Strap In: Adventures in Suspension Training
While dumbbells, barbells, and weight plates are great for building strength, suspension training has emerged as a great supplement or even as an alternative to pumping iron. Suspension training puts a whole new spin on tried-and-true body weight exercises and requires you to focus on coordinating your core muscles to maintain balance. Leave the 45 lb. plates in the free weight area and try these exercises the next time you head into the health club!
Squatting can be difficult for a lot of people due to a lack of flexibility and core strength. Using suspension trainingÂ straps is a great way to get used to the movement and develop a feel for firing the necessary muscles for when you are ready to start squatting with free weights. With the straps adjusted to a medium length and feet slightly wider than shoulder width, grasp the handles out in front of you, and starting the movement at the hips, lower yourself into a squat in a controlled motion. Drive through your heels and bring yourself back to the starting position.
The pistol squat requires a strong core, and using suspension training straps can help you acclimate to the motion. Grasp the straps like you’re going to do a regular squat, but you will only use one leg to lower yourself while straightening the other leg out in front to help balance you. Again, drive through your heel and bring yourself back to the starting position, then repeat with the other leg.
The two-handed row is a great total back workout that will also incorporate your other core muscles to stabilize you in a planking position. With straps adjusted to medium length and feet together, grasp the handles and slowly lower your upper body away from the anchor while keeping your body in a plank position (i.e., no bending at the knees, hips, or spine). Once your arms are straightened, use your upper back muscles to pull yourself up while using your core muscles to maintain the plank.
One-handed Power Pull
The one-handed power pull takes your back training up a few notches. With straps adjusted to medium length and feet shoulder-width apart, grasp the strap with one hand close to the side of the chest; your elbow should be bent. Slowly start extending this elbow while reaching back toward the floor with the other hand, but don’t let your hips rotate. Pull yourself back up with the strap and reach forward with your free hand toward the anchor point.
While many people think of a push-up as a chest-building exercise, it requires great core strength and control; a chest press using suspension training straps accentuates this part of the exercise. Adjust the straps to full length; the exercise becomes more difficult the closer you become to parallel with the floor. Straighten your arms out in front of your chest and lean forward while maintaining a plank position until the straps support your body weight. Then, slowly lower your chest by bending at the elbows and shoulders; push yourself back to the starting position by flexing your chest muscles, shoulder muscles, and triceps.
Push-up Into Pike
This exercise will blast your abdominals while keeping the chest under tension the entire time! Slip your feet into the cradles and get into a plank position, i.e., starting position for a push-up but with your feet in the strap cradles. Lower your chest as though you were completing a push-up. Then, as you push yourself back into the starting position, drive yourself into a pike position by hinging at the hips, driving your butt into the air, and bringing your feet toward your hands. Finish the exercise by returning to the plank position.