Ever seen those straps hanging from the ceiling in the gym with handles and wondered what they are for and how they could possibly give you a good workout. Whilst they may look innocuous, they are perhaps one of the best and most challenging pieces of gym equipment.
Standard weight machines at the gym can help you lift massive amounts – in isolation. Weight machines are fixed stable equipment that typically move unilaterally (in one direction). Up. Down. Back. Forwards. This means that when one is using the machine that it works the muscle (s) it has been specifically designed for (e.g. quads or triceps), but more often than not, they do not properly engage the stabiliser and support muscles around the joints that are essential to strong and stable movement. By incorporating suspension training into your gym routine, you can start to strengthen those critical stabilisers.
One of my favourite suspension trainer exercises is the hamstring curl. To do this exercise on a machine, one must lay face down on a bench, with one’s ankles tucked underneath a padded weight lever and bend your knees contracting your hamstrings. The benefits on a machine are very much limited to the hamstrings.
Undertaking the same exercise using a suspension trainer is performed lying on one’s back, with your heel’s placed comfortably in the handle of the trainer. Placing your hands on either side of your body (at approximately 45 degrees) and push your pelvis up so that your body is stiff like a plank and your glutes are tightened and engaged. Keep your glutes engaged, tighten your core and drag your heels toward your body, bending your knees.
This simple movement engages multiple different muscle groups providing an even greater workout for your body in just one move. Imagine how much more awesome your workout becomes when you add in 5-6 suspension trainer exercises.
Many of you will have undertaken the Moby ‘Flower’ challenge with Nick, Jesse or Ryan. You know the one – ‘Bring Sally Up….and down. Performing that challenge with pushup is a real killer #amiright? But if you reaaaallllly want to push it to the next level, do it on a suspension trainer. May I suggest either the TABLE-TOP ROW (I think my Friday morning Fighting Fit class just cringed) or the ATOMIC PUSHUP (feet in the suspension trainer combining a pushup with a pike lift #killer).
The beauty of this piece of equipment is that a) you can use it in the comfort of your own home as well as at the gym and b) you can take in away with you on holiday. These things pack up and take up the same amount of space as a pair of shoes.
If you are in the gym and you want to know what hype is – come and see me and I will be only too happy to help you out. In fact – if you are in the gym this week, I have a challenge for you. If you get through it – let me know and eternal glory shall be yours.
SUSPENSION CHALLENGE #1 (see video for demo)
Three continuous sets of the following without a break:
- 10 Reverse Crunches
- 20 Mountain Climbs
- 20 Side Crunches
- 10 Pike lifts
- 10 Pendulums