Ryan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at yhealthandwellness.wordpress.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
The fitness industry is constantly changing and advancing, partly due to the scientific research studies that yield continuous new developments, but also due to industry leaders that set new trends based on science as well.
Some of the most recent ones have been core training, barefoot training, and functional training, but lately one of the hottest over the past few years has been suspension training.
Although the concept has been around for a long time (used mainly by gymnasts), currently it’s been adapted by fitness trainers and enthusiasts, and can be appropriate for almost anyone. Suspension training involves straps hanging from a single (or multiple) anchor point and uses your own bodyweight as the resistance. TRX is probably the most well known type of suspension training today, and is becoming much more visible in fitness centers all over the country in both individual and group settings.
After completing the TRX training course this past weekend, I now have a much greater appreciation for my own bodyweight and the many benefits to a piece of fitness equipment like the TRX. Here’s a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of suspension workouts.
“All core, all the time”: This phrase was brought up repeatedly throughout the workshop. Your center of gravity is displaced throughout each exercise so that your core musculature is constantly engaged and working hard to assist with stabilization and balance.
Adaptable: It’s simple to make any exercise harder or easier through small changes in your body position relative to the anchor point or by changing your base of stability. This makes it a great tool for both beginners and for the more advanced athlete at any age.
Trains movement patterns: Because the core is involved to such a great degree in most of the exercises, and you can train in multiple planes of motion, suspension training can be an extremely functional training tool for everyday life or for specific sports. We move everyday in these three different planes, and rarely use muscles in isolation, so suspension training really allows you to integrate many muscle groups at once and allows for hundreds of different exercises and variations. It incorporates strength, balance, stabilization, and flexibility all at once giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
Portability: Suspension trainers can easily be mounted to support beams, secure anchor points, or over trees, squat racks, and doors. Not only are they super light but they are extremely easy to travel with and can be used almost anywhere they can be securely and safely attached.
Learning curve: Suspension devices require some education before using properly. Although I’m sure many people can figure how to operate one just by watching an informational DVD, I found the one day training to be the most effective way to learn. The interactive instructions and coaching really allow you to ask questions while learning proper form and exercise advancements or modifications. Some people might also feel a little unnerved at first while they learn to lean away from the anchor point, but once you discover more about how to use one correctly and get used to the feeling, you’ll have many more options and possibilities when it comes to your fitness routine.