- Suspension training uses an elastic band with handles on each end that can be mounted to a doorframe or a ceiling.
- This type of training uses your own bodyweight to build muscle, lower blood pressure, and trim fat through resistance exercises.
- See below for a step-by-step guide on how to use a suspension trainer in your own home.
- This article was medically reviewed by Joey Thurman, CSCS, CPT, FNS, a Chicago-based fitness expert and MYX Fitness coach.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Suspension weight training is a great alternative to traditional weight lifting for people who want to build strength at home and without too much equipment. It uses a portable, elastic band and your own bodyweight to build and tone muscle.
You can find exercises for all parts of the body and you may even lower your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious conditions if you keep it up regularly. Here’s what you need to know about suspension training and some helpful exercises you can do from home.
A Workout Guide
Suspension weight training uses a single nylon band, called a suspension trainer. This band is folded in half and hung from a mount on a ceiling or door. To install the suspension system, the mounted anchor needs to be able to hold your bodyweight.
The mount can be a bar, a hook, or a special mount that comes with some suspension trainers. You then clip the suspension band onto the mount and you are ready to start your work out. On each end of the band, there are loops where you can place your arms or legs for strength training.
Here are some important exercises to help build and maintain strength. For each exercise, start with one or two sets of 10-12 reps, Janot says.
Triceps: This exercise targets your triceps and abdominal muscles
- Hold the loop in each hand, with palms facing each other.
- Pull the handles down until your arms are straight by your sides, without moving your upper arms.
Chest press: This works out your chest muscles, triceps, and shoulder muscles.
- Face away from the door/anchor point with your toes on the ground and your arms out straight, holding onto the loops.
- Bend your elbows and hold the two handles near so that they are next to your chest.
- Push against the band’s resistance and straighten your arms out in front of you.
Stomach curl: This exercise uses your abdominal muscles
- Get into a kneed down position on the ground, facing the mount.
- Grab a handle in each hand.
- Slowly curl inward, contracting your abdominal muscles.
For each exercise, you can change the level of difficulty by changing the angle of your body from the mounting anchor point. When you are lowered closer to the ground, away from the mount, the difficulty is increased, while angling further from the floor puts less weight on your muscles
The benefits of suspension weight training
Suspension weight training is a form of resistance training and shares some similarities to resistance band training. Although there are important differences. While suspension weight training relies on gravity and your bodyweight to challenge muscles, resistance bands use their elastic stretch as a way to engage muscles.
A small 2016 study funded by the American Council on Exercise found that using a suspension training system helped people reduce body fat by 1.5 percent and waist size by half an inch as well as lower blood pressure, which are all important risk factors for serious conditions, like heart disease, linked to obesity.
Another small study of 20 young women found that those using the suspension system significantly improved the core muscle strength including abdominal muscles and obliques, which are important for maintaining balance and preventing injury.
Middle-aged and older adults can also improve their balance and flexibility through suspension training, says Jeffrey M. Janot, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. “It is a workout that leads to a total body benefit,” as it builds strength and endurance in the upper body, lower body, and core.
Like most exercises, the results don’t come right away. In order to see the positive effects of suspension training, you will need to keep it up for 6 to 8 weeks, says Janot. Some experts say that suspension weight training may work well for athletes who have trained their abdominal and back muscles, but for people who haven’t trained their core muscles, there may be a risk of injury.