The best suspension trainer is a perfect bit of home gym equipment. Some might associate suspension trainers with TRX, a brand famous for its high-quality suspension training system, among other things, but TRX is not the only purveyor of such things. If you're wanting to put your body through a thorough workout from the comfort of the home or, if you're a little more extrovert, the local park or nearby beauty spot, look no further.
Press-ups, bodyweight lunges and ab crunches will only get you so far in that quest for a rock hard body. That's where something like a suspension trainer can come in handy. They're far more transportable than weights but can offer a comparable amount of additional resistance.
This package of clever straps and an anchor point is easy to shove in a backpack or install at home, but opens up an entirely new world of training. One that has the ability to work every muscle group in the body... hard.
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What the hell is suspension training?
Don't take it from us, listen to Master Trainer Harry Aitken, who has been putting together detailed workout plans for suspension training specialists Auster Fitness for many years now.
"Suspension training is a style of bodyweight workout that uses straps to suspend the body. The hands hold, or feet are placed, in the straps and the user’s bodyweight is used as resistance. One of the biggest benefits of suspension training is that it is extremely easy to increase or decrease the difficulty of exercises. By simply increasing or decreasing the length of the straps and moving closer or further away from the anchor point, you can adjust the difficulty," he says.
And what's the benefit? Well, bodyweight training is extremely functional and most exercises train multiple muscle groups at once. "Suspension training is a very effective way to build muscle, build strong tendons and ligaments, burn fat and help to stabilise joints," says Harry.
On top of this, suspension training piddles all over the fixed motion machines you see in the gym, as it allows you to use your body through changing planes of motion and a variety of angles. This means increased muscle, ligament and tendon activation across various angles – ultimately leading to increased strength and stability.
What is the best suspension training system?
It has arguably become the Hoover of the suspension training world, as TRX is now synonymous with any workout that involves dangling from some straps, but this All-in-One system represents great value and includes everything you need to get started.
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The simple anchoring mechanism means you can set-up in a matter of seconds, using anything from a stable tree branch to a hotel door as an anchor point to get started. The fully adjustable and tough straps allow for both feet and hands to be used here, opening up a whole world of rapid, fat-burning workouts.
TRX also includes what it refers to as a 'best-in-class' 35-page workout guide, which will rapidly become your bible to all things suspension training.
Best suspension trainers
This all-in-one package is designed get even complete suspension training newbies into the swing of it, with the excellent TRX workout guide acting as detailed bedtime reading in order to get the most out of each session.
Its patented single point anchoring system promotes stability and encourages proper form throughout each exercise, while this kit includes everything you need to workout anywhere.
A choice of either a door anchor or the traditional TRX anchor, which loops around tree branches, posts or anything else that will easily take bodyweight without collapsing, increases the versatility.
This pack also comes with a handy carry bag, which makes it possible to bundle up the kit and easily shove it in a backpack or small bag when travelling. Those regularly working away or travelling the world can easily create a gym in the hotel room.
Much like the aforementioned TRX units, this bumper pack is designed to include everything you need to get started and working out on your travels. Therefore, it contains a solid main anchor point, Auster's own design power straps and a mesh backpack to transport them in.
On top of this, Auster throws in Dynamic Bands, which can selected in either light, medium or heavy. These are designed to add that additional stretch element to a workout in order to up the resistance and increase muscle.
Each strap is designed to withstand 550kg of force, meaning they are some of the safest around, while aerospace grade aluminium is used for all adjusters, anchors, carabiners and clips, further adding to peace of mind.
Buy from Auster Fitness
Perfect for those thinking of merely dipping a toe in the suspension training waters, this cheap and cheerful kit includes everything you need to get started, just without the additional flourishes, over-engineered elements and adjustability of more expensive systems.
The zinc alloy anchor point and straps are tested to support around 225kg of weight, which will be plenty enough for most humans, but it's not quite up there with the sturdiness of Auster or TRX.
Still, you get a decent 20-page workout guidebook, the straps are nicely adjustable for length (thus aiding fitness progression) and the whole kit weights just over 1kg, making it great for working out on the move.
Another no-frills suspension training system, but this time one that uses a clipping system to adjust the length of the straps, as opposed to the well-known TRX sliding method.
This takes a little getting used and it is slightly more fiddly, but the entire system is very easy to set-up and felt sturdy considering the affordable price point.
The pack includes a mesh bag for working out on the go, while it even contains a small 'workout in progress' warning card to hang on the door. Presumably so fellow house-dwellers don't slam a door in your face mid-workout.
Things don't get much more basic than this, as you essentially receive a set of sturdy straps that either wrap around a pole our attach to a closed door by sliding beneath the gap between door and frame.
It's not exactly ideal and the main anchor point doesn't seem the sturdiest here, but as a solution to lash to a tree branch or purpose-built pole, it will do the job nicely. The handles are fashioned from some pretty tough rubber though, which can get uncomfortable.
Regardless, there's a basic workout manual and the entire system packs down into a minuscule bag. It's probably not one for dedicated suspension athletes out there but it does the trick.
Buy from Decathlon.