Which Suspension Trainer is Right For You?

I have to admit, I don’t want to appear to be hopping onto a fad just because. The basic truth is, I love training toys. My training method, by nature, is geared more to body weight, band, and the local jungle gym than squat racks. I think there is a way to incorporate it all if you want to. The purpose of this article is to answer the following question, what system and price range is right for you? I decided the best thing for me to do was try out a few types of suspended trainers and see what I came up with.

Different Types and Options

There are quite a few styles of training devices out there. Believe it or not, this isn’t a brand new concept. If you are reading this you aren’t the caboose on the train, but you aren’t the engine either. I remember seeing the TRX back in 2007 and reading the arguments between it and the Jungle Gym. Before the TRX, there were other styles and types of suspension training systems. Recently, suspension training has undoubtedly boomed. I give a lot of credit of that to TRX, Men’s Health, and Robert dos Remedios.

For the purpose of simplicity, I am going to stick to discussing various brands of suspension trainers and rings.

Rings

I am going to keep it short because, for the most part, the rings have a little less versatility and their lack of rotation can irritate shoulders with certain movements. There has been decent research looking at the difference between rings and bar. The most important difference is, if you have a history with shoulder problems, you might want to be careful in your intensity progression. I noticed a much lower number of cases of shoulder irritation with the TRX style trainer, than with the rings.

Another downfall of rings is the lack of certain lower body exercises you can do with other suspension systems. Getting your feet in and out of the rings is possible, but not as fluid as with the others.

There truly is nothing like the rings. If you have the option to own both, go for it.

Suspension trainers

I tested the following:

TRX Brand Trainer
Freestyle Trainer

Homemade Trainer 1

I have not tested out the Jungle Gym, but have heard decent reviews.

Comparison of three different suspension trainers

Brand Cost Ease of Use(1-10) Door Use Durability ExerciseList/Video CustomerSupport Lower Body Work Overall Value Rating
TRX $189 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ***
Freestyle Trainer $50 7 Yes* Yes No Yes Yes *****
Homemade $20-35 8 Yes Yes** No No Yes ****

* Attaches to door via S ring. Could cause damage to weaker doors up top.
** Depends on materials used.

Overall opinion of each

TRX – With the TRX you are paying for style and a brand. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Much like a Mac user, it allows you to belong to a club. For some people, that is important.  The TRX  is for people who aren’t restricted by cost, and like everything in a compact box, basically ready to use. You get instructions, videos, customer support, and a fantastic product. It also has a modern style and  a more sturdy feel overall. I can’t make any complaints about the TRX; but, for some, the cost will be out of their range.

Freestyle Trainer – For me, this is the winner hands down. You can almost buy 4 for the price of one TRX training system. I also like the style better because of the use of the S clip. It allows for a further separation between straps and the ability to hang it from higher places easier in legacy mode.  I did downgrade its ease of use though, only because of the S clip being slightly more complicated for some than the carabiner. However, if you wanted to switch to a carabiner model it would be relatively easy to do so.

The customer support was excellent, and while they don’t send videos or instructions, they do provide instructions and tips online and fairly easy to find.

The only cons that pop to mind is the downfalls to the S clip system, but, as I said, you could easily change this if needed.

Homemade Version (via YouTube Clip) -Obviously you can’t beat the price and being you have to put together both systems, there is always a little work involved. Still, the act of going to the hardware store, figuring out new knots, and make-shifting a product isn’t for everyone. Also, if there are any problems or it is a bust, it is all on you. If generally talented with your hands, I say go for it. If not, spend the extra few bucks and get the Freestyle Trainer.

Types of anchoring?

The TRX site has a ton of anchoring accessories for the carabiner style systems. A door pull-up bar/system work  for all systems, too.  As I stated the S clip system may not be your preference for the door, so take that into consideration. You can also use the door anchor solo from TRX for $25 bucks and still save money.

Who can use a suspension training system?

Anyone.  I have bought 6 additional Freestyle Trainers to give to relatives/friends. I very rarely buy people fitness gear, but this is a no-brainer for the majority of the populations needs.

What can I use a suspension training system for?

Do I think that suspension training totally replaces the use or need of free weights? It depends on your needs. Not everyone is into fitness for the sake of getting “stacked” or completing a 500-pound deadlift. Some people want to increase their aerobic capacity, gain some mobility, and get a moderate amount of resistance work. This isn’t to say that suspension trainers can’t offer up extreme demands to physical challenge, because they can (e.g. handstand push-up assists, iron cross, hanging dips, etc).

I think everyone can benefit from having a suspension trainer even if for one use – mobility work.  The suspension trainer makes low grade resistance rows, dynamic stretches, and core work easy and fun. There is no reason you can’t strap this thing to your door and take a few moments to bust out a few movements. You can also do static stretch work with assists.

Aside from those things it certainly brings a switch up to traditional cardio.  Tomorrow I will share with you one of my new favorite cardio routines.

Can a bodybuilder/powerlifter/strongman benefit from this?

While I do think it has sufficient cardio and mobility uses, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense for advance physique training or high level strength requirement. If you want to get better at a deadlift, do deadlifts. Still, I think it provides extensive use for fillers between lifts and can be apart of a routine that keeps injury down.

The X Factor?

It’s fun. Simple as that, it is fun. When people enjoy something, they will do it more often. Since having the ability to hang these puppies up where ever I am, I have doubled my stretching and mobility work.

Conclusion

I highly recommend the use of suspension trainers. Decide which one you want based on your need and how easy you want things to be.

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Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian. This is merely an opinion blog. Read full disclaimer here - http://www.leighpeele.com/disclaimer