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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 that I love training toys. My training method, by nature, is geared more toward body weight exercises, bands, and the local jungle gym than squat racks. I think there is a way to incorporate it all if you want. The purpose of this article is to answer the following question, what system and price range is right for you? I decided the best way to determine that was to try out a few types of suspension trainers and see what happened.

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 at the end of 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 exploded. 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 this short because, for the most part, the rings have a little less versatility and a lack of rotation that can irritate shoulders when doing certain movements. There has been decent research looking at the differences between the rings and the bar, and the most important one is if you have a history of shoulder problems, you might want to be careful in your intensity progression. I noted a much lower number of cases of shoulder irritation with the TRX style trainer than with the rings.

Another downfall of the rings is the lack of certain lower body exercises that 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 did not test 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 the 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 sturdy feel overall. I don’t have any complaints about the TRX; but for some, the cost will be prohibitive.

Freestyle Trainer – For me, this is the winner hands down. You can almost buy four of them 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 the straps and the ability to hang it from higher places easily in legacy mode. I did downgrade its ease of use though, only because the S clip is slightly more complicated 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 easy to find instructions and tips online.

The only con is the S clip system, but as I said, you could easily change that if needed.

Homemade Version (via YouTube Video) – Obviously, you can’t beat this price. Although there is work involved in putting together the other systems, 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 you are 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 website has a ton of anchoring accessories for the carabiner style systems. A door pull-up bar/system works too. As 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 the TRX and still save money.

Who Can Use a Suspension Training System?

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

What Are Different Uses for a Suspension Training System?

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 do 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 crosses, hanging dips, etc).

I think everyone can benefit from having a suspension trainer even if for one use only—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 assistance.

Aside from those, it certainly switches up traditional cardio. Tomorrow, I will share with you one of my new favorite cardio routines.

Can a Bodybuilder/Powerlifter/Strongman or Woman 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 advanced physique training or high level strength requirements. If you want to get better at a deadlift, do deadlifts. Still, I think it provides usefulness for fillers between lifts and can be a part of a routine to help decrease injury.

The X Factor?

It’s fun. Simple as that, it is fun. When people enjoy doing 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 needs and how easy you want things to be.

Do You Support These Products with Affiliate Promotions?

Yes, I support both of these products in affiliate promotions. If you would like to support me at leighpeele.com, please feel free to purchase through the links listed in this post. If not you can easily find both of these products online.

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