Build a killer body with free weights and suspension straps with this old school meets new school workout.
You may have noticed one of the latest additions in your gym — those cool-looking yellow and black straps, likely from TRX International, hanging in certain sections of the training facility. Perhaps even one of your friends has a similar kit in his home gym. If you haven’t seen this gear yet, trust us, you soon will. The fitness world is witnessing the growth of suspension training, or more broadly, bodyweight leverage training, which has been increasingly used by professional sports teams in recent years and is now infiltrating the training environments of everyday gym heads like us.
According to surveys conducted by both the IDEA Health & Fitness Association and the American Council on Exercise, bodyweight leverage training will be one of the top programming trends among trainers in 2012. And there are good reasons for the explosion in the growth of this training technique: It’s a simple, versatile and very effective method for adding a new challenge to your workouts. Plus, the tools of suspension training make a nice addition to your home gym and, because they’re portable, they can easily accommodate an active guy’s lifestyle. Says, Bill Sonnemaker, MS, PES, CES, CSCS and founder of Catalyst Fitness in Atlanta, “What makes this equipment so accessible is its portability, whether at a commercial gym, personal training studio, home gym, camping trip or hotel room. It can be easily set up and used.”
YOU AND SUSPENSION TRAINING
Although you can get in a great workout exclusively using suspension equipment, a case can easily be made for getting a more rounded and comprehensive workout by combining suspension work with traditional workouts that use barbells, dumbbells, machines and so on. The best way to launch into suspension training without feeling like you’re a free-weight Benedict Arnold is to incorporate suspension moves into a classic push-pull free-weight regimen. And that’s what the new Reps! has created here exclusively for you.
WHAT’S SUSPENSION TRAINING?
Put simply, suspension training is just how it sounds: You either hold onto the suspension handles or suspend your ankles inside the straps and work out. The inherent instability of the suspension straps creates an additional challenge for your muscles, engaging them in different ways than with free weights. Additionally, the suspension approach forces your body to move into many new positions with which it’s unfamiliar during exercise. Hence, new neural patterns of movement may be established as you enlist muscle fibers that aren’t often engaged with more standard forms of resistance training.
Adjusting the resistance load (that is, the difficulty of a suspension exercise) is a simple matter. When holding onto the handles, the lower your torso is to the ground, the more difficult the exercise becomes. So, by moving your feet in one direction from the suspension point, you can reduce the angle of the exercise and increase the resistance. By moving in the opposite direction, you can increase the angle and reduce the resistance.
In other words, the closer you are to standing vertically the less difficult the exercise is; and the more severe the angle you create with your body, the more resistance you deliver to the working muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.
BENEFITS OF PAIRING THE SETS
This dynamic workout involves single sets and paired sets. The paired sets are indicated by A) and B) in both the workout charts and exercise descriptions. Perform each exercise in a given paired set back-to-back with as little rest as needed (e.g., do 12–15 reps of suspension biceps curls immediately after doing 10–12 reps of suspension rear-delt flyes, resting only as long as it takes to transition from one movement to the next).
Pairing exercise sets in this manner increases workout intensity by reducing the time between certain movements, which helps you complete more high-quality exercise in less time. Plus, it also allows you to work a greater number of muscles during a given training session, and the more muscles you work, the greater amount of calories you’ll burn!
Workout A: Upper Body Pull Day
(Hits lats, biceps)
Using a shoulder-width or wider overhand grip, hang from a chinning bar, legs extended beneath you. You can cross your ankles and keep a slight bend in your knees. Slowly pull yourself up toward the bar until your chin has moved beyond its plane. Lower yourself slowly.
2a. DUMBBELL ROW
(Hits upper lats, mid-upper back)
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and bend forward at the waist until the torso forms a 45-degree angle or so. As your arms hang full, maintain a natural arch in the lower back. Retract your scapulae and pull up the dumbbells at an angle toward your sides, stopping when the dumbbells arrive …