As with many fitness fads, suspension trainers are the “in” thing. But is it a fad if it really works? Originally part of Navy Seal training, the best suspension trainers use your own body weight to train and that’s what makes them so popular.
They’re fairly inexpensive and they’re perfect if you can’t get to a gym to use at home. As long as you’ve got a door, tree, beam or some sort of strong support above you this is a great way to workgroups of muscles together in a way that means you’re getting a more together workout than just traditional methods in the same or less time.
The best thing about the best suspension trainers is that their workout is unique and it can improve everything from core to strength, flexibility and it can also improve your awareness of your body.
This works through suspension as you have to be aware of your balance and weight or you’ll fall. It’s an ideal way to improve your stability without having to put a lot of stress on your joints or do anything high impact.
The trainers are also portable, and while the option to “work anywhere” may depend on what anchor points you have it can be taken outside or used inside as long as you have something that will support your body weight.
The only downside to suspension trainers is that because they aren’t like any other exercise they do take some adjustment and it can be frustrating if you have a very punishing schedule since you’ll be spending time figuring out the exercises rather than pushing yourself training.
|#1||Indoor and Outdoor||Quick Start Exercise Sheet||4.9/5|
|#2||Portable Suited for Travelers||Carry Bag + Workout Guide||4.7/5|
|#3||Heavy Duty||Setup Guide||4.7/5|
|#4||Simple to Install||Workout Chart + Downloadable Video||4.6/5|
|#5||Lots of Helpful Bonuses||8 DVD + Nutrition Plan + Exercise Guide + Carry Bag||4.4/5|
Best Suspension Trainers Reviews
1. Lifeline Jungle Gym XT
With everything, you need to get started the Jungle Gym has the basic equipment covered. This is an ideal package for someone who is already familiar with suspension trainers since it doesn’t come with any DVDs or extra stuff (but you can download it from them if you want).
The system is all easy to wipe down and the foot cradles are specially designed to help you flow better through movements. The strap widths are adjustable thanks to the split anchors so you can get a wider range of exercises too.
- TPE Wipe down Handles
- Anchors Separate
- Adjustable width dual anchors
The dual anchor system really makes a huge difference here as it allows you to get more advanced moves than the TRX or the Woss when it comes to full bodyweight suspension. This means you can also use cross-fit style moves and gymnastic moves.
This makes much more sense if you’re planning on using the system for strength training alone rather than as an addition to a training routine. The TPE plastic handles are ideal for sanitizing and so are the optional Olympic rings.
If you plan on using this on a door frame you’ll need to pay extra for the split anchors but they seem to be worth it. The handles don’t rotate which can be frustrating and uncomfortable for some exercises.
It’s also pretty stiff at first and will take some breaking in before it’s fully usable. There’s also no play on the handles because of the foot cradles. The only way to attach this system is using a closed door, and this will put your bodyweight forward of the anchor point, something that may not be suitable for all exercises and may frustrate users.
2. TRX Training Suspension Trainer Kit
This is the original suspension trainer designed by Randy Hetrick. The price is double that of the Jungle Gym but you’re also getting a lot more stuff. The TRX has rotating foam handles that are designed for comfort and for maximum versatility giving you a wide range of exercises.
This is ideal if you want more from your suspension training than simple strength. It also includes a selection of anchors, workout guide and a bag to store everything in when not in use. This is the system used by most professional teams in their training.
The TRX has a high weight rating up to 350lb, ideal if you want to add a weight vest to your workout.
- Single Point Anchor
- Rotating Foam Handles
This is a solid and well-made system that you can tell has quality materials put in and not crap from China. The plastic handles are sponge wrapped for comfort and it uses a single point anchor system for maximum stability when working out. The straps are adjustable and combined with the rotating handles means you’ve got a wide range of actions that you can’t do on the Jungle Gym that go beyond strength training.
This comes with the door strap but not the suspension anchors and you’ll have to purchase them separate despite the fact that they’re used in the workouts that come with the system.
Unlike the Jungle Gym the system isn’t modular and can’t be taken apart to replace pieces when they break or wear out which means you’ll have to replace the entire piece of the system.
The door anchor also requires that you have a door that opens away from you to workout which may be problematic for some users. Also be careful purchasing if you decide on the TRX brand because there are a lot of fakes.
3. Rip:60 Home Gym E
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While it’s no the cheapest it’s certainly way cheaper than the TRX with more accessories. This is the system favored by MMA fighter Georges St. Pierre and includes a 60-day workout program including 8 DVDs by Jillian Michaels and a nutritional guide.
This is the ideal beginner system because it shows you a variety of things you can do and gives you something to work along to until you’re comfortable using it on your own. It can accommodate up to 300lb and while it is sturdier than some others it will still pack away.
- DVDs and Nutritional Guide
- 300lb limit
- Adjustable straps.
With a fairly challenging workout, these DVDs are designed to get you familiar with the product, sure they might be repetitive but until you’re comfortable with the exercises and the form this is the only way. These workouts can even be challenging for pros since the trainers include former Olympians! There are also exercises using kettlebells with the trainer.
The straps are really long when used with a door anchor, and you may bang your feet into the door or scratch the door with the metal buckles. The DVDs have many sections that are the same every day and this can be both boring and repetitive.
The warm-up is also particularly high impact which may be an issue for some. It’s slightly heavier and bulkier than the TRX which means it’s designed more for a beam support than the door and since it weighs more it’s less packable. The foot cradles are also not designed to be used with bare feet.
4. Fitness Training Pro Suspension System
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With custom-designed carabiners to lock into place, this is pretty sturdy for a lower-priced trainer. The hand and foot grips are rubberized for comfort and the ebbing is extra wide (1.5”) compared to others which means it’s much more comfortable against the skin
Both sides can be adjusted and the cams are spring-loaded for smooth motion and metal for durability. These are solid and can easily take a 300lb load without wobbling.
- TRX Copy
- 2 Anchors & Carry Bag
- Tool Install
Unlike several other systems, this has padded foot grips too, something that is missing from many trainers. This is almost identical side by side to the TRX and is a quarter of the price, the main difference is stitching on the webbing and favors a style of buckle that is no longer used by TRX.
The handles are solid and secure. This is the perfect alternative for someone who wants to save a little money off the TRX package and cut out the additional workout DVDs and unnecessary extras that come with it.
You actually need tools to install this, and while the wrench is included this is annoying to have to carry if you want something portable. There are no workouts included at all. The door wheel isn’t quite as stable as the TRX and while it’s functional it’s not quite as smooth.
The straps are slightly thinner which affects the comfort minimally when compared to wider webbing. The stability loop is also not as stable as it could be.
Suspension Trainers Buyers Guide
When looking to buy a suspension trainer you’re obviously going to be interested in the price. Most trainers run between $30 to $150 and the price range is usually dependent on whether you’re getting DVDs, storage bags and other extras too.
Whether you need all these or not depends on your comfort level with the exercises, though there are plenty of free online videos and information too.
The most important part of your system is the strap itself. You’ll need something that is durable and smooth enough to rub against your skin without chaffing. The straps will come in various lengths but you nee something that is adjustable if you want the full range of exercises.
The handles come second because if they’re not comfortable you will get blisters. If you have larger hands you can test the comfort by making sure your hand has enough wiggle room without getting pinched.
When buying a suspension trainer you should look for:
- A comfortable Weight Limit
- How Many Anchors it comes with
- Is it truly portable or do you need tools to install?
- How durable are the straps and buckles
- Whether it’s worth the cost
- Do you need to buy additional equipment for that model
A suspension trainer can be a great addition to an existing fitness schedule but it can also be an ideal exercise on it’s own to focus on strength and stability. While most trainers are inherently similar the quality of construction differs.
The biggest design difference is whether or not the handles rotate and how the system is anchored. A dual anchor system like the Jungle Gym XT gives you a much wider variety of exercises even though you can’t rotate the handles. This is arguably the best suspension trainers overall even though the TRX is better known.
If you’ve decided that a suspension trainer is for you then go ahead and get one, and if you’re not sure you can use one check around for local classes to get familiar with them first.