Working out has long been a way of life for many, while others are slowly realizing that fitness is simply necessary for a truly healthy existence. With that said, not everyone can or wants to get to a public gym every other day. Whether it’s the distance, lack of time, annoying gym rats, unavailable equipment, or something else, there’s a lot to dislike about the gym.
One alternative that is becoming popular is suspension trainers. Today we’ll show you our picks for the best suspension trainer for unique home workouts.
Why suspension trainers? Because they’ve proven to be a highly versatile piece of equipment that you can use anywhere that has an overhead anchor. Do they have drawbacks? Absolutely. But, a simple cost-benefit analysis of any half-decent suspension trainer shows that it offers a lot of value to the average athlete / fitness enthusiast. It can serve as your main setup for full body workouts that utilize your bodyweight in unique ways, or as an auxiliary tool you can use to add a bit of variety to your usual routine.
The fact that there are so many different exercises you can perform with these simple devices has made suspension trainers a favorite among frequent travelers. The key is finding a good set that works for you and delivers the kind of reliability you want. After all, you’ll be loading close to your entire body’s weight on them. Let’s dig in.
Best Suspension Trainer At a Glance
Best Suspension Trainer Overall
The TRX all-in-one system is the original and best suspension trainer – it started it all. This kit features everything you need to get started. The straps are high quality and offer safe performance, day-in day-out. TRX packed this kit with a bunch of cool accessories as well as a workout manual.
Best Value Suspension Trainer
With their success, TRX has created a lot of fierce competition. TRX Go is their answer to the ever-growing market of affordable suspension trainers. Designed to work as good as the original, TRX Go is a lightweight solution for those who travel a lot or just appreciate the simplicity.
Best Budget Suspension trainer
QonQuill’s BodyWeight fitness training kit has taken TRX’s original design and improved it in several ways. It’s an independent system with two separate straps, which means more versatility right out of the box. On top of that, this is a very affordable system, making it perfect for budget users.
The Best Suspension Trainer
|TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System||
|TRX Go Suspension Training System||
|QonQuill Bodyweight Fitness Training Kit||
|Lifeline Jungle Gym XT||
|NOSSK Twin Pro Bodyweight Fitness Strap Trainer||
|TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System|
|TRX Go Suspension Training System|
|QonQuill Bodyweight Fitness Training Kit|
|Lifeline Jungle Gym XT|
|NOSSK Twin Pro Bodyweight Fitness Strap Trainer|
TRX is the original inventor of the suspension training system. The man behind it is Randy Hetrick a former US Navy SEAL operator who came up with Total Resistance eXercise back in the ’90s. The fact that we’re here discussing suspension systems is a testament to his ingenuity and the effectiveness of suspension training in general.
Even after all these years, TRX is still the best brand for suspension training systems. Bar none. With them, you are going straight to the source. The only downside is the premium price, but that’s the cost of going for the best. What you get in this package is well worth the investment. You’ve got the legendary TRX suspension strap, a carrying bag, and a set of indoor and outdoor anchors.
On top of that, they’ve included a paper manual with the entire TRX routine, while you also get a digital edition with a few extra exercises. As far as build quality goes, you really have nothing to worry about. This particular set of straps has been tried and tested numerous times since the ’90s. Since then, they’ve ironed out whatever kinks and flaws the original setup had. TRX is the way to go if you want zero risk and all the benefits.
- The original system made by people who invented suspension training
- Rock solid build quality that works both indoors and outdoors
- Comes with plenty of accessories, including a manual
The Not So Good
- It’s not really a budget-friendly option
The previous model we’ve talked about is the full-sized, complete package from TRX. However, they have a few more solutions available in their offer. TRX Go is one that stands out. Whether or not suspension straps are already light enough to be considered mobile in nature is up for discussion.
The truth is that anyone who has ever packed a bag knows that ounces turn to pounds very quickly. The TRX Go was designed to be as light as possible, without compromising the core features of the device itself. In other words, you are still getting the rock solid build quality, the inherent versatility of the original design and more. Only, all of it comes in a lighter package.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why is this model cheaper than the previous one if everything is more or less the same? While the TRX Go is every bit as robust, it comes without some of the accessories you get with the full-size model. To be more specific, you get fewer printable workouts, no video workouts, and limited accessories. This makes the TRX Go a perfect choice for those who want the quality this brand offers but are operating on a budget.
- Affordable TRX package that works every bit as good as the original
- Lightweight setup that’s perfect for frequent travelers
- Comes with sweat absorbing grips
The Not So Good
- Features a limited number of printable workouts
- Plenty of other challengers in this price range
TRX may have been the first to come up with suspension trainers, but they definitely aren’t the only show in town. QonQuill is just one of their competitors who took the original suspension trainer design, adopted it and improved it in a few ways. QonQuill’s BodyWeight Fitness Training Kit features two straps, a travel bag, an extension strap, a door anchor and an exercise book.
Here’s where things start to differ from the original TRX design. Instead of going with a single point strap design, they made each strap fully autonomous. In other words, you aren’t limited to a V type strap setup. You can use each one as a standalone piece or you can put them together in that classic V layout. The important thing is that you have options.
Both straps feature a quality carabiner at the end that you can use as a door anchor point. With that said, QonQuill has designed this set with several anchoring solutions in mind, including fixed wall mounts which you have to get separately. As far as quality goes, the straps are made out of decent quality nylon that inspires confidence. Even if they fail after a year or so, you’d still get your money’s worth at this price.
- Very affordable compared to brand name competition
- Features independent straps
- Can be anchored in 5 different ways
The Not So Good
- Wall mount anchor points are not included
- User manual could have been better
Next up is another system that took the original design and tried to improve it. Lifeline is marketing their Jungle Gym XT as a no-nonsense suspension trainer setup for those who just want to get after it. It makes perfect sense on paper. But what is it like in actual use? There are two main benefits to this model. It is a simple setup for sure, with two standalone straps and not much more.
Each strap has the anchor points built into them so you don’t need to attach anything or worry about the accessories. The cool thing about their anchor point design is that it works on doors, bars, and their proprietary wall mounts. But wait, there’s more. One of the main selling points for Jungle Gym XT are the fast adjustment cam buckles.
The idea is that you can quickly adjust the length of the strap and not waste time fiddling with buckles in the middle of your routine. To achieve this, Lifeline used an interesting fast adjustment mechanism. Although it does work, this is also the weakest point of this model. These buckles are known to slip in rare cases, which can be an issue. However, it is one of the more proven systems.
- Reasonable bang for the buck value
- Simple design that is light and great for traveling
- Features an integrated door anchor design
The Not So Good
- Fast adjust buckles can slip from time to time
- No hard anchor points available in the kit
Lastly, we have a super simple and very affordable suspension trainer to show you. It comes from NOSSK and it’s perfect for budget users and those who aren’t sure they want to commit to more expensive models. The most interesting thing about this setup are the straps themselves. NOSSK has used military-grade webbing. In all honesty, these straps look like the US Army riggers use to secure payloads on transport flights, only less beefy.
This rings especially true if you get the OD version. The overall simplicity of design is probably the best thing about these suspension trainers. There’s no complicated stitching or other possible weak points. It’s just a strap with a few simple buckles on it and a set of handlebars. As a result, NOSSK Twin Pro is very light, durable enough and pretty versatile. So what’s the catch? There really isn’t one.
You pretty much get what you pay for with these. NOSSK Twin Pro works well and won’t fail you. However, that’s about it. You’re not getting anything fancy, no extra features, just the straps themselves. That’s more than enough for many, but some like the extra accessories other systems offer.
- Extremely affordable model
- Simple, lightweight and straightforward design
- Durable straps with little to no weak points
The Not So Good
- No extra features included
- Soft foot straps
Who Should Get a Suspension Trainer?
Suspension trainers are fantastic options for people keen on utilizing their own bodyweight to improve their health and fitness, and / or those looking for a convenient and easy way of working out at home, outdoors, or while they travel. Let’s look at this in a bit more depth:
Bodyweight training (a.k.a. calisthenics) is a great way to get fit and strong. As with any form of resistance training, you progressively get bigger and stronger as your muscles adapt to be able to manipulate your own body’s weight.
However, calisthenics also has some key limitations. Beginners are often yet to develop the strength needed to push or pull their own bodyweight. Conversely, those who are more advanced may find that regular bodyweight exercises no longer present a significant challenge.
While there are an almost infinite number of ways to modify bodyweight exercises to increase the resistance, many such exercise variations are overly difficult (e.g., planches, levers, and muscle ups just to name a few). Mastering them requires a huge amount of dedication, hard work, and inevitable frustration. Unlike weightlifting, it’s not as simple as adding a weight plate – the fundamental exercises must be altered. Many people simply aren’t interested in dedicating themselves to this, which is completely understandable.
Suspension trainers provide a great solution for both beginners and advanced exercisers alike.
By its very nature, suspending bodyweight via a suspension trainer allows you to adjust the resistance of any exercise up or down. This benefits beginners because they’re able to start easy with a low level of resistance that helps them develop the necessary strength to then be able to move onto more challenging levels of resistance.
For more advanced users, suspension trainers are a great tool to push through a plateau in their bodyweight routine. You can increase the resistance easily, and attack the same muscles from new angles, thus introducing that new stimuli that our bodies love to adapt to.
Additionally, using suspension trainers helps to activate and strengthen the core muscles, which also has wide-ranging benefits.
Suspension trainers are extremely versatile in that they can be used just about anywhere that has an overhead anchor. For example, you can loop your trainer over a tree branch or kids’ climbing equipment at the park or any overhead beam in your home and you have a simple and effective training tool.
Most suspension trainers also have in-built or added attachments that allow you to use any door as the anchor, meaning you can use them in any room of your house or even a hotel room when you’re travelling. This further increases their versatility and convenience, and provide a great option for people who are limited in their ability to get good-quality exercise due to the nature of their home (no overhead anchors, like in an apartment) or their lifestyle (e.g., travel a lot for work).
So, to answer the question originally posed: If you want a convenient and effective means of exercising that won’t burn too much of a whole in your bank account, then yes you should get a suspension trainer.
Choosing the Right Suspension Trainer
Even though suspension trainers are just hitting the mainstream, there are plenty of models out there to choose from. The key is finding one that is proven to work. But, how do you do that? How do you find a set of suspension trainers that will be durable enough for daily use? Let’s take a look:
Right off the bat, you’ll want to pay attention to the quality of the straps. They need to be made out of quality nylon. Higher the denier, the better. As it turns out, most straps you can find these days are good to go. So we can move on to the next point.
Cam Buckles and Anchor Hardware
Cam buckles are a big one. They are a natural weak point for two reasons. First and foremost, buckles are usually stitched into place. If the stitches give way, it doesn’t matter how good the actual buckle is. Secondly, plastic buckles can fail over time. The same goes for anchoring hardware. This is where going with proven models is your best bet.
Overall, the best thing you can do is find a reputable brand and stick with them. The ones on our list are perfectly fine in that regard. Stay clear of dirt cheap gear.
Frequently Asked Questions About Suspension Trainers
With all of that out of the way, let’s try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have regarding suspension trainers.
What are the benefits of suspension training?
There are so many benefits to suspension training that are often overlooked. For starters, you can do it anywhere. You can take your straps outside, mount them on a tree and do your workout. It’s a perfect travel system. Oh, and the whole thing is affordable.
Moving onto more concrete stuff, suspension training builds the core. Being stable on a pair of straps is hard work. In order to get there, your core will have to work overtime. Even if you’re not directly trying to, you’ll find yourself working your abs, pelvic muscles and chest just by maintaining the stability of the trainer.
Speaking of which, suspension training greatly improves coordination and balance. It’s all part a part of using a non-fixed system. Best of all, this is just scratching the surface.
Can you build muscle with suspension training?
Suspension training is a form of resistance training, and therefore it absolutely does build muscle. That said, it probably won’t get you the same results as weight training. Remember, this is still a bodyweight exercise and has inherent limitations in the extent to which you can progressively overload your muscles (which is a key requirement for stimulating muscle growth).
But, suspension trainers combined with traditional calisthenics can still yield great results. A good trainer can be used when you’ve plateaued with standard bodyweight exercises. You can increase the resistance of some of those standard exercises, as well as modify the angles of push and pull, thus creating a new stimulus for your muscles to adapt to (by growing larger).
Is suspension training good for beginners?
You may be wondering if suspension training is something you could start with. The answer is ‘yes, but’. Suspension trainers can be used to perform highly complex and demanding exercises, but they can also be used to do more basic bodyweight workouts.
The key is to pace yourself and always be aware of your own limits. If you are not sure whether or not this is a good starting point for you, we suggest you try regular calisthenics first. Basic bodyweight exercises will introduce you to fitness with little to no risks involved. Plus, you’ll build a foundation that will serve as a good starting point later on. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your personal preference.
Working with straps won’t hurt you if you’re careful but it can potentially be challenging if you’re brand new to bodyweight exercises, especially if you’re tempted to push your limits before you’re ready. Always make sure that you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to avoid injuries.
Well, there you have it: The Best Suspension Trainers for a Unique Home Workout
Suspension training is nothing new. We’ve been using straps since the dawn of the 20th century. However, they are just reaching the mainstream. We’ll see a lot more studies done to determine the actual value of these exercises. Even so, the knowledge we have now puts suspension trainers among the most useful fitness accessories you can have at your disposal. The models we’ve chosen have been proven a hundred times over by now. We did our best to include affordable as well as lightweight solutions. That way, there’s a good match on there for just about everyone.