Suspension trainers have begun to crop up in gyms worldwide in recent years. Essentially just ropes with handles attached, they may seem unexciting and perhaps even slightly confusing to many gymgoers. Why play around with them when there is much more exciting, much fancier kit to play around with, after all?
I would caution against being so dismissive.
The best suspension trainers are a fantastic aid to a well-rounded resistance program. Their inherent instability challenges the torso’s muscles constantly through every movement, and the styles of movements that can be performed with them can greatly enhance your upper body musculature. They can help you to build a strong torso and core, whilst learning valuable skills and improving balance and proprioception.
There are other benefits, too.
Quick question: Do you have a shoulder press machine, chest press machine, squat rack or set of cables at home?
Do you have even a bench? Maybe you have one or the other, but probably not. They are expensive, unwieldy and largely mono purpose; they also take up a hell of a lot of room.
Another question: Do you have a doorway in your house?
Probably, I would guess.
You therefore have everything you need to set up a set of suspension trainers. From here, you have the ability to create a full upper body and core routine, with some legwork thrown in for good measure, that will challenge you and help you to elicit hypertrophy. All of this can be bought with change from fifty quid.
Using Suspension Trainers
If you know how to use them, suspension trainers can be amongst the most practical, portable and cost efficient pieces of fitness equipment going.
But you do need to know how to use them. There are a few things to bear in mind during your workouts if you’re using them.
Firstly, they generally work better with compound movements, in which multiple joints and muscle groups are used in any given movement. This isn’t always the case – you can use them for things like curls and triceps extensions – but they will generally be more effective when used for things like inverted rows, push ups and layouts.
This being said, the resistance will mostly come from your own bodyweight. Though it will be dependent on your strength level and own biometrics, and though you can adjust positioning to make an exercise harder, this will generally mean working in the high to mid-rep ranges.
Suspension trainers therefore make for great assistance work to a strength routine, or for great main movers in a hypertrophy or volume-based routine. You will not be able to hit a one rep max chest press, but you will be able to work on chest and triceps size, stability and volume capacity.
Finally, don’t go easy on yourself. This is true for any workout, but you will likely be using your suspension trainers at home or on the road. These spaces are notorious for sub-par effort levels. Treat training at home the same as you would training at the gym – you are there to hit progressive overload, which means high levels of stimulation, which means hard work.
Just because you’re not heaving a barbell around in the weights room, doesn’t mean you can slack off.
Choosing The Best Suspension Trainers
Anything you can buy for working out at home will have dozens of options, and often more. Across these options, you will find vast differences in quality, durability and user friendliness. You will also, of course, find large discrepancies in price.
It may be tempting to go cheap and cheerful, but you may get what you pay for. It may be tempting to go expensive, but then you may not get what you pay for. Instead, you need to balance all of these things – cost, quality, usability, longevity, and so on. We have done precisely this, so that you know that what we have on our list will be good value for money and good to work with.
We have looked at the quality of each set of suspension trainers. This includes how adaptable they are for different exercises, how well designed and built they are, how well viewed they are by other customers, and, of course, how cost-effective they are.
Anchor points are important with suspension trainers. The best set in the world are useless without something to hold them in place. So, we have also looked at the options each brings for attaching it to a doorframe, ground anchor or any type of support. If this is lacking, the suspension trainers are no good – and as a result they don’t make our list.
Weighing all of these up has given us a good list of options. Of these, six really stand out.
Our Top Six Suspension Trainers
With all of this in mind, and having scoured the world of suspension training (and run through a good few gruelling workouts with them), here are six of the best suspension trainers.
Our Top Pick: TRX Home Suspension Trainer Kit
TRX are very much leading the charge in suspension training, with the biggest reach, the most recognisable brand, and a good deal of early development under their belt. The clue is in their name, after all – TRX stands for Total-Body Resistance Exercise.
Their Home Suspension Kit is an excellent, if pricey, place to start. The straps themselves are what you might expect – they are fully adjustable, compact and light, durable and well-made, with foam handles – and are perfect for performing foundation movements, your squats, lunges, rows, pushes, and so forth.
However, you also get a workout guide, TRX wristbands, door placard, movements chart, workout poster, door anchor and mesh carry case, as well as a free code to access online TRX workouts to tone your upper body, lower body, and core. If you’re just starting out, this all-in-one kit will give you everything you need to get going and workout efficiently.
P3 Pro Suspension Trainer
This is the first of our really very reasonably priced offerings. For the aforementioned change from a fifty, you get quite a lot of well-made equipment. This includes an anchor, a couple of zinc alloy hoist buckles, two very comfortable, non-slip handles, a carry case and the two independently adjustable main straps needed for a suspension workout.
The straps themselves are made from a high-strength nylon, with a whopping max weight of 180kg, making them more than suitable for most athletes.
You can, of course, adjust everything for any of the usual repertoire of exercises expected of a suspension trainer, all for next to nothing. They are a perfect, more economical counterpart to TRX’s pricier equipment.
TRX Training – GO Suspension Trainer Kit
GO is the most lightweight trainer that TRX offer and is designed for immediate use – they claim that it can be set up in under a minute, and I have to concur that it really is a quick, convenient set up.
It’s also specifically designed for all skill levels – though, I would argue that all suspension trainers are relevant for all skill levels, so this is perhaps moot. Nevertheless, if TRX are trying to make it easy for a novice to get involved in suspension training, they have managed it.
The TRX GO suspension kit comes with the suspension bands themselves, as well as a wall anchor, four mini resistance bands, mesh carry bag and a nifty little stainless steel water bottle. The latter isn’t a make or break – you wouldn’t buy it just for a water bottle! – but it is nevertheless a nice touch from a good product.
If you want simplicity, ease of use and beginner friendly equipment, the GO is a good place to look.
PROTONE Suspension Strap Training System
The PROTONE Suspension Strap Training System is another remarkably economical choice, coming in at the lower end of this list for pricing. It also works excellently and is very well designed and built, so should automatically be worthy of your attention.
Included are two suspension straps with comfortable, grippy handles. All of this has reinforced stitching for extra strength, durability and (when suspended from it) peace of mind. In addition, you get a door jamb anchor, a couple of extension straps, a carry bag and a set up guide. You can use your door as an anchor point from which any workout can be made possible.
The straps also work well looped over a tree branch or climbing frame, if you want to take your training into the great outdoors.
The PROTONE Suspension Strap Training System does exactly what you want it to. It is secure, well built, very comfortable to use and easy to adjust. It will save you a lot of money over more expensive models without making you sacrifice much at all by way of experience or outcome.
Keafols Pro Suspension System Training Kit
This is another incredibly sturdily built, well-made piece of equipment. Keafols’ Pro Suspension System Training Kit features strong stitching, heavy-duty hardware and military grade nylon straps. The grips used are also very comfortable and well padded, meaning you can perform any given exercise in safety and comfort, knowing that you will be kept safe and stable.
You receive two suspension straps, a door anchor, two handles, two foot cradles and a mesh carry bag for ease of travel with each order, all for a relatively modest price (you’ll just about get change from that fifty!) The straps are easy to adjust and work with, giving you a great way to zero in on any muscle group without too much hassle. You can anchor the straps to any door, fence, rafter, beam, climbing frame or tree and workout confidently. This really is a good one for anybody looking to train as they travel around.
Keafols genuinely seem concerned about consumer satisfaction, too. They offer a lifetime free replacement and 90 day money back guarantee with every purchase. You can send it back without any problems in the unlikely event that their suspension training kit doesn’t pass muster.
UONNER Suspension Trainer Kit
UONNER are another reasonably affordable option, generally pricing in line with the likes of KEAFOLS. Their suspension training kit, like everything else on this list, does what it needs to do – it will allow you to perform a full range of movements, from rows to presses, squats to mountain climbers – without costing too much. In fact, you’ll get it for about the same as a month’s membership at a mid-range leisure centre.
Their suspension system is made from pretty durable polyester, so it will last you a long time and stay good and strong as you train. The sutures and stitching are reinforced and equally firm, and the carabiners top it all off with a comforting solidity.
It is quick, simple and easy to set up with a simple door jamb. There is also an outdoor anchor strap for use in your garden or local park – loop it over a branch, pole or beam and get to it. As with many other products on our list, one of the prevailing aspects of this product is the freedom you get with it, to go anywhere and train anything.
The point of a decent set of suspension trainers is to allow for good-quality bodyweight exercises with a range of movements and stimulation levels, with freedom and portability. They should be secure, easy to use and easy to travel with.
All of the above fulfil these criteria ably and elegantly. Hopefully one of them – or more – has appealed to you. If you invest in any and commit to using them as they should be used, you have a series of decent workouts in your grasp for the near future.
Whether you want all the bells and whistles at a professional price, as you get with TRX’s offerings, or you want something a little more pared back and affordable, as companies like KEAFOL and PROTONE offer, there will be something in our list that should work for you.
You will have a strong, able, skilfully adapted and probably quite toned looking torso in no time.