As a young trainer I was often bemused by the pronouncements of some of the older and wiser fitness instructors at the gymnasium where I worked: “you don’t need weights to build muscles” some of them used to say “body weight training is the way forwards”. I used to laugh inwardly and think that they were quite mad! As I have developed my knowledge and worked with hundreds of clients I have begun to revise my views. It is not so much the weight we are lifting, it is how we are lifting it and the effect that this is placing on our bodies- the intensity of the resistance. Some of the most impressive physiques on the planet have been built using bodyweight training. There is nothing new in using the body’s weight as a form of resistance through suspension. In fact, rope training drills have been around since the early 1800s.
Suspension training, as the name suggests, entails using devices such as cables, straps, pulleys, harnesses, and ropes to allow the body to leverage its own weight against a fixed point. In the 1990s and 2000s, several prominent fitness trainers realised the potential of this approach to strength and conditioning. The products they developed included TRX (Randy Hetrick, former Navy Seal), FKPro (Mark Hammond, former UK football coach), and the aeroSling ELITE made in Germany. The advocates of Suspension Training have always maintained that, in addition to building strength in the active muscles, it develops core strength, and joint stability. These are advantages which should help us perform better in our daily activities, and be less likely to encounter injury. Equally, there are some concerns within the Sport Science community that individuals who are too weak may not have the base stability levels needed to support their own bodyweight in such a dynamic way- these people may not be able to use suspension training systems safely or effectively.
To see suspension training in action check out this video from leading manufacturer TRX whose equipment we use at MotivatingMax: