Suspension Training Can Transform Your Bodyweight Workouts

Woman using suspension trainer at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Suspension trainers, such as the TRX, have been a godsend during the pandemic. By anchoring one to a door frame or hooking it over a bar or branch in the park, you can give an extra dimension to bodyweight exercises that otherwise might cease to pose a challenge.

“The TRX allows you to use your weight with pulling exercises, like rows and hamstring curls, addressing any imbalances that might develop if all you do is press-up and squat,” says Eva Simanavicius, trainer at London fitness studio Core Collective, who has devised this six-move suspension training session to target the glutes, thighs, chest, back, arms and core in one. 

“This workout includes a lot of time under tension work which helps with building strength and muscle,” says Simanavicius, “and by adjusting your position in relation to the anchor point you can make it easier or harder, depending on your level.” 

You’ll find suspension trainers in most gyms, but they’re also among the best bits of home gym equipment. That’s because, unlike dumbbells, you never outgrow them and need to upgrade to a heavier set, and they can be tucked away in a drawer. You don’t have to pay top dollar for a TRX either – you’ll find options for all budgets in our round-up of the best suspension trainers. If you do use a door frame to set up your suspension trainer, make sure that nobody’s likely to burst in mid-workout and send you flying across the room. You have been warned.

The Workout

The workout is broken into three supersets. The first will target the lower body with a dynamic pushing move, followed by a slow and controlled pulling exercise. Next is a push-and-pull pair of moves for the upper body, then two core exercises to finish. Each set is performed for time rather than reps, so pace yourself to ensure your technique doesn’t falter. 

Before giving this workout a go, Simanavicius strongly recommends taking time to warm up as it kicks off with an intense squat combo that will spike your heart rate quickly. “With your warm-up, the objective is to ignite the muscles, pump blood around the body to add some heat and get you focused for the session ahead,” she says. 

And remember, you can make it easier or harder by adjusting the length of the TRX handles and your foot position in relation to the anchor point, so bear this in mind if you’re having to tap out mid-set. 

1A TRX alternating squat and squat jump

TRX squat suspension training exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3-4 Time 60sec Rest 30sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding the handles, then step back until there is tension in the suspension trainer. Bend your knees to lower into a squat, using the TRX to provide extra support, then drive through your heels to stand up. Next, lower into a squat, then drive up powerfully to jump just off the floor. Land softly and continue into the next rep, alternating between a squat and a squat jump. 

1B TRX glute bridge into hamstring curl 

TRX glute bridge suspension training exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3-4 Time 60sec Rest 30sec

Lie on your back with your heels in the cradles around 30cm off the floor. Press your lower back into the floor to engage your core and start with a 90° bend in your knees. Drive your bum up so your knees, hips and shoulders are in alignment. Next, extend your legs, keeping tension in your glutes and hamstrings, then return them and lower into the start position.

2A TRX chest press

TRX chest press suspension training exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3-4 Time 60sec Rest 30sec

Stand facing away from the anchor point, holding the handles with your arms extended. Engage your core and glutes, then bend your elbows to bring your chest level with your hands. Drive up powerfully to extend your arms and continue into the next rep. 

2B TRX supinated row

TRX row suspension training exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3-4 Time 60sec Rest 30sec

This time, hold the TRX handles and stand facing the anchor point. Adjust your feet so you can lean back at a similar angle as for the chest press. Retract your shoulder blades and engage your core and glutes, then pull so your chest moves towards your hands, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body. Lower slowly and repeat. This will test your grip strength too. If your grip fails, take a moment to shake off any lactic acid. 

3A TRX high plank knee tucks 

TRX knee tuck suspension training exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3-4 Time 30sec Rest 0sec

Kneel and position your feet behind you in the foot cradles around 30cm off the floor. From here, get into a high plank position with your weight on your hands. Ensure your hips are slightly above your shoulders and feet to engage the core muscles and avoid any lower back strain. Now tuck your knees towards your chest, squeezing your abs hard, then straighten your legs under control. 

3B TRX elbow plank

TRX plank suspension training exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 3-4 Time 30sec Rest 30sec

After the final knee tuck, drop to your elbows in a low plank position. Ensure your hips are just above your shoulders and feet, and your glutes are engaged, to protect your lower back. Hold this position, while breathing steadily throughout. 

More About Suspension Training

Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.