Bodyweight Exercise Pull Ups

How Suspension Training’s Biggest Problem Can Supercharge Your Workouts

Written by John Belkewitch

Suspension training is hot right now.

With the advent of tools such as TRX and the Jungle Gym XT, suspension-themed digital programs, group classes and personal training have trended sharply into the popular fitness frame of mind.

But suspension training is nothing new.

Just ask a gymnast. Or, head out to a playground and watch a group of kids horse around on the monkey bars.

Displaying bodily skill in suspension is like showing off a badge of strength and savvy. Not only is it a benchmark for general fitness, but it’s also a helluvalotta fun.

And for the body weight training enthusiast, especially, it provides you with an often-lacking component to your programming.

Pulling Is Your Missing Link

If you’ve been training equipment-free for some time, then odds are you’re not getting enough pulling action into your programming.

Working the backside of the body is evermore important in a culture that champions mirror-muscles and computer-driven work. The frontside of your body — anterior chain — typically gets preferential treatment, both in training and profession.

So, adding pulling exercises to your workouts will do a body good, helping to balance out an overworked anterior chain, improve posture and potentially abate some nagging aches and pains.

On top of adding pulling to the mix, suspension training will allow you to  perform assisted squatting, lunging and flexibility work, as well as add increased challenge to easier pushing exercises. And boy oh boy, can it ever upgrade your core training.

By adding suspension training to your tool box you’re opening up your workouts to a host of new possibilities… and fun.

But even though suspension training is technically a form of bodyweight training, it requires you to purchase — or find — a few tools to get the job done.

And this is where suspension training’s biggest problem arises.

I’ve Got Nowhere To Hang My Straps, Man!?!

Here at Shapeshifter Media, we have a number of outstanding bodyweight programs that involve suspension exercises, such as Bodyweight Burn and Bella Bodyweight, to name just a few. So it’s not unusual to check my inbox and find a message like the following…

“I truly enjoyed most of the program… but am a little stranded with some of the suspension exercises because I had a hard time finding somewhere to hang my straps. Any suggestions?”

In all honesty, while pulling is a much needed component to a balanced fitness program, it’s also an often-missing component for a good reason.

Accessibility.

Outside of being a small financial investment, engaging in suspension training also requires a bit of resourcefulness and creativity to get the most out of the potential it provides.

You’ll need to expand your training horizons a bit to find a place to hang those straps, but the dividends paid will be well worth your trouble.

You see, by solving the problem of ‘where do I hang my straps’, you’re opening a door that leads to supercharging your workouts with more fun, effectiveness and sustainability.

How To Turn Hanging Problems Into Hanging Power

I’ve used a number of different suspension training tools over the years. Both in my own training and with my clients.

And whether it was TRX, Jungle Gym XT, Gymnastic Rings, or a home-made remedy, each tool brought with it new challenges in the hanging game.

But the solution also allowed me to experience exercises and workouts I may have otherwise never entertained. And the result was a shot of adrenaline to my own workouts and that of my clients.

Below are four suggestions on where to hang your straps and how they can supercharge your own workouts.

1. Install a pull up bar.

Some suspension gear allows you to hang it via door attachment. While a welcomed option, the angle at which you’re forced to work cuts out a good deal of training options.

By installing a pull up bar (in a doorway for example), you’re not only increasing the angles at which you can exercise, but you’re also increasing the number of exercises you can train.

And that added variety can be a breath of fresh air to stale workouts. Just the thing you need to keep you on track for your health and fitness goals.

Struggling with pull ups?

Don’t have enough strength for dips?

By hanging your adjustable suspension gear from a pull up bar, you now have a viable option for training assisted pull up and dip variations. You can not only slide them into your workouts, but can progressively build up to unassisted work in the process.

Yes, the pull up bar becomes a permanent fixture (do NOT, hang your gear from a portable pull up bar!). But, it gives you a secondary place to hang your gear (in addition to the door attachment), and you can use the bar itself to expand your exercise resume.

2. Find a good branch. 

trx exercises

As much as I welcomed the variety that hanging my straps from a pull up bar afforded me, it got me hungry for more.

When working from a door frame your overall training space is limited. You’re limited in a forward-backward fashion, and even more so laterally.  And there’s a whole bag of awesomeness that’s to be had by working outside of those limits — just ask anyone who’s tried out the suspension flow in our TRX7 Cardio Stack program.

Hanging your suspension gear from a solid branch allows you to go wild in your training.  Literally. It not only opens up the range of exercises you can perform but it gets you outdoors.

And this, more than any other benefit, may be the most powerful.

Sun, dirt and fresh air can not only enhance the effectiveness of your workout by infusing it with a high dose of natural energy, but exposure to the elements is imperative to your overall state of health.

Your genes crave it.

3. Use the fence.

At first glance, using a fence to hang your straps may seem to limit you in the same way that using a door attachment can.

However, a deeper inspection will reveal a canvas rich with options and variety.

Firstly, a fence is rather easy to locate. You can find at just about any school yard, park or baseball field… maybe even in your own backyard. And the taller and wider the fence the better.

A fence can not only double as a wall for handstand and bounding work, but is one big attachment point structure. That means you can build quite the entertaining circuit by rotating body weight only, resistance band and suspension gear exercises.

A client favorite back in the days when I ran outdoor boot camps was a workout we called The Gauntlet. And it consisted of suspension and resistance band drills with the equipment secured to various spots (at differing distances and heights) along a winding chain link fence.

What you lose in pure overhead pulling pleasure, you gain several-fold in variety. You’re only limited by your imagination.

4. Kick a field goal.

Ok. Don’t literally kick a field goal. But, definitely use that goal post to score a kick-ass workout.

I’m a big fan of gymnastic ring training. And I recall the day when a tree branch just didn’t cut it anymore. I would ride around town (and outside of town) looking for a branch that was high enough and strong enough to support the movements I was progressing too with the rings. And, man, what a tough time I was having finding one.

Then one day I was doing some sprints at a local track and heard a loud ding. My attention quickly shifted to a few guys kicking field goals on the football field and a light bulb went off.

A goal post is now my favorite point of purchase for gymnastic ring training. The accessible height not only allows for more challenging suspension movements, but allows me to train my jumping as well.

AND, while the post is strong and sturdy enough to support my suspension work, it has just enough instability built in that it actually increases the challenge of the already unstable suspension gear — just another variable to supercharge your workouts as you’re progressing with your skills.

Don’t Shortchange Suspension Training’s Potential

Yes, finding a place to hang your suspension gear can be problematic. And yes, where you hang your gear can compromise a bit of what you can do with it.

Also, because some of your hanging solutions are outdoors, you may find that your training program changes with the seasons. And that’s ok — aligning your training with the natural rhythm of the seasons isn’t such a bad idea.

However, the box it forces you into also presents an opportunity for a creative eruption in your workouts. And you just might wind up having a renewed sense of vigor for training, and a ton of fun, in the process.

Have a favorite place to hang your suspension gear? Let us know by leaving a comment down below…

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John Belkewitch

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