Strap It Up With Strap Work

Here is a program using the suspension trainer with a few moves targeting all the muscles in the body. While there are so many other exercises to do with the suspension trainer. This is a great beginning.
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I love strap work. Not only is it portable, but it requires you to stabilize your body and joints while suspended in space. What this means is you cannot rely on the simplicity of a machine to push your body through a set range of motion. While this appears advanced in nature, it is excellent for people of all levels. The difficulty of each exercise is enhanced when one steps closer to the anchor point which puts the body (in most strap exercises) in a position against heavier gravitational pull. Strap work is very popular in the military and is used as a way to throw in some challenging body weight movements to keep the cadets strong for combat.

There are different suspension systems out there such as SBT and TRX. They are available online. They hook up to an anchor point in your ceiling or upper wall, to another anchor such as a piece of sturdy equipment, or to a door. Either way, suspension training can challenge your body's ability to move in all planes of motion and gets your entire core fascia involved in each exercise. If you are dealing with an injury, please consult your doctor to ensure that this workout is something you are cleared to do.

According to Dr. Slava Shut, director of Back2health Physical Therapy, "Suspension training is great for individuals who are looking to train multiple joints in one move while strengthening their core from head to toe. This type of training enhances athletic training for sports, as well as fitness enthusiast who want to optimize the strength of their deep stabilizer muscles."

Here is a program using the suspension trainer with a few moves targeting all the muscles in the body. While there are so many other exercises to do with the suspension trainer. This is a great beginning.

Perform these five exercises for 12 repetitions each. Super-set the exercises so that you keep your body moving and your heart rate up. Repeat this circuit between 2-4 sets.

Low Row:
Starting back with your feet hip distanced apart and your palms facing towards each other, add tension on the straps by pulling the handles energetically towards you. Start with your arms extended. Relax your shoulders. Pull your shoulder blades together and then bend your elbows to your side body bringing your elbows towards the back wall and getting the full squeeze in your middle back or rhomboids and lower trapezius muscles. Allow the tempo to be 2 counts back and 4 counts on the return. If you look at the posterior view, you will notice how my shoulders squeeze inward to hit those target muscles. Inhale as you extend your arms out in front of you and exhale as you pull the arms into you.

Grab the handles and turn away from the wall. Add tension on the straps while widening your stance to hip distanced apart. If you feel more advanced, simply lift one foot off the ground to add instability to the exercise. Slowly descend by bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle to lower your chest in alignment with your wrists. Do not go too far down with your chest in the push up as it places undue stress on your shoulders. The tempo should be 4 counts down and 2 counts up as you press back to starting position. Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up.

High Row:
Similar to a low row, start in the same position except your palms will be facing down to the ground this time. This exercises targets the back of the shoulders and upper back muscles. Focus on keeping your shoulders depressed or away from your ears as you pull your arms back. Your elbows should be in one plane of motion as your hands so be careful not to drop your hands lower than your elbows otherwise that creates the wrong angle in your shoulders. Squeeze your scapula together in the back to generate the benefits to your posture muscles. Inhale as you bring your arms forward, exhale as you bring your arms back.

Biceps Curls:
Start with your feet out in front of you with your arms in alignment with your chest, palms up, as if you are serving a platter. Fire up your core muscles to remain upright and erect in your spinal muscles. Pull your abdomen in so that you create a neutral position in your lower back. Moving from your elbows only, pull your hands in towards your ears. With this exercise, many people move through their shoulders too. Avoid doing that by keeping your shoulders down and your elbows no higher than your chest height the whole set. To make this exercise more challenging, simply step your feet closer to the wall. You can also stand on a single leg to create instability. Inhale your breath as you extend your arms outward, exhale as you pull them in close to your face.

Total Body Pullups:
This exercise is a total body movement. Starting with your hands down by your sides with tension on the straps, palms facing backward, slowly descend your hips down to the ground. As you lower to the ground, your hands flip around to face inward towards each other as you extend your arms up above you and drop your butt to the ground. Once you tap your butt, drive through the heels as you row your way up to standing. Your ending position will be back to where you started and be sure to drive your shoulders down your back so that you can engage your lower trapezius and rhomboid muscles (the important muscles involved in optimal posture). Inhale as you lower to the ground and exhale as you drive up to a standing active position.

Location: Orangetheory Fitness Brentwood
Photography: Xochitl Rodrigue from