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Muscle Building with Suspension Trainers-Back and Biceps

Updated on April 13, 2015
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A strong back and biceps are important for pulling power in sports and everyday life. Well developed back muscles help correct bad posture and counter the rounding of the back and neck that occurs from long hours of sitting.

Strong biceps are essential for any lifting involving bending at the elbow, and they also stabilize the rotator cuff muscles and thus, the shoulder.

With a suspension trainer, you can build up those back and bicep muscles using only a few simple exercises.

Start the following exercises after an easy warm-up.

Try to do the back exercises as a circuit, resting 30-60 seconds between. As a general rule, 2 circuits (of three exercises) for beginner, 3 for intermediate, and 4 and up for advanced.

Can’t do a pullup? Try these tips .

-Take the legs out of it. Pull from a seated position with your legs extended in front of you.

-Support yourself. If the straps are up high, use a ladder or chair to reduce your body weight. Make sure you can pull all the way to the finishing position without ’jumping.’

-Don’t do ‘jumping’ pull-ups. This exercise primarily works the eccentric (negative) portion of the pull. Instead, hang from the straps and do partial pulls as high as you can. Working the initial movement involved with the pull will get you into full reps faster.

-Strengthen the hang. Even if partial and full reps are out of reach, practice hanging with the shoulder engaged. This means to retract the scapula to the starting position instead of hanging in a relaxed position. Do multiple sets for 10-20 (30?) seconds right after your body rows.

Suspended body row.
Suspended body row.
Going horizontal on the body row.
Going horizontal on the body row. | Source
Great example of assisted pullup.
Great example of assisted pullup. | Source
Two handed biceps curls
Two handed biceps curls

Back and Biceps Workout

Body Rows: This is a versatile suspension training exercise which primarily targets the lats, but also affects the rear deltoids, teres major, trapezius, rhomboids and biceps.

To make it less difficult, stand up straighter; more difficult, lean farther back, all the way down to horizontal.

While you can increase the angle by putting your feet up higher than the head, the lat muscles work less with every degree highe that you go. Try putting your feet on a bench so the body is completely parallel (as opposed to feet on floor,) or do:

Pullups: A lot of people wonder if you can do pull-ups on a suspension trainer, especially the TRX because of the ‘V’ formation of the straps. The answer is a resounding yes.

Either shorten the straps and tuck your legs under you, or do them in an L-sit position. With a high enough anchor point, it will be just like using gymnastics rings or the Jungle Gym XT.

Do both of these exercises, starting with pull-ups and finishing with body rows. Do 2-4 sets of 8-12, or if body rows are too easy, time the set for maximum reps in 30-60 seconds.

The ‘Y:’ Start with the handles of your suspension straps in front of you, and your body at about 45 degrees to the ground.

The body should be as rigid as a beam, no sagging. Pull the arms back and up, making a ‘Y' at the top of the position. Lower to the starting point and repeat.

An excellent exercise for upper back and rear deltoids, and a great way to finish your back muscle workout.

For more resistance, move the angle of your body lower to the ground.

Biceps

Curls: Biceps curls on the TRX or Jungle Gym are a feel-good exercise.

The angle can be adjusted in a heartbeat to increase or decrease resistance, giving you a great pump. Always engage the core to keep the body rigid, and lean back to start the curl.

You will be curling towards the face, no matter what angle the body is at.

2-Hand Curls: 2-3 sets x 8-12 reps (or decrease resistance and keep going.)

1-Hand Curls: Instead of pulling towards the face, turn to the side and pull towards the ear. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12, or make it easier and keep going to burnout.

Keep up this routine for a few weeks, and not only will you build a wider, stronger back, but your biceps will start to bulge and your posture will improve dramatically. Have fun!


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