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Muscle Building Suspension Trainer Routines

Updated on December 1, 2012

Whole Body Suspended Muscle Building

Building muscle has significant health benefits for everyone, and it is not as complicated a process as it is sometimes made out to be. Any method of exercise which forces the muscles to adapt to ever greater forces, volume or intensity can produce bigger and stronger muscles, including bodyweight and as this article demonstrates, suspension training.

What are Suspension Trainers?

Suspension trainers are a simple piece of equipment consisting of adjustable nylon straps, cushioned handles and foot cradles. They can be taken anywhere and provide a challenging workout. Sometimes too challenging.

If you have never used one before, even as a seasoned lifter (but especially if you are out-of shape) start out slow. One of the best designs on the market right now is the Jungle Gym XT. Each strap is attached separately, allowing you to do exercises a gymnast would perform on rings.

Suspension Training Builds Muscles

To trigger the biggest muscle response, these workouts will incorporate as many muscle groups as possible. Increase the angle or add a weighted backpack or vest to do heavier lifts. Push the muscles to failure on each set, but in perfect form.

Start out with a thorough warm-up, then do the following whole body routine. Make sure your muscles are recovered (48-72 hours on average,) before repeating it.

Assisted pistol on suspension trainer
Assisted pistol on suspension trainer | Source

The Workout

  • 45 degree leaning squat jumps. Extend arms overhead and lean forward into as steep an angle as possible. Drop into a squat while maintaining this angle and spring forward. Do 8-12 reps or do as many repetitions as possible in 30 seconds. Adjust these guidelines to make it difficult enough to cause the quadriceps muscles to fail. Don't rest, immediately follow with:
  • Assisted Pistols: You are going walk the straps back until your arms are extended and there is tension in the straps. With one leg in front of you, squat down on the opposite leg. Contract the abdominal muscles hard as you lower your body. Keep the shin on the working leg vertical, not letting the knee roll forward.

Go just below parallel for maximum effect, and use the straps as little as possible on the way up. Do 8-12 reps, assist as needed to get this many, or use less assistance to push the leg to failure. Repeat on the other side.

Do 2-3 sets of these two exercises minimum, depending on your fitness level. Rest for 1-2 minutes and immediately do the following:

45 degree pushup
45 degree pushup | Source

Push-up Complex:

  • 45 degree pushup: This is basically a leaning pushup and should be a bit too easy at first. Time this exercise for 30 seconds of non-stop steady work, then...
  • Flat Pushup (or as flat as you are able to do for a few reps.) Lower the straps to do flat pushups and aim for 8-12 repetitions.
  • Feet Suspended Pushups: Put the tops of your feet in the straps and with feet suspended, put your hands on the ground and do more flat pushups. Keep the core tight to avoid injury. Time this for 30 seconds or to failure.

Repeat the above sequence without resting between exercises, and feel free to add different variations on the same idea. Do 2-3 sets minimum, and then finish with:

Assisted pullups on Jungle Gym XT
Assisted pullups on Jungle Gym XT | Source
  • Assisted Pull-up: Adjust the Jungle Gym XT straps high enough so that when you pull from a squat position, your hands are at shoulder level upon standing up. Sit into a squat and pull yourself up. Repeat for 12-15 repetitions or a timed set of 30 seconds. If you can do regular pull ups, do these instead for 8-12 repetitions, but start with an easy set of assisted pullups to prepare the muscles.
  • Horizontal Row: (or as close to horizontal as you can do ) Keep the body straight as a board, legs extended and resting on heels. Arms should be able to fully extend without back hitting the floor. As you pull your body up to the straps, contract lats and squeeze shoulder blades together. Aim for 8-12 repetitions, or failure.

Performing the leg curl
Performing the leg curl | Source
  • Inverted Hyperextensions: Adjust the straps high enough that your head won't hit the floor if you hang from them. Invert your body so you are hanging upside down and perfectly straight from head to toe. Bending at the waist and keeping the legs straight, lower the legs towards your head to a 90 degree angle, and back to the starting position. Aim for 12-15 repetitions.

Immediately follow with:

  • Leg curls: Lay on your back and put your feet in the cradles, so you are suspended by your heels. Your feet should be about 12 inches off the floor, and the legs extended. Raise your hips so the torso is aligned with the legs. Curl the heels toward your butt, squeezing the hamstrings as you do. Try to hit 15-20 repetitions, or time your set for 30 seconds.

Do 2-3 sets of these two exercises (depending on your fitness level,) rest 1-2 minutes and jump right into:

This is just one example of a whole body suspension training workout that is adjustable for the individual. Suspension training allows you to continue to challenge your body through harder angles and increased tension, all while enjoying your workout wherever you like.

Finish off your workout with some Jungle Gym XT supported stretching for 5-10 minutes. On a different day, you can add in additional isolation work to concentrate more on biceps, triceps or abdominals. Just remember that all of these muscles are getting a lot of work from the workout above, so don't overdo it. Rest plenty and eat a proper diet and the results will start showing. Stay consistent and have fun!


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