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Since early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has led many Americans to reconsider their wellness routines and invest in home gym fitness equipment to achieve their goals. Even with gyms reopened, data shows that many Americans prefer working out at home: Nine out of 10 Americans say they plan to keep working out in their home gym even after they feel fully comfortable returning to public spaces, according to a July 2020 survey of 1,000 adults across the U.S. from Beachbody, a California-based health and fitness company.
Select readers especially have tended toward exercise bikes and treadmills, as well as other, less gear-centric at-home workouts like yoga. Another method that has grown in popularity is suspension training. I've attended and taught thousands of fitness classes over the past 15 years, and have some tips about the finding the best suspension trainer for you, as well as some notable options to consider. Popular brands like TRX and other resistance and suspension training systems provide a unique and flexible workout that challenges your strength against gravity or, like resistance bands, against itself. The instability that these systems create gives your body something to work against that is relatively personalized in contrast to traditional workout equipment.
Suspension trainers to shop in 2021
When you hook the resistance bands to a door or wall — or, in some cases, to a bar or standing platform — you’ll be utilizing your body weight and gravity to burn fat, build muscle and tone the entire body. All of these exercises heavily rely on core engagement to help you with balance. They also hone and improve your coordination, joint stability and flexibility. Joey Thurman, a certified personal trainer and celebrity host of the “Fad Or Future” podcast, agreed that suspension devices are extremely useful for improving overall body strength. “You can really get your posterior chain (backside), which is often lacking with most people,” he explained. Your back, hamstrings, glutes and trunk can be targeted, too.
Below are some suspension trainers I think are worth considering and a few recommendations from fitness experts I've worked with.
The most popular of these workout systems is the iconic TRX, which stands for “total resistance exercise.” You may have seen the bright yellow straps at the gym or even around your neighborhood. The TRX is, at its core, essential suspension training. You attach the straps to hooks on the wall or door and let gravity become your incentive. Adjusting the level of difficulty is easy: Simply move your feet or your hands a few inches away or toward the point where the TRX is grounded.
Suspended push-ups, single leg squats and even bicep curls challenge your balance and stability. The brand offers an app full of personalized exercise and fitness expert curations, and the system’s proprietary GO design allows you to set up the TRX anywhere, from a door in your house to a tree in the park. The highly rated TRX GO has garnered a 4.8-star average rating from more than 6,000 reviewers on Amazon.
This bow-inspired system includes a band-equipped bar for upper body exercises. You can use the bar in a variety of positions — standing, lying on your stomach or sitting. If you’re looking for a way to amp up your arm and back workouts, this home gym could be a good option. It comes with the bow and four different resistance bands for different levels, and the brand promises it can help you recreate anything from yoga to pilates routines. Almost 465 reviewers on Amazon left it with a 4.5-star average rating.
Another highly-rated option, the Gorilla Bow Portable Home Gym, features a bow that combines a weightlifting bar and resistance bands to work so you can get a full body workout at time. Unlike the NYPOT Bow’s 400-pound-limit, the Gorilla Bow maxes out at 300 pounds. The Gorilla Bow comes in nine colors including, Black, Green and Pink. More than a thousand reviewers on Amazon gave it a 4.3-star average rating.
Adding a companion piece of equipment to the suspension training game might be a strong selling point for anyone looking to get more variations on the suspension itself. I love that this training system includes a base you can stand on and connect bands to in order to mimic exercises you’d do at the gym with equipment, like deadlifts or weighted squats with a barbell. The BodyBoss leaves me feeling like I’ve created my own gym area in the house since the stand serves as a workout mat that sections off my workout area. BodyBoss boasts a 4.3-star average rating from more than 4,700 reviewers on Amazon.
Thurman tells his clients to invest in an inexpensive set of bands for at-home workouts. Unlike regular resistance bands, this 11-piece set has removable handles to make gripping a band more comfortable and flexible. Made from natural latex, the set comes with five resistance options from 10 pounds to 50 pounds, and they can be used together for a combined maximum resistance of up to 150 pounds. You also get two cushioned handles, two ankle straps, a door anchor and a carrying bag. More than 24,700 reviewers left the straps with a 4.6-star average rating.
One of the more affordable options on this list, GoFit’s highly rated resistance training system comes with three resistance bands (sporting seven levels of resistance when combined with resistance options of 20 pounds, 30 pounds and 40 pounds), attachable handles, a door anchor and two ankle straps. More than 430 reviewers on Amazon left the GoFit with a 4.5-star average rating.
Equitable in price to the GoFit gym set, this system by FITINDEX can work with a tree or a beam like the TRX, though the door anchor is sold separately. The adjustable bands are made from high-quality nylon and the handles are non-slip. With over 300 reviews on Amazon, the straps have a 4.7-star average rating.
A recent addition to the suspension training universe, the Hyfit Gear 1 offers a smart, tech-based approach to a resistance band workout. According to Hyfit, Gear 1 is the first-ever smart strength-training resistance band, relying on AI to create a personalized gym. Similar to the TRX, Hyfit promises you only need 6 square feet to set up your workout station. The Hyfit app gives you access to trainers and stats on your progress. A sensor on each band connects to your smartphone or Bluetooth device to track that data. I was shocked at how fast and simple setting up this system was — I relied on a sliding door in my small apartment as the anchor to start and performed a bunch of upper back, chest and arm exercises using both bands
TRX, known for its suspension training systems, recently launched the TRX Bandit, a set of removable handles that snap on to any resistance bands. Portable and compact, the Bandit is designed for you to throw in your gym bag or tuck away in a closet for at-home use. The Bandit also comes in a kit, which includes four TRX Strength Bands.
More robust than the TRX GO Suspension Training System, the TRX PRO4 Suspension Trainer is the strongest and most durable option TRX offers, according to the brand. In addition to integrated rubber handles, adjustable foot cradles, a locking theft-resistant carabiner and a travel bag, this system also comes with a 12-month subscription to the TRX Training Club Fitness App. The kit includes three different suspension anchors so you can work out virtually anywhere.