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Ever since March, Covid-19 has led many Americans to reconsider their wellness routines, finding novel ways and existing home gym fitness equipment to achieve their goals. Even as gyms reopen, data shows that many Americans prefer working out at home: Nine out of 10 Americans plan to work out in their home gym even after they feel 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.
Shopping readers especially have tended toward exercise bikes and treadmills, as well as other and less gear-centric at-home fitness like yoga. Another method that has grown in popularity is suspension training. Notable 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.
Best suspension trainers in 2021
When you hook the resistance bands to a door or wall — or like in some of the systems below 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, therefore, to help you with balance. But 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, agrees that suspension devices are extremely useful to 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. “Let’s avoid the ‘backademic’ and get back to it,” Thurman encourages anyone who’s been working from home without a proper and ergonomic office chair and might be feeling the worse for it.
The most popular of these workout systems is, of course, 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. But have you ever considered bringing the TRX system into your home? The TRX is, at is 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 moving 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 to a tree in the park. The highly-rated TRX GO has garnered a 4.8-star average rating from more than 6,100 reviewers on Amazon.
This bow-inspired system includes a band-equipped bar for upper body exercises. I really like how 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 would be great for you. 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 180 reviewers on Amazon left it a 4.4-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 that mimics 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 because the stand serves as a workout mat that sections off my workout area. BodyBoss boasts a 4.3-star average rating from more than 4,100 reviewers on Amazon.
Thurman also recommends an inexpensive set of bands for his clients. Unlike regular resistance bands, these have removable handles to make gripping a band more comfortable and flexible. Made from natural latex, the bands come with five options, each sporting a different resistance level, from 10 pounds to 50 pounds. You also get two cushioned handles, two ankle straps and a carrying bag. More than 8,000 reviewers left the straps 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 and bringing resistance options of 20 pounds, 30 pounds and 40 pounds), attachable handles, a door anchor and two ankle straps. More than 550 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, but the door anchor is sold separately. The adjustable bands are made from high-quality nylon and the handles are non-slip. With over 100 reviews on Amazon, the straps have a 4.8-star average rating.
7. Hyfit Gear 1
A recent addition to the suspension training universe 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. Similarly to the TRX, Hyfit promises you only need 6 square feet to set up your workout station. The Hyfit app gives you access to workout 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 — and then I tried using the single band. Hyfit’s approximately 100 reviewers left the Gear 1 a 4.9-star average rating.