6 Reasons To Add Suspension Calisthenics For Minimalist Strength

bodyweight training calisthenics matt schifferle Jun 10, 2024

-written by Coach Matt Schifferle

Suspension calisthenics is a simple and ultra-efficient training method. Some of the most obvious advantages include convenience and portability, but few understand the lesser-known advantages it brings to the table.

Here is a list of some of the most profound benefits of Suspension Calisthenics.


1. A Wider Range of Resistance for Bodyweight Training


Suspension calisthenics is a great tool for filling in the gaps within classic bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups. I love using suspension straps to train people who are just starting or may be coming off an injury. They bring refreshing flexibility to work around limitations that make conventional bodyweight training prohibitive.

I’ll also use them to help long-time exercise enthusiasts reach strength levels beyond what they’ve achieved with classic bodyweight techniques. 

A simple set of suspension straps can transform your menu of training options from a few choice offerings to a plethora of exercises and variations, all within reach of your current capabilities.


2. Access to Accessory Exercises via Bodyweight Training


Effective strength training focuses on fundamental movements like pushing, pulling, and squatting. Basic calisthenics training is fantastic for doing just that, but sometimes it’s fun, and even necessary, to branch out into some accessory work like biceps curls or hip abductions.

Suspension straps give you access to such accessory exercises without a gym membership or fancy weight machines. It even allows you to practice such exercises and consider them bodyweight training. Now, you can get that sweet pump in your biceps or create stronger hips for kicking with a device you can carry in a backpack!


3. A Portable Home Gym


Portability and personal freedom go hand-in-hand, making suspension calisthenics ideal for working out on your terms. Plus, getting in a quick workout while on the road can be just the thing to keep the mind and body healthy on lengthy business trips.

Some suspension setups are more portable than others. For example, I only consider gymnastics rings semi-portable due to the size and weight of a basic pair of rings. They are portable, but I usually prefer a basic rope-and-handle setup if I’m traveling light which can easily fit in a coat pocket.

I prefer suspension straps to semi-portable options like compact adjustable dumbbells or exercise bands. Suspension equipment tends to be much easier to pack away than a set of hand weights, plus you’re still lifting actual weight (your bodyweight) for resistance instead of stretching a rubber band. Bands are a great option, but they rarely offer the level of resistance advanced bodyweight training can provide; plus, you don’t have that aggressive resistance curve that comes with using bands. It’s the best of both worlds!


4. A Personalized Weight Machine


Before I learned about suspension straps, I used to be obsessed with weight machine design. I once drove four hours to a shop in Boston to test out a new cable machine. After using it for twenty minutes, I then drove four hours back home. However, it was worth it to get a feel for the equipment.

My obsession faded a bit when I started using suspension straps, largely because I could set them up any way I wanted. Unlike many weight machines that lock you into a supposedly optimal position, you can move freely and place your hands and feet in the best position to work your muscles.


5. An Affordable Alternative To A Home Gym or Gym Membership


I once sold a gentleman a pair of 45# weight plates he was adding to his large home gym set up. When I finished ringing up his order, I couldn’t help but notice that his two weight plates cost more than both of my home gyms combined.

Yes, I had two gyms, one in my basement and one outdoors, for when the weather was nice. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with setting up some free weights for a home gym. However, if you’re starting, you can gain a lot of value from a simple set of straps which will likely cost less than a few mismatched dumbbells.


6. Functional Strength


Functional strength is one of those buzzwords misunderstood within our fitness culture. In the early 2000s, the functional fitness craze hit, and suddenly, everyone was giving up heavy squats and pull-ups for stretch bands and Bosu Balls.

The functional fitness idea was born as a reaction to the previous trend to use a lot of fancy high-tech machines and stabilized free weight techniques. In the past, most strength exercises used bodyweight and ground-based free weights. Using such “archaic” methods forced the athlete to stabilize themselves against the forces of gravity. With their reclined benches and controlled motions, the new weight machines decreased the need for such full-body control.

When commercial gyms and strength training became more popular, many people didn’t have the athletic skills to use less supportive equipment safely or effectively. It was easier to just sit on a leg press machine and adjust a weight pin than learn how to do a front squat properly. Such machines seemed like a step forward for a while, but time showed that full-body stability was essential for applying your hard-earned strength toward performance on the field or in real life.

Thus, like many trends in fitness, the functional training craze recognized the need for correction but then proceeded to overcompensate with the need for stability and control.

Bringing back the need for full-body control was a good thing, but placing the body in a very unstable environment can compromise the ability to generate muscle tension. Just think of when you step out onto a patch of ice or try to walk to your seat on an airplane during turbulence. Your environment is so unstable that you become weaker as your nervous system inhibits the neural drive to your muscles to help keep you safe.

The most effective training methods require some total body control and stability, but not so much that it inhibits your ability to contract your muscles powerfully. The most classic and traditional forms of strength training, like basic calisthenics and ground-based free weight exercises, are great examples of achieving this perfect symmetry. Now, suspension Calisthenics is the new kid to the party.

Suspension workouts are hardly new, though, as people have used suspension calisthenics for as long as there has been strength training. Athletes have used hanging rings and ropes to achieve this perfect balance between control and strength. Modern-day suspension equipment expands on the discipline and gives you even more options to train every muscle in your body in many ways


To start building strength and muscle with Suspension Calisthenics, click here.


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