Few pieces of equipment are as valuable to the mountain biker as a suspension trainer. I’ll admit that when they first came out I was a bit skeptical and thought they were more of a gimmick, like standing on a BOSU Ball, than actually filling a genuine need.
However, since getting my hands a couple not a day goes by in my facility that they are not being used.
“Suspension trainer” is the term coined for long nylon straps with handles that you can hang from a chin up bar, a door jam or even a tree. While there are a lot of suspension trainers on the market, the one I use and recommend is the TRX since it is a higher quality version and easier to adjust. Whichever one you choose to use the basic idea is the same – by suspending your upper or lower body in the straps you can create some very challenging variations of common exercises.
I really like suspension trainers for a few reasons:
1) They allow you to take bodyweight training to a higher level. As a mountain biker one of the most important things you can pick up from strength training is body awareness and control. These qualities are best trained through bodyweight exercises, which is why you will find a heavy dose of bodyweight training in all of my programs. A suspension trainer allows allows you to take your bodyweight training to a higher level by increasing the difficulty of normal bodyweight exercise and allowing you to do new exercises as well.
Using a suspension trainer allows you to take exercise that you have grown strong on and add a degree of instability, which increases the core and body control demands of staple bodyweight exercises like Push Ups and Planks. They also allow you to add new bodyweight exercises like Inverted Rows, Prone Jack Knifes and Balance Lunges, allowing you to target even more movement patterns in unique ways. If you are serious about bodyweight training then using a suspension trainer is a must.
2) They are extremely portable. Perhaps my favorite aspect for the mountain bike on the go is the ability to throw a single, lightweight piece of equipment in your bag which gives you access to dozens of high quality exercises. Maintaining your strength levels while traveling is important in making sure that you stay strong and injury free. Without a consistent strength training program you can not do this.
A suspension trainer makes it far easier to be consistent with your training since you can design an entire workout around it. This means that you are not dependent on what equipment you can find where you are staying and don’t have to piece together a workout everywhere you go. Finding ways around excuses is a hallmark of great riders and this is an easy way to get around the excuse of not being able to train during the season.
3) They are fun to use and keep you focused. Perhaps the best part is that they are far removed from the mindless exercises that so many riders are used to. Even something as “easy” as a push up becomes a new adventure as you try to keep yourself from swinging around. If you break concentration for even a second the suspension trainer will smack you back into reality quickly and effectively – you literally can not complete the exercise without staying tight and focused. This not only keeps you engaged while training but it also works on the focus and mindset you need on the trail as well.
While I obviously think a lot of suspension trainers I do have to offer a word of caution. The temptation when starting out with them is to learn and try as many different exercises as you can. This is a big mistake and you should choose a few exercises to start out with in order to master some of the basics first. There are very advanced exercises that look cool but don’t do much for you unless you have the basic core strength and body control developed with more basic exercises.
Here are 4 of the exercises that I use with new riders to teach them those basics.
– Assisted Single Leg Squat
– Push Up
– Single Arm Inverted Row
– Lateral Fallout
Once you’ve got those exercises down you can start exploring some of the other great exercise options and seeing which ones work well for you. Hope fully this article and video have sparked your curiosity enough to check one out and see what they can add to your training program and results on the trail.
As you can see, suspension training is one of those popular fitness trends that can actually live up to the hype if you use them properly. This has led it to become a very popular training tool and I have been getting a lot of requests from riders for a workout from MTB Strength Training Systems featuring a suspension trainer, namely the TRX. Since I use the TRX in both my own training and in the programs I write for the riders I train I decided to use that experience to create a new workout series, the MTB TRX Conditioning Workouts.
These new all-TRX workouts will have a manual with training logs, video demos of each workout and will also feature a cool new workout system that allows you to customize the program to your fitness levels. You can choose between regular sets and reps to build strength or interval sets to improve your cardio plus I show you a basic and advanced version of each exercise – it is like having 8 workouts in one.
Best of all, this new workout series will only be $7 each – that’s right, only $7 for 2 new customizable TRX workouts designed for the unique demands of mountain biking, including video demos and training logs. You can get your copy of this new MTB TRX Conditioning Workout #1 for only $7 by clicking on the link below…but don’t wait. It will only be available this week and then it will only be available on my Personal Coaching Members website.