But one of the reasons that I love them, (besides the fact that they are a versatile, mobile, full body tool that you can use for fat loss, body-building, or functional training (or all of the above if you’re training smart)), is that you’re forced to use your core on every move.
Training back? Still core involved. Doing a chest isolation move? MEGA-core. Ground based leg exercises? Yep.
Being that even a biceps curl uses the core to some degree when trained on a suspension trainer, it makes sense that doing dedicated core exercises on the ST would be some of the best and most effective exercises you can do to get thick, strong abs.
Because using the ST leaves you suspended in some way, you have to use your whole body to make up for the lack of support. That’s why a ST row will always involve more abdominals and burn more calories than a machine row.
I’m not just talking about your six pack either. Those are technically called your “rectus abdominus” and make up only a small part of your CORE.
While the concept of a “core” can be confusing and different depending who you ask, I define it as all the muscles that stabilize the torso, starting below the shoulders and ending at the glutes and pelvic floor (this is the fancy way of talking about the muscles you squeeze when you’re trying to stop peeing).
These muscles work in conjunction to stabilize your spine and keep you stiff when under load, either at the gym, holding a baby, or loading packages into your truck.
Dr. Stuart McGill, the worlds leading spinal researcher and strength guru coined the term “super stiffness” when talking about core tension. He rates it as one of the key components to having a strong and healthy low back for life.
A great way of developing this is by using a tool like the Suspension Trainer to teach yourself what it feels like to hold this position, then advancing the exercises to challenge yourself and build real strength.
“Ok, I believe you, but tbh this is kinda boring…..what are the exercises?”
3 Suspension Trainer Exercises to Build a Impressive Core
Suspension Trainer Fallout
This exercise is great for the anterior core (your six pack), the lats, and your triceps. This basically means that if you get really good at these, you’ll have a great looking V-Taper Physique, and and a bulletproof low back. I demo these in a high position, but you can step your feet back until these are harder than ab wheel roll outs.
Still too easy? Do one arm at a time for a massive dose of obliques as well.
- Try to hold your body in a Hollow Body position. This is the foundation from which all gymnastics moves come, and in case you missed the Olympics this year, not only do gymnasts have redic abs, they also have amazing body control.
- Fall forward slowly and under control. Make sure the stress of the exercise is on the muscles, and not on the shoulder joints.
- Step the feet back to make it harder. Forward to make it easier.
- Pause for a full second at the bottom position. Not only will this challenge the core more, you’ll also have a cleaner rep, and it will help fight the urge to do more than you ‘re ready for.
Suspension Trainer Hamstring Curl
Woah, bait and switch core exercise for a leg move?
Hold up though – remember that I said the core is make of the muscles from the glutes to the shoulders? Well, here’s a great way of training the posterior chain (the whole backside of the body) which will give you some grab-able glutes, a strong low back, and an impressive transverse abdominus. That’s the deep core muscle that wraps around your midsection like a girdle to keep you safe when lifting, twisting, and twerking.
As a bonus, this exercise will keep your knees super healthy. You’ll thank me later.
- Put the ST straps high on your shoe, this will keep your feet from sliding out of the straps.
- Keep your hips off the ground through the whole exercise, but don’t arch your back. This is a good place to start if these look impossible.
- As you pull your heels to your butt, press the hips into the ceiling. The goal here is to stay solid and locked from your knees to your shoulders, so don’t let your hips sag.
- If this is too hard right off the bat, pull your heels to your butt, then press the hips up. Make each move deliberate, and avoid swinging.
- Do these for sets of 5-15
Suspension Trainer Body Saw to Pike
This is the granddaddy exercise for getting super strong and developing that six pack you want.
The body saw part doesn’t look like much, but don’t be fooled, this is INTENSE. Lock into that hollow body position early and hold tension as hard as you can.
By following up an hardcore isometric with a “crunch” style move, you’ll get the benefits of both, and trust me, you wont need to do very many reps to feel this one.
- Hold the hollow body as you push back with just the shoulders.
- Go back super slowly, making sure you can maintain tension. You’ll know you’ve gone farther than you should if you feel your low back move, and start to feel the stress as the base of your spine, rather than in the top of your abs.
- As you pull back in, make sure that you combine the pull in from the shoulders with the lifting up of the hips. Think about the butt getting pulled to the ceiling.
- You can make this more or less intense by holding the peak contractions. The two spots you should pause at are: the furthest point on your body saw, and the highest point on your pike.
- Do sets of 5-15
You can combine these 3 exercises into a quick 10 minute workout, or use them as a core circuit at the end of an upper body workout.
- ST Fallout: 4 sets of 15
- ST Hamstring Curl 4 sets of 10
- ST Body Saw to Pike 4 sets of 8
If you don’t have a Suspension Trainer, you can order a high quality one HERE for a fraction of the price that competitors are charging.
While there are an unlimited number of potential exercises that you can do on a Suspension Trainer, these are 3 of my faves. Don’t worry though, I’ll keep them coming.