Is it a Rope Trainer, a Suspension Trainer or a USA? None of the Above

I want to share today’s workout routine with you, because it was a little weird and kind of fun, and still gave me a great back workout and more. You might even want to try this, but real quick, some back story.

Since I made my first suspension trainer out of rope,
(you can read about it here: http://mosladder.hubpages.com/hub/Adventures-with-Suspension-Training-in-My-Garage-Gym)  I have had something of an obsession with the stuff. The rope that is.

The tire swing/climbing rope

I made a jumprope suspension trainer, pull-up handles with pvc and rope, I even made a tire swing/climbing rope with yellow 1 inch polyester rope.  Braiding the rope became a therapeutic pastime.  Take a 100′ foot length of rope, cut it into three or four equal lengths and braid it together.

It would be used for something, I just wasn’t sure what.

Then I saw the Universal Strength Apparatus (About the USA)
which could be called ‘suspended ladder training,’ since that is what it is. Two narrow ladders with multiple rungs. The rungs/handles are stiff, the rest is not. The nice part is there is no adjustment necessary, and you can do crazy things like ‘jumping dips’ to the next rung.

Bingo! Why not tie some handles into my braided ropes and use them like the universal strength apparatus? Using two braided ropes with loop handles tied in every few inches, I could hang them side by side and get a ‘suspended ladder training’ style workout.

Before the second one was done I tried it with one. I used the yellow and black hanging in the picture below by throwing it over my pull-up bar.

Hmmm, it was a little awkward, but good for pushups, flyes, body rows and the like. Still not a USA, though.

With a second braided rope of equal size, I tried again:
This wasn’t working. Does the contraption above look strange and uncomfortable? Yeah, it was, in a bad way. So I thought about it some more. In the meantime, the thicker blue rope (with only two handles) made the perfect suspension trainer, and was comfortable enough to get a full workout on. Adjusting by looping the ends around the pull-up bar is easy.

                                           Still, what to do with all this yellow and black rope?

Ahaaaa!! Rowing! 

Functional exercises are great, and in this case, you can target your back muscles as well. Which brings me to today’s workout, which consisted of standing in place pulling the weighted rope towards me in a hand over hand motion. Let me just say this beats the hell out of rowing a barbell or dumbbells, and IMHO, is better than sitting in front of a machine with cables.
In the pics above, you will notice a green rope and some pvc pipe. The original plan was to loop the braided rope end through the plates and tie a large knot to pull against the plates. But I found this pipe and rope sitting around, and that was that. The only tying involved was green rope to braided rope. Done.

One plate was good for getting a rhthym, but far too light for a decent workout. So I threw another 45# on. Much better. I probably knocked out 10 back and forth laps before doing a few pull-ups and curls and calling it a day. My lats were definitely worked and my arms as well. There were other advantages to this fun outdoor workout too.

1.) Core involvement. The hand-over-hand motion requires core rotation plus hip and glute stabilization; and who doesn’t want a tighter core and gluteus?

2.) Progressive Resistance: Because I was dragging these plates through the gravel, the closer it got, the harder it became. Also, the more weight you add, the greater the drag because it picks up even more gravel. This works well in sand, too.

This exercise/workout will be part of my permanent rotation from now on. There are a myriad of ways to use this. Put the handles in front and push, or hang them from your shoulders and pull like a sled dog. Either way, this satisfies my need for unusual, interesting and effective workout equipment!

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To see the Universal Strength Apparatus for yourself:

Universal Strength Apparatus

For more great workout ideas:

Traveling Workout and Portable Gym and Exercise Equipment

Gymnastic Ring Workout Routines at Home

Every Pushup Exercise you can Think of and the Celebrities Who do them

How to Build Strong Back Muscles

A complete muscle-building program for free:

The Fast Muscle Program

Building Muscle like Captain America

Getting into Captain America shape made the actor want to puke. But this was a real transformation. How did he do it?

According to an interview on Pop Sugar, the actor underwent four months of “brutal” workouts for 2 hours every working day. When he wasn’t working out, he was consuming protein. As Chris Evans said, “You get to the point where you just can’t even look at another piece of chicken.”

Of course, Chris was on a tight schedule and the body transformation had to happen fast. While eating a lot of quality protein and working out hard are important for building muscle, given more time it does not have to be a miserable experience.

To pack on pounds of solid (meaning lean) muscle over several months, read these workouts and tips:

 Strong Back Muscles

Core Workouts

Muscle Building on the Road

Muscle Building with a Suspension Trainer

Big Arms Workouts

Best Lifts for Max Gains

If you don’t have the equipment you need, or think you don’t have what you need, pick up some dumbbells and other gym equipment here:

Olympic and Standard Barbells and Dumbbells

Home Gym Pullup Bars

Remember, all you need is simple equipment. By simple I mean if all you have is your bodyweight, you can do a lot with that. If all you have is some rope, you can do a lot with that, too. Read this for some great suggestions if you think you have nothing to work with:

Home Gym Workout Routines with No Equipment

Simple and Brutal Strength Building TRX Workout

Suspension training using tools like the TRX professional trainer are intense sessions, if you work hard at it. The awkward nature of feeling your body unsupported and having to stabilize itself while performing suspension exercises will wake up muscles you may never knew you had. Plus its fun. Think gymnastics with the intent to do bodily harm, in order to get stronger, bigger, faster,…add your own adjective. Here’s a simple workout to incorporate into your training program using the TRX suspension trainer:

Adjust the TRX so that it sits 8-12 inches off the ground, grab both handles and assume a push-up position, with a steady motion, your arms straight, let your hands out to the sides and lower your body towards the ground. Keep your body stiff as a board throughout the exercise.

These are suspension flyes: 3-5 x 6-12 (higher for muscular endurance, lower for strength and building muscle.)

Next, place your feet in the TRX using the stirrups on the handles, walk out to a push-up position, and perform the push-up pike by doing a push-up and alternately bringing both knees up to the middle, right and left as you come up. Try to get your knees to touch your body each time.

Suspended Push-up Pikes: 3 x 15-20. If you can do more, go for it. Or, add a weighted vest or a push-up clap for more difficulty.

Try these two exercises for a quick workout or as an add-on before or after a heavier workout, it’s a great way to increase balance, work on upper body strength, and stabilize the abdominals and obliques.

For more information on the TRX and what you can do with it, this is a must see:

For more reading on the TRX, visit my hubs at:

http://hubpages.com/hub/TRX-Functional-Training-That-Builds-Muscle-and-Increases-Performance

Adventures with Suspension Training in My Garage Gym

Designing My Own Cheap Version

I admit it, I’m not a big fan of gyms, commercial gyms specifically. It’s a personal preference. I like solitude when I workout or at least small groups. I also like to choose my own music (if any,)perform unusual and dangerous exercises, and let the dog hang out. Oh, and leave the air conditioning off, I’ll take hot and steamy, thanks. For those reasons and others I workout 90% of the time at my house, and usually in the garage. Besides the usual barbells and dumbbells, I suspended a pull-up bar from the ceiling, made some ‘clubs’ out of galvanized steel pipe, and a slosh stick out of pvc pipe filled with water. What I had always wanted to include was suspension training. The TRX, with its fancy yellow nylon webbing, it’s quick adjustments and glowing hard body models demonstrating new and interesting exercises, captured my imagination. Now don’t be silly, I wasn’t about to shell out $150+ dollars when I could attempt to make my own version of suspension training!
The solution was simple: I had suspended a capped iron bar from the ceiling using eye hooks screwed into the joists. This was my pull-up bar, and it was suspended by rope bought at Home Depot. Then I tied knots to the eye hooks, and tied those knots into knots, then on the other end I had to tie knots to the bar, and re-tie knots to get the measurements correct, until I was really sick of tying knots. My plan for the suspension trainer was the same, suspend rope from the eye hooks screwed into the ceiling. For handles, I had some 1 1/2″ pvc pipe I ran the rope through. Presto!
Of course, we’re back to tying knots, and retying, and with these sumbitches, because each rope hung from its own hook, I had to adjust a lot to get the height even. It was at this point I began dreaming about that shiny yellow nylon webbing. I imagined how easy it would be to anchor it to the ceiling. Maybe even easier now that I had already installed eye hooks! But no! I’m a man, I love my green rope and pve pipe substitute! So I kept adjusting until I was satisfied.

Flaws in the Design

I wouldn’t say there were flaws in the design, it just wasn’t the TRX. My invention wasn’t even gymnastics rings. Now it worked alright. I mean hell I only had one ugly knot-loosening incident. Fortunately I wasn’t hanging upside down when that happened. I could do all kinds of exercises including rows from several angles, inversions, and various push-ups and dips with the aid of a step-stool or ladder. However, not being able to quickly adjust the ropes made the tool much less versatile than even basic gymnastics rings. Let alone that commercial contraption with the pretty yellow nylon webbing.
I hung on to the dream a little longer. In place of the additional strap that hangs down like a stirrup from the TRX handles, I put my own little strap. So glad I kept that extra green rope! It hung from the PVC pipe handle just like a stirrup. Not right away, though. First I had to adjust it by tying, re-tying, you know the drill.
I was so proud of my genius that I invited one of my friends and trainees to try it. He was somewhat skeptical. He stared at the roughly chopped pipe handles, and his eyes traveled to the ceiling to study the attachment process. “Don’t worry, you’re not even going to be putting your full weight on it. Just stick your feet in here, no down more, whoops, look out, maybe you should let me help you…”

I was soon the only user of my suspension trainer. Although I still find it very useful, it hangs there looking like an outdated relic. I sense that it knows its fate. It stares out across the garage at the failed PVC pipe and green rope trapeze experiment, now laying in a pile in a dark and dusty corner.

I’m going to miss my various contraptions. After all, the TRX can be taken anywhere, and well, I’m sick of tying knots. The fact is, the weather in Arizona is beautiful. This is the best time of year to be outside here, for the sane people anyway. In a few short months the temperature will be topping 100, and I will scurry indoors to continue using my new workout tools. Shoot, look at the time. I have got to go! I found a concrete-filled parking post out in the middle of the desert that someone left behind. Now I know I can do something with that!

For more information, or to shop the TRX, read the post “Buy TRX Suspension Trainer Online,” or click on the link below:

http://www.fitnessanywhere.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=SFNT&Store_Code=buy-trx&AFFIL=y5tybUv8

   Don’t forget the padding.