Strap In, Work Out: Suspension Training for Beginners

Bored with free weights, stability balls, and the other tone-and-tighten contraptions at your gym? Then you might be ready for suspension training, a tough new workout that's probably coming to a gym near you.

Suspension training involves using heavy-duty nylon webbing to strap yourself to a bar, then running through a series of exercises that use your body weight to build core strength.

It might be a simple concept, but apparently it's an extremely tough workout. In fact, it's so tough that some fitness experts think it should be left to hardcore athletes, such as Navy SEALs and professional athletes in the NHL and NFL. And because the only necessary gear are the straps, it is highly portable.

A few gyms already offer group classes, and experts predict that suspension training is poised to be a hot trend in 2007. Regulars compare the workout to yoga (seems a great deal of balance is required) and spin (seems a great deal of sweat is produced.) Theoretically, that sounds like an ideal combination for me. I love both yoga and spin. Unfortunately, I also love snacking more than doing sit-ups, and therefore might lack enough core strength to complete the exercises safely.

Because suspension training movements require super-strong core muscles to steady oneself, this workout is best-suited to people who are already very fit. In order to steady yourself, you need strong muscles in the abdomen and along the spine.

Already, several experts have noted that this workout could be unsuitable for the masses. The problem is that instability of suspension straps can pose dangers for people with joint or back injuries. Also, those of us without six-pack abs may risk injury because we lack the strength to do the exercises correctly.

Then again, proponents say that, with careful instruction and appropriate modifications, maybe suspension training could be right for a lot of us. I'll probably give it a try. If nothing else, it might make sit-ups seem like a lot more fun.

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