Take your fitness everywhere with suspension training


It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to fitness. Do you find yourself ever falling into the same patterns and basically sleepwalking through your workouts? This is when we need to get creative with our fitness routine, and trying something new can often be the solution. This lifts you not only physically, but mentally as well.

One popular method exercisers are turning to is suspension training. Suspension training is a form of body weight training that incorporates the use of suspension straps on a stable overhead anchor point. This allows the user to angle his or her body as is appropriate for that person’s strength level.

Suspension training’s popularity has surged mostly because of its versatility and economic appeal (prices range from $99 to $199). Suspension straps can be used both indoors and outdoors. Plus, with one suspension unit you can perform more than a hundred exercises, all while minimizing cost and maximizing space. This is why more gyms, personal training studios and home exercisers are using it.

So the next time you see suspension straps at your gym, try a few of these exercises — your body will thank you for it.

Suspended Lunge: Position one foot in the foot cradles while positioning your leg/body approximately 3 feet from the anchor point and balancing on the opposite leg. Slowly descend into a lunge by actively reaching back with your suspended leg while simultaneously bending your balancing leg until you reach a 90-degree bend at your knee. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides.

Note: If you have balance issues, modify by using a dowel rod for balance assistance. Also, this exercise can be replicated by holding the handles instead.

Hip Press: Position your heels in the foot cradles and lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Contract your abs and slowly lift your hips off the ground until you are fully extended. Pause for 2 seconds and slowly lower yourself back onto the mat. Repeat this move for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Body Saw: Position your feet deep into the foot cradles, toes first, while lying face down and resting on your forearms. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle with your hands clasped together. Engage your abs and slowly rise into a plank position. Using your arms, slowly rock your body back and forth as if you are sawing wood and maintain good alignment. Repeat this move for a total of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Note: As a prerequisite, you should be able to hold a plank position for 1 minute prior to trying this exercise. The Body Saw can also be performed from the knees as a modification.

Chest Press: Stand facing away from the suspension straps with your arms fully extended at chest level. Your body should be angled approximately 45 to 60 degrees relative to the floor, and your arms should be slightly shoulder-width apart. Maintaining alignment and control, contract your abs and slowly lower your body toward your hands until the handles are even with your chest and your arms bent at 90 degrees (just like a pushup). Press yourself back into the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Note: For more challenge, angle your body closer to the floor.

Row: Stand facing the anchor point with your arms fully extended at chest level. Your body should be angled approximately 45 to 60 degrees relative to the floor, and your arms should be shoulder-width apart. Maintaining alignment and control, contract your abs and slowly pull your body toward your hands until the handles are even with your chest and your arms bent at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Note: For more challenge angle your body closer to the floor.

Prepping for a Mud Run!

There has been a tremendous wave in popularity of outdoor obstacle course races over the last several years.

Races like The Dirty Dash, The Tough Mudder and Spartan Race bring much more challenge and variety than what you would find in traditional courses that involve only running. These races can also include climbing over walls, crawling through tubes, trudging through mud, swinging over bodies of water with gymnastic rings – pretty much anything and everything is fair game. This, of course, adds to the allure of the event.

But because of the variety, preparing for these events can be a challenge. Participants need to bring high levels of strength, power and endurance to finish successfully – particularly when you consider the majority of us are not professional athletes.

But the good news is you don’t have to be. With adequate training, preparation and time, anyone can get a taste of the glory – including you!

But the first obstacle to overcome is deciding to do it. Whether the race is three months away or a year, just go for it. Also, recruit your friends while you’re at it. Many of these events require teamwork, and having a few of your best partners in crime to train with will only add more enjoyment and consistency to your training.

So now that you’re all in, here is a weekly outline of how to get ready for the big event. This program is designed with the assumption that you have already built a foundation of strength and cardiovascular endurance. If you are just beginning with a fitness program, you should follow a general strength and conditioning program for at least 3 to 6 months before progressing. Also, we all have individual differences and levels of fitness, and the following training program may be modified in any way that better suits your needs.


We’ll begin our weekly workout here since this one will place the most demand and intensity on the muscles and should be done when we are fully recovered. Begin with a dynamic warmup 10-15 minutes in length. Then perform the following circuits for 3 sets each:

Power Circuit

• Squat Jumps x 10 reps

• Medicine Ball Slams* x 10 reps

• Split Jumps x 10 reps per leg

• Wall Ball* x 10 reps

* Use Medicine Ball that is 5-10 percent of your body weight.

Strength Circuit:

• Push-ups x 8-12 reps

• Dumbbell lunges x 8-12 reps per leg

• Pull-ups x 8-12 reps (Assisted/resisted if needed)

• Single Leg Deadlifts x 8-12 reps per leg

Refer to video link for details.


Since a good chunk of these events still involve running, it makes sense to include a day strictly for running. But I got news for you: The course isn’t going to be flat. Pick a hilly trail run of your choice and go at a steady pace. Distance should be based on whatever course you’ll be participating on. For example, the Tough Mudder is 10-12 miles. So begin your first week doing about a 5-6-mile run, then add one mile each week leading up to the event. You may start with shorter or longer distances depending on your current fitness level.


A hybrid workout is simply one that incorporates all the elements of fitness into one circuit, specifically exercises that will challenge strength, endurance, power and core. Because of the nature of an obstacle course race, this style of workout will most closely mimic the demands the body will need to be ready for and help condition you for anything that is brought your way. Perform each exercise for 1 minute with minimal rest in between. Recover 1-2 minutes after completing all eight exercises. Complete 3-5 sets total depending on your fitness level.

• Renegade Rows

• Quick Feet

• Lunge with Overhead Press

• Horizontal Jumps

• Single Leg Squats (30 seconds per leg)

• Mountain Climbers

• Rope Pulls

• Iceskaters

Refer to video link for details.


This day should be strictly for recovery. Any combination of restoration should be used. This may include foam rolling, massage, restorative yoga, flexibility or hydrotherapy, basically any method that personally gives you the best recovery.


This workout is similar to our first workout except you will be combining a distance run with a strength circuit used intermittently throughout. Begin by running at a steady pace, then perform a strength circuit at the end of each mile. You can utilize body weight exercises or take a portable training tool like a resistance band or TRX Trainer with you as you go. Preferably this should be done on a trail run, but this can also be used on a track as well. Below is a sample resistance band/body weight circuit. Perform 15-20 repetitions each. Repeat the sequence for 3-5 miles total.

• Resistance Band Squat Rows

• Pushups

• Resistance Band Rotations

• Alternating Lunges

• Resistance Band Presses

Refer to video link for details.


This will be the lightest workout of the week. Your goal is to train at a lower heart rate with minimal to no impact. Go for an easy bike ride or use the stair stepper or elliptical. Keep your heart rate around 50-60 percent of your maximum. Workout time should be 60-90 minutes total.


Here you have the option of simply taking the day off or using any of the active recovery methods mentioned on Thursday. The goal is to recharge and get ready to hit it again come Monday.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/06/15/3235580/obstacle-course-races-fun-require.html#storylink=cpy

Cool Fitness Tools to Keep Workouts Fun

Let’s face it. Staying motivated with the same exercise routine can get boring – fast. The human body and mind have a certain threshold when it comes to doing the same thing over and over again. And exercise is no exception.

The good news is you don’t have to limit yourself to the usual go-to of free weights or strength and cardio machines. The fitness industry is always creating training devices that are different and challenging and produce great training results.

I’m not talking about fad infomercial products like the shake weight or the ab belt. These are the same training tools used by fitness enthusiasts and even professional athletes. Specifically, a few that are “outside of the box” include SandRopes, SandBells and the TRX Rip Trainer. From a training standpoint they are great because of their versatility, and each one will help improve cardiovascular endurance, strength and power – and burn fat.


SandRopes, as the name implies, are neoprene battling ropes filled with sand.

Made by Hyperwear, SandRopes come in either a 15- or 30-pound option. SandRopes give you a few advantages over regular battling ropes.

First, they take up less space. Regular battling ropes range from 30 to 50 feet in length, while sandropes are only 10 feet. Second, they don’t require an anchor point like battling ropes do (though they can be anchored if preferred).

And last, because they are filled with sand, they will challenge grip strength much more.

SandRopes are used traditionally by implementing a whipping or circle motion with your arms, creating a “wave” in the rope. And with the shifting of the sand and dead-weight feel, it’s even more challenging to keep the wave going.

As a bonus, SandRopes are also great for resisted running drills as well. Overall, they are a great total-body training device that will tax your muscles and cardiovascular system.


• Basic wave

• Ultimate Warrior (Side-Facing Wave)

• Rope Drags

• Ax Chops


Also made by Hyperwear, SandBells are sand-filled neoprene disks that range from 2 to 50 pounds. SandBells create great workout diversity because they can simulate exercises used with dumbbells, medicine balls and kettlebells. And, of course, there is the increased challenge to grip strength, which you don’t experience with traditional free weights.

Also, because they are compact, SandBells can easily be used for workouts when traveling or if you have limited space.


• Rotational Slams

• Squat Toss

• Walking Plank/Row

• Swings


This is a resistance-cord system that creates an unbalanced load to help develop core strength, power and endurance. The cord can attach to one end of the resistance bar for high-variety asymmetrical and rotational exercises to challenge core strength. But you can also attach the cord to each end of the bar for more traditional strength exercises, giving you countless options. The Rip Trainer is very portable. All you need is a stable anchor point for the opposite end and you’re ready to press, pull, squat and rotate your way into a killer total-body workout.


• Squat to Overhead Press

• Slap Shot

• Rotational Punches

• Squat Row

Related Links:




Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/05/11/3179386/cool-toys-help-keep-exercise-sessions.html#storylink=cpy

Body Weight Strength Training



As the name implies, body weight strength training is a form of strength conditioning focused on building strength solely with the use of body weight exercises.  In terms of strength training we generally think along the lines of building absolute strength, which is the maximum force that an individual’s muscle can produce against an external resistance (i.e. dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.).  While this is an important component to building strength, it is only one piece of the puzzle.  Most sports and functional activities require higher levels of relative strength more than anything.  Specifically, relative strength is the maximum force that an individual can generate per unit of body weight.  This style of strength requires the exerciser to control their body weight against gravity as opposed to “lifting” an object. Think of sports like wrestling, rock climbing, hiking, running, biking, martial arts, and gymnastics.  All of these activities require high levels of relative strength. Being able to lift massive amounts of weight doesn’t carry over into the activity as effectively as the use of body weight exercises.   

Some examples of body weight exercises include:

·         Pushups

·         Pullups

·         Single Leg Squats

·         Pistol Squats

·         Floor Bridges

·         Back Extension

·         Rope Climb

·         Lunges

·         Planks

·         Pikes

·         Box Jumps

·         Split Jumps

Of course, experienced exercises will get to the point to where their muscles are no longer overloaded enough for continued results.  That’s where the use of fitness devices like weight vests, gymnastics rings, TRX suspension trainers, and balance boards come in.  Any of them are very effective increasing the “relative” load in a progressive manner as strength and endurance levels increase.  Other effective ways to add challenge is by simply slowing the tempo.  Performing pushups with a 3 second descend and 2 second pause at the bottom is an entirely different animal than simply banging out reps.  Don’t believe me?  Try it…I dare you!   The same approach can be used with other exercises like single leg squats, lunges, etc.  

So next time you’re ready to hit it hard with a strength workout, I challenge you to stay away from the weights and try a 5-6 exercise circuit with the sample exercises listed above.  Or even better…here is sample of one of my favorite Body Weight Strength Circuits.


3 Sets

Reps: 20-16-12 reps (Descending each set)

Rest: 30-60 sec between exercises/1-2 minutes between sets

1. Chinups

2. BOSU Up and Overs

3. Ring Flys

4. TRX Hamstring Curl to Hip Press

5. Single Arm Rope Pull

6. Stability Ball Prone Overhead Press

TRX – Single Leg Burpee Pushup Combo

What’s not to love about this exercise?  It comes with numerous benefits and brings a total body challenge to balance, strength, power, and endurance!  This exercise is great for plyometric training,  metabolic conditioning, and/or endurance training.

As a prerequisite you should be able to perform at least 15 suspended lunges with relative ease, do 10 pushups, and be able to hold a plank for a minimum of 1 minute.

Here’s the setup:

  • Convert the TRX into a single handle position
  • Position yourself approximately 3 feet from your overhead anchor point with your back facing the anchor point, placing one foot in the heel cuff.
  • Descend into a burpee and perform a pushup.
  • Quickly hop forward and explosively jump upwards reaching overhead with your arms.
  • Repeat for anywhere between 5-15 reps/side depending on your fitness levels, goals, etc.
  • Enjoy!

TRX Plank to Handstand

This is one of my favorite TRX exercises.  Primarily for it’s challenges to the core and upper body.  Before attempting this exercise there are obviously some things that you need to consider…

First is core stability.  As a prerequisite you should be able to hold a plank with your feet suspended in the TRX at an absolute minimum of one minute.  AND perform at least 10 suspended pushups with good form as well.

Second is safety.  Should seem pretty obvious…but gym guys like me can get bogged down in the guts n glory of it all.  Luckily I’ve wised up (a little) in my 30’s.  I recommend using a spotter for your legs.  If your lower body starts to drift off course even a little, you will immediately be switching to the TRX Helicopter spin…with a tuck exercise.  So use a spotter to keep your legs on track until you are comfortable flying solo.

Next…begin small with the exercise.  Start with 1- 2 paces in each direction for 5 reps.  Next week…shoot for 2-3 at 4 reps, then 3-4 at 3 reps the following week, etc.  Before you know it you’ll have no problem getting fully inverted and may even feel inclined (no pun intended) to add a push up in between steps.

That’s it.  Watch the video to hear the key points of the exercise and happy training!

Strength Endurance Training

One of my favorite strength training workouts that I use personally and with clients is Strength Endurance Training.  Specifically from NASM, this strength endurance training method is a hybrid form of superset training that promotes increased stabilization endurance, hypertrophy, and strength.  This method of training entails the use of superset techniques where a more stable exercise (ex. bench press) is immediately followed with a stabilization exercise with similar biomechanical motions (ex. TRX push-up).  Thus, for every set of an exercise/body part performed, there are actually two exercises/sets being performed.  High amounts of volume can be generated with this method which can result in body fat loss and/or hypertrophy. Training variables should be manipulated depending on which is a higher priority. If body fat loss is desired, utilize more complex/total body strength moves while keeping the repetitions around 10-12 per execise. If hypertrophy is desired, segmenting per body part with each superset is more effective, keeping the repetitions at 8-10 per exercise (see acute variables below).

All in all, these workouts are very taxing but well worth the rewards!  Below are five of my personal favorites.  Countless combinations can be used with this training method…play around with them and you’ll be hooked too…

Strength Endurance Workout:

  • Perform a 10-15 minute dynamic warm-up
  • 3-4 sets/pair of exercises
  • 8-12 reps/exercise @ 70% of 1RM
  • Rest 1 minute between pairs/2-3 minutes between sets


  1. Barbell Clean to Overhead Press/Single Leg Squat with Dumbbell PNF
  2. Barbell Deadlift to Bent over row/Single Leg Deadlift to Dumbbell row
  3. Rockstars/TRX Atomic Pushups
  4. Barbell Squats/TRX Pistol Squat
  5. Pullups/TRX Rotational Pullup

Training Tools for Fitness Fast

Many think they don’t have time to exercise…well I’m here to say THINK AGAIN! With minimal resources there is always a way.  Recently I did a “Fitness Fast” workshop featuring resistance tubing, TRX, and dumbbells.  I love all three of these fitness tools for a few reason.  One, they are convenient.  Two, they are easy to use.  And three, they are great for functional training.

Here is a brief overview of all three with a sample circuit with each.  Perform any of the circuits for a quick 10-15 minute workout or perform all three for a longer, more challenging workout.


Resistance Tubing: is a simple and effective way to get a complete workout and comes with many benefits.  It’s portable and can be taken anywhere, whether you’re traveling, looking for an alternative to the gym or just want to add another element to your training.  In addition to the convenience, resistance tubing can also create some unique training challenges as well.  Tubing adds a progressive increase in resistance, it can be used at different speeds, and provides a horizontal load similar to the cable cross over machines you see at the gym. Simply hook one to a solid anchor point and now you can perform rowing, pressing, rotations and leg movements.  Great for training variety and preparing for recreational activities year round!

Sample Resistance Tubing Circuit:  1-3 sets x 1 minute each

  • Squat Row
  • Rotational Chest Press
  • Resisted Lunge
  • Torso Rotations

TRX Suspension Trainer: is a body weight training tool made from suspension straps. Attach the TRX to an overhead anchor point or door attachment and adjust the angle of your body to make exercises easier or more challenging. This training tool also creates more demand on the core muscles and helps increase joint stability because the straps need to be controlled by the body. You can easily perform hundreds of exercises using the TRX!

Sample TRX Circuit: 1-3 sets x 1 minute each

  • Pushup
  • Single Leg Lunge
  • Pull ups
  • Ice Skaters

Dumbbell Training: is one of the oldest yet most effective training tools around.  Dumbbells allow for every movement essential for human function and can be used virtually anywhere.  With a single pair of dumbbells, you can easily perform a total body circuit that will get your heart pumping and muscles burning.  Dumbbells are a great accessory to add to your home gym.

Sample Dumbbell Circuit: 1-3 sets x 1 minute each

  • Lunge to Bicep Curl & Press
  • Plank/Dumbbell Row Combo
  • Squat to Dumbbell Upper Cut
  • Standing Dumbbell Paddle