Full-Body Exercises

Two Suspension Trainer Workouts You Can Do in Less Than 30 Minutes

Grab your favorite pair of straps and tackle the following two routines to build muscle, burn fat, and challenge your entire body.

Suspension Trainer Workout
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Duration 15-30 min
Exercises 12
Equipment Yes

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: “You don’t need equipment to get a great workout—just use your body weight.” It’s a cliché, but it’s also true. Many a man has built a great physique, not to mention tons of grit and respect, with nothing more than old-school military moves like pushups, pullups, situps, and body-weight squats.

Problem is, these exercises get a little boring after a while. But by adding just one simple piece of equipment to your arsenal—a suspension trainer—you can reap all the benefits of functional body-weight exercises and more. More exercises, that is, and a lot less boredom.

There are a number of different brands of suspension trainers, with TRX being the most recognizable name, but they all pretty much share the same design: long, sturdy straps with handles at either end that you attach to a solid anchor point overhead. And voilà, by having the ability to “suspend” your hands or feet above ground, you have a whole new world of exercises at your disposal: pulling moves like rows and curls that you couldn’t do without the straps; a variety of challenging lower-body exercises to give you a break from 50-rep sets of air squats and walking lunges; and intense core engagement on virtually every movement, since you’re forced to hold a rigid plank position while fighting to maintain stability with freely moving handles.

No home gym should be without a suspension trainer, and you can find one online for under $200. Once you get yours, try the following two workouts (one that takes 30 minutes, another that takes 15 minutes). Both were designed by Zach Even-Esh, who, in addition to being the founder of the Underground Strength Gym and author of the Amazon best-seller The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength & Conditioning, is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Rutgers University wrestling team. So you’re in good (strong) hands.

The 30-Minute Workout

This workout is split into upper- and lower-body trisets. That is, you’ll perform one set of all three upper-body moves, one right after the other. After four sets, you’ll move on to the lower-body triset. “This routine will challenge each area of the body intensely,” notes Even-Esh.

The 15-Minute Workout

This one is a full-body routine that incorporates a triset and a superset to raise intensity while increasing the amount of work you achieve in less time. “The triset and superset are what we call ‘mechanical advantage’ dropsets,” Even-Esh says. “You first perform an exercise in the toughest position, and then you continue changing the body angle to an easier position.” Meanwhile, the mountain climbers will attack the abs and the upper body (isometrically) and raise your heart rate.

The following routines were designed to be done with an adjustable suspension trainer. (Select the brand of your choice: TRX, Lifeline Jungle Gym XT, etc.) Keep in mind that it will likely take some trial and error on your part to determine appropriate strap length and body angles for individual exercises, as well as the best anchor point for the trainer. For optimal results, use an anchor point well above head level—e.g., a pullup bar or another sturdy gym rig.

30-Minute Workout DIRECTIONS: Perform exercises 1A, 1B, and 1C as a triset. Do the same for exercises 2A, 2B, and 2C. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between trisets.

Exercise 1A

TRX Pushup You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Pushup thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

Triceps Extension (suspension trainer) How to
Suspension Trainer Triceps Extension thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1C

TRX Biceps Curl You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Biceps Curl thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2A

TRX Leg Curl You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Leg Curl thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2B

TRX Lunge Jump You'll need: TRX How to
Suspension Trainer Lunge Jump thumbnail
4 sets
4 per side reps
-- rest

Exercise 2C

TRX Overhead Squat You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Overhead Squat thumbnail
4 sets
8 reps
-- rest
Perform a 5-second eccentric (negative) on each rep.

15-Minute Workout DIRECTIONS: Perform exercises 1A, 1B, and 1C as a triset. Perform exercises 3A and 3B as a superset. Rest 60 seconds after the triset and superset, and 30 seconds after each set of mountain climbers.

Exercise 1A

TRX Scarecrow You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Scarecrow thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

TRX Face Pull You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Face Pull thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1C

TRX Recline Row You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Recline Row thumbnail
3 sets
To failure reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

TRX Mountain Climber You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Mountain Climber thumbnail
4 sets
30 seconds reps
-- rest

Exercise 3A

TRX Bulgarian Split Squat You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Bulgarian Split Squat thumbnail
3 sets
5 per side reps
-- rest

Exercise 3B

TRX Squat Jump You'll need: TRX How to
TRX Squat Jump thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
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