In the musculoskeletal rehab, we’ve made huge strides understanding the importance of improving the strength of patients returning from an injury. But often we’re faced with the challenge of getting the right strength equipment in place. I’d love for every physical therapy, chiropractic, and athletic training facility to have barbells and kettlebells. But, I understand space and issues convincing management to update equipment. An easy way to combat lack of proper equipment is to begin using suspension trainer rehab exercises in your programming.
Suspension trainers are incredibly cheap and take up little space. They also can provide a wide variety of easily scalable exercise options for all populations. In order to provide better loading options I commonly recommend suspension trainers. Below you’ll find a few of my most commonly prescribed suspension trainer exercises.
I use the Edge Suspension Trainer in my clinic as it is a great, affordable option at only $59.99, which is much less than other brands such as TRX. If you are looking to buy one, please use my affiliate link to help support my work!
Looking for more great equipment recommendations for rehab settings? check out my free e-book outlining what I believe to be the best pieces of rehab equipment.
The following list of suspension trainer rehab exercises is far from complete but will be a great starting point for many.
Upper Body Suspension Trainer Rehab Exercises
Wall slides are a popular shoulder rehab exercise. But when using a wall, you are limited to being flat against the wall. This makes wall slides difficult if you have a lack of shoulder elevation or thoracic mobility. By walking backward a few steps using a suspension trainer, you can regress this and eventually progress your arms to parallel with your body. I also like to place my hands in the foot straps and push posteriorly in order to activate the upper quarter posterior chain during this before any upper body workouts.
Serratus Anterior Single Arm Punches
Combining the benefits of serrates anterior strengthening with an unstable surface makes this exercise a great one for shoulder rehab. Regress down to having both hands in straps if an easier variation is needed.
An excellent rehab and general strength exercise for the entire upper back. Works the traps, rhomboids, and rotator cuff. I especially like doing a drop set here where I have individuals do 10 tough reps then take a step back for less resistance and crank out more reps.
External rotations are always a staple in shoulder rehab programs and can easily be performed with a suspension trainer. The benefit of this set up versus a theraband is the added core challenge. Many individuals with a tendency to overextend the lumbar spine during overhead lifts will do the same here, making this a great exercise to start retraining that pattern.
Lower Body Suspension Trainer Rehab Exercises
Single Leg Squats
A challenging strength more for athletes of all levels. The suspension trainer version gives us two great benefits:
(1) it reduces the balance demands for those limited more by balance than strength and
(2) we can use a little arm assistance if needed to unload the movement if unassisted single-leg squats are too hard.
The SLDL with a suspension trainer is a great teaching tool to instruct a client on the proper way to perform a single leg deadlift. TRX systems allow for the client to have increased stability and allows them to focus on proper hip and trunk positioning.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
I prefer this version to having the back foot on a bench as the suspension trainer is less supportive. This prevents the back leg from contributing as much force and works the front leg significantly more.
Prepare for a serious burn with this one. Keep the hips high the entire time as the knee bends back and forth.
Core Body Suspension Trainer Rehab Movements
If you thought standard side planks were tough, adding the instability of the suspension trainer takes is to another level!
This exercise is excellent for working the anterior abs and hip flexors.
A very underrated exercise in the strength world that works with bands, cable columns, and suspension trainers. This builds strong anti-rotation strength in the midline.
Working with a lot of fitness athletes, I find this exercise incredibly valuable for strengthening the midline and shoulder girdle with excellent translation to the gymnastics skills CrossFit athletes perform.
Like the pike above, the body saw can be a great exercise to work midline strength & lats together, which is the foundation for many fitness athlete movements.
If you are ready to grab a suspension trainer for your clinic, I’d again recommend looking at the Edge Suspension Trainer for a high-quality piece of equipment for a phenomenal deal!