Suspended Crunch

Suspension Training

Body-weight exercises have long been a staple of military training, so it's not surprising that an improvement on these basic movements was developed by a U.S. Navy Seal.

Intending to create a versatile yet effective way of maintaining peak condition on base or aboard ship, Randy Hetrick devised a method of training that uses suspended body weight against gravity to maximize core strength, muscle development and stability. What's unique is that the level of difficulty can be adjusted by changing body positions or angles, making it adaptable to any fitness level.

It involves several yards of nylon webbing with handles and adjustable buckles that can be attached to a sturdy horizontal support, such as a beam, swing-set cross bar, bolted to a wall or attached to a strong door. It's a powerful piece of equipment that can be folded into a small bundle, perfect for a mobile workout.

Keep all movements slow and controlled, supporting the body with core muscles throughout each exercise.

Suspended Crunch
1. Adjust straps to 8 to 10 inches above the floor. Assume hands and knees position, facing away from straps. Place tops of feet through handles.
2. With feet suspended, position body as for a push-up. For an easier version, instead of hands, rest weight on elbows.
3. Lift hips and pull knees toward chest in a crunch movement. Maintain support with core and abdominal muscles. Raise hips as high as strength will allow. Squeeze abdominal muscles.
4. Extend legs back to starting position.
Repeat two sets of five repetitions.
Note: This exercise can be done as a crunch with legs bent, or a more advanced pike position, keeping legs straight while raising hips.

Single-Leg Squat
1. Stand facing straps. Hold handles with light, neutral grip with arms at shoulder height. Elbows will be slightly bent.
2. Lift one leg off the floor and hold in extended position.
3. Maintain balance and alignment while lowering body to sitting position until raised foot is parallel to the floor without touching. Distribute weight evenly during exercise, using lower body and core muscles as much as possible.
4. Raise body back to standing position. Repeat two sets of 10 repetitions.

Chest Press
1. Lengthen straps and stand facing away from suspension base. Lean forward while gripping handles in a firm, neutral grip. Arms are extended in front at shoulder height; feet are behind, about shoulder-width apart.
2. Keeping elbows at shoulder height, lower chest toward hands as you would for a push-up.
3. Hold briefly at the bottom of the exercise, then straighten arms in a controlled motion to start position. Use core muscles to maintain alignment. Repeat two sets of 12 repetitions.

Back Row
1. Shorten straps completely.
2. Stand facing the straps with arms extended at shoulder height. Holding the handles, lean back until body is at an angle to the floor. Feet are about shoulder-width apart, hands are held at a 45-degree angle with wrists neutral. Keep chest high and hold body in alignment.
3. Squeeze shoulder blades together as you pull the body forward toward handles until hands reach chest. Keep back straight and hips in alignment. Maintain 45-degree hand position throughout the exercise.
4. Lower chest to starting position to finish the movement. Repeat two sets of 12 repetitions.

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