Bolster your chest and bench training with these 5 challenging push up variations. Article includes form tips, along with the pros & cons of using a suspension trainer.

A suspension trainer is a great piece of equipment to invest in.  There are various brands out there that all have their pros and cons.  I’m not much of a picky person, but I do like the XT Jungle Gym, which I currently use.

With suspension trainers you can take a simple bodyweight exercise and get creative with them to increase the level of difficulty.  This article is a quick guide on how to do any suspended push up. I will also give you 5 push up variations you can try with a suspension trainer today, along with a few pros and cons.

A few pros of suspended push ups

Performing push ups on a suspension trainer can stimulate your core muscles, shoulder stabilizers, and develop upper body strength.  Both beginners and advanced trainees can benefit from suspended push ups.

For beginners, you can adjust the length of the suspension trainer to allow you to control the difficulty of the movement.  The closer your body is horizontal to for floor, the harder the exercise will be.

On the other hand, advanced trainees can position their body more horizontal to the floor and add variation with movement of handles and feet to increase muscle recruitment.

This allows suspension trainers to be versatile for everyone, especially if you workout in a group setting.

A few cons of suspended push ups

Those of you who have any type of shoulder injury should not perform these exercises.  If you choose to do so, it is important you keep proper positioning and adjust the straps in order to put less stress on the shoulder stabilizers during the exercises.

It looks easier than it really is.  Although you may be able to bench press a Buick and shoulder press a gazelle, if it’s your first time with a suspension trainer take your time.  You will shake uncontrollably because you are using a bunch of different muscles at once.  There is no sense in trying an exercise and getting hurt.

Quick guide on how to do any suspended push up

  1. As mentioned above, adjust the straps depending on training level, grab the handles firmly and face away from the anchor point.
  2. Arms should be straight and inline with your shoulders with a neutral grip (palms facing in).
  3. Lower your chest toward the handles, DO NOT go beyond the handles.  This will place unnecessary stress on the shoulder joint.
  4. Pause at the bottom of the exercise and return back to the starting position while keeping your body rigid.

When performing any suspension training push up, it is important to keep your core tight, glutes activated, and a tight grip on the handles.  This will keep you in proper posture and position.

If you have access to a suspension trainer, give any of the following 5 Suspension training push up variations a try.

5 suspension trainer push up variations

Suspension trainer push up

Performing a push up using a suspension trainer is a great way to improve your stabilizing shoulder muscles.  If it’s your first time doing this exercise, you may experience some sort of shaking and feeling of instability.  Remember the main coaching cues; keep your core tight, glutes activated, and a tight grip on the handles.

Suspension trainer archer push up

The Archer push up is the next progression from the regular push up.  A good coaching cue with this exercise is to keep your core tight and squeeze your butt.  Your body is going to want to shift away from the arm that is moving outwards.  Remember, the lower you position your body to the ground, the harder this movement will be.

Suspension trainer chest fly

Think of yourself doing a chest fly with a cable.  The big different is that you are lowering your body down towards the ground.  The first time I did these I was surprised at how hard they were, and how shaky my body was.  To stimulate the chest even more at the end of the movement, as your arms come together – turn your palms forward.  This will make it similar to a dumbbell twisting fly.

Suspension trainer Superman push up

You can call these suspension trainer push up with reach, but I think Superman push ups sound way cooler.  These are great for training shoulder stabilization and anti-rotation.  You want to keep your body square to the ground.  Your shoulders and hips are going to want to rotate to the side you are reaching out with.  Keep a tight grip on the handles and total body tension.

Suspension trainer dive bomber

These may not be the hardest of them all, but I do like to add this during a metabolic conditioning workout, core work, or first thing in the morning to wake up my body.  The higher your handles are from the floor, the more emphasis you place on your upper pecs and shoulders

Can you build a big and strong chest with a suspension trainer?

I’m a big advocate of suspension training.  It will help improve your strength and muscle development over a period of time because it brings a new and different stimulus to your muscles.

But, will working on just suspended push ups give you an Arnold-like chest, or have you benching over 300 lbs? Probably not. But when used as accessory and extra work, they are a great tool to help you push towards these goals.

For those of you who have a home-based gym or travel, these exercises will be a good addition to your workout routine if you have access to a suspension trainer.

Final thoughts

These are only 5 suspension trainer push up variations.  I’m sure there are many more out there, but these exercise variations should get you started.  What I enjoy most about training my chest with a suspension trainer is that I’m able to get creative, trying different variations and tempos during these exercises.