Suspension Trainers Tested Side by Side
Suspension trainers are too often viewed as little more than a home workout novelty tool. However, when used correctly, they offer a crucial spark to your exercise and performance improvements. You may have walked past (and bumped your head on) the hanging straps handles, discounting them as something to be used for your warmup, rehab, or for when your gym is shut. However, plenty of high-level exercisers regularly incorporate suspension training into their routine because this equipment is a deceptively intense muscle-building and fat burning tool. You can very easily buy a set up for your home or travel gym which you’ll unquestionably find at cut price rates.
Despite the discounts, this type of training tool is actually something you want to spend a little more on because it’s supporting your bodyweight and poor workmanship will cost you in medical bills or an appearance on YouTube Funny Fail compilations. The TRX was first on the scene and still holds a good chunk of the market share, mostly because exercisers who bought these 10 years ago are still using the same product now. Their quality is undeniable, but how do they compare to newer and more innovative competitors like the Recoil S2? If you’re thinking of buying one, then use this comparative analysis to make an informed decision about which product best suits your needs because this is something that you should have in your home workout kit for decades to come.
Ease of Adjustability
The TRX’s handles need to be adjusted individually while Recoil allows you to lengthen or shorten just one handle while the other handle automatically calibrates to an equal length. This halves the time it takes to adjust the straps during your workout and makes it perfect for exercise combinations such as super sets where you want to move quickly between two different exercises. Adjustment times cost you training intensity which is the bed rock of exercise results. The Recoil system also removes that nagging doubt which you often get when you use a TRX and wonder if you’ve set the handles to equal lengths. If you want peace of mind and more intense workouts the Recoil gets all the points for adjustability.
The big difference between the Recoil and TRX is that the latter’s straps work as a single unit. This means you can very easily lean on your stronger limb to complete a rep by shifting to the focus to the left or right. Over time, this feature of the TRX can carve out an imbalance of power between limbs and even cause injury. Fortunately, it’s impossible for Recoil’s straps to ever adjust to uneven lengths which means each limb will always work with equal measure. The fact that the straps are locked in place also creates an additional safety measure for those times when one limb reaches muscle failure between out before the other.
The selling point of all suspension trainers is that you can do them anywhere. By comparison, the single mount systems of both the TRX and Recoil makes them far more user friendly to set up and adjust than other options such as Olympic Rings. For both of these, you just need a door, tree or bar. Some of the TRX models, and certainly the cheaper suspension trainers, only have one mount point lashing strap that allows you to adjust the length from which the product hangs. Recoil S2 offers two lengths options so your handles can be hung high or low, based on your set up. This is very handy if you have varying ceiling heights and allows a greater variation in your workout options. Once hung, both systems do offer you hundreds of exercise variations, making them incredibly resourceful companions to every home gym, but they appear to do this in equal measure without one product standing out above the other.
Hanging off things is a great way to develop the wrist strength needed for Popeye-like forearms. Both the TRX and Recoil offer both hand grips and foot stirrups which you can rest your feet to do single leg exercises. For both these products, these grips are cushioned and near on identical so there’s not much face value difference between them. That said, Recoil do only offer one set of handles while TRX have a suite of products which boast different handle options. It’s worth mentioning that if you’re into CrossFit then these products may prevent you from learning proper false grip that’s essential for Crossfit muscle-ups. This where you wrap your hand further around a handle of an Olympic ring so your wrist is level with it so you can transition from the pull up to the dip element of the muscle up. The handles of a TRX and Recoil will rotate in your hand if you try to use a false grip, basically making it virtually impossible to hold the position. If you have weak wrists then reach for Recoil andTRX to build up your strength, but if you want your grip to be rock solid then the Olympic rings are the only answer, so chalk up and get going.
Recoil have straps that can extend to an incredible length that’s upwards of 6 feet long. And while there are long strap TRX options available, this feature from Recoil offers far more exercise versatility than the TRX ever can. The reasoning behind is that no matter how long or short you set Recoil’s straps – they will never be in your way in the same way the excess strap length a TRX may offer. Annoyingly, the angle of the clips that adjust the straps of the TRX are often set to 90° (depending on which exercise you’re doing) so they can dig into your arms during certain moves. This means if you set the TRX straps to their max length then you may have the straps or a buckle rubbing uncomfortably into your arms or legs. And at their shortest length you could have a buckle niggling into your flesh. Recoil’s straps are all one smooth length that can be adjusted with a single click of a button. This helps it solve one of the main gripes people have with TRX and makes them a clear winner.
Being able to take these exercise systems away with you is a big plus, but does one shine head and shoulders above the rest? The little bag that the TRX comes in is a nice way to keep them all together but the Recoil system also fits into a tidy bag that can be packed up into a package of equal size. That said, the Recoil system is just a little bit heavier than the TRX thanks to its central adjustment mechanism, but what you save on weight you gain in time sized during adjustments between exercises. And if you want to take either system to the park then they’re easy enough to stuff into a back pack and take with you.
Space and Aesthetics
The TRX iconic black and yellow might tell everyone you’re sticking with the pioneers of the suspension game. However, if you’re after something that looks far sleeker and more innovative, Recoil is the only product choice for your home gym. It’s black and silver aesthetic is beautiful and functional because you’re not left with hanging straps that can get in the way and tangle up young children. A TRX will always be hanging in your way unless you consciously choose to make the effort to dismount it. By comparison the Recoil neatly retracts to leave you with a single sleek unit that’s very unobtrusive and family friendly. If you’re all about minimalism and space optimisation then Recoil is the smartest choice you can make, especially when you consider that it competes on every aspect of price and functionality.
HANGING ON: THE FINAL WORD
While the subtle differences seem to be almost indistinguishable at face value, there are certain elements of each suspension trainer to suit each person’s level of experience. Cheaper options, such as Olympic rings are probably better suited to advanced lifters and CrossFitters while TRX and Recoil are best suited those who are chasing a more rounded source of fitness while still offering something of significant value to advanced exercisers. Whatever your goals, there are insurmountable gains to be made by stringing up your fitness strategy and Recoil has everything you wish your outdated TRX could offer.