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The home gym is all the rage RN. But… what if you could pack up your home gym in a tiny little bag and bring it with you wherever you go?

Enter: the suspension trainer. Suspension trainers are straps with handles that hang from a fixed point — like a door, pole, tree, or ceiling. You can set them up almost anywhere (hey, if you don’t mind weird looks, the sky’s the limit). Just find a secure spot to anchor them and you’ve got yourself a bodyweight workout on the go.

If you’re all about dumbbells, it’s time to suspend your disbelief in the power of bodyweight workouts. Here are the best suspension trainers of 2021.

The suspense was killing us, so we asked Ben Walker, personal trainer and owner of Anywhere Fitness, to give us all the essential deets on suspension trainers.

“A suspension trainer,” he explains, “is a pair of hanging bands or straps that can be tied to any upright or flat positioned object. They can be adjusted to meet any size or angle while targeting any muscle group in any space.”

Sounds legit. He adds that there are three key benefits to using a suspension trainer:

  • Muscle engagement. “The suspension trainer is very useful for recruiting more muscle groups during bodyweight exercises and promoting muscular stability,” he says. This means the super small muscles that help stabilize your entire body get fired up — which doesn’t happen during all types of strength training.
  • Core training. According to Walker (and science), using suspension trainers is an amazing way to strengthen your core. Even exercises targeting other muscle groups will activate your core, no matter which direction you’re moving in.
  • Mobility and flexibility. Walker also says a suspension trainer is great for helping you get bendier, which is super important — especially because we ain’t gettin’ any younger. Holding the straps helps promote shoulder stability, and using your feet to control the bands helps improve hip mobility.

All right, we’re convinced.

Walker explained to us that the absolute most critical things to look for when choosing a suspension trainer are the safety, durability, and comfort of the materials.

So, here are the criteria we used to pick the top suspension trainers:

  • Handles. The handles should be made from high quality foam. “Handles made from cheap foam can affect hand grip and irritate skin,” explains Walker.
  • Straps. Straps should be “made from a strong, durable material such as nylon,” says Walker. However, they should also be sleek and easy to move when progressing through your workout.
  • Anchor attachments. Walker says these should be “easy to mount, sturdy, and less complicated to attach to different objects.” Ideally, your suspension trainer should come with a variety of anchors that allow you to set it up indoors (on a wall or doorframe) or outdoors (on a tree, pole, or railing).
  • Buckles. Finally, since you want straps that move easily, you want buckles that… don’t. “If they become loose,” Walker explains, “they can shift position and cause issues… such as falling abruptly or becoming unbalanced.” Yikes.

Best overall: TRX ALL-IN-ONE Suspension Training Bodyweight Resistance System

  • Price: $$
  • Includes training guide: Yes
  • Max weight: 350 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor (door), outdoor

This one comes personally recommended by Walker. He likes the TRX All-in-One because it meets all his safety and quality criteria, and — in his words — “It comes with tons of extras!” These extras include a workout guide, anchors for indoor and outdoor workouts, and a travel bag. He recommends it for both beginners and more advanced athletes.

Best splurge: Recoil S2 Pro

  • Price: $$$
  • Includes training guide: Yes
  • Max weight: 330 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor (door), outdoor, wall

With two mounting systems, you can pretty much use the Recoil S2 Pro anywhere. The straps also feature push-button adjustment, so you can easily and quickly move between tons of different exercises. The grips are high quality rubber designed to last, and the straps are stored inside the base when not in use, so they’re tangle-free and easy to stash away.

Best for travel: TRX GO Suspension Trainer System

  • Price: $$
  • Includes training guide: Yes
  • Max weight: 350 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor (door), outdoor

The TRX Go is perfect if you travel often, because you can set it up in less than a minute and use it inside or outside (hotel room doors, trees… maybe not at the airport, but hey, you do you). And it comes with a travel bag, so you can easily grab it and go. The whole kit also weighs less than a pound, so it’s way easier to pack in a bag than, say, a kettlebell.

Best for advanced athletes: TRX PRO4 System

  • Price: $$$
  • Includes training guide: Yes — 1 year of free access to TRX On Demand app
  • Max weight: 350 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor (door), outdoor

TRX… again? Yup. They’ve got this suspension trainer thing down. Their latest model, the PRO4, is built to endure some abuse, which makes it ideal for people who are doing more intense workouts. The straps also feature adjustable stirrups to accommodate feet (and shoes) of all sizes, so it’s perfect for a household full of fitness buffs too.

Best for beginners: RitFit Bodyweight Resistance Training Kit

  • Price: $
  • Includes training guide: Yes
  • Max weight: 400 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor (door), outdoor

This suspension trainer from RitFit is moderately priced and includes a progressive workout guide, so it’s ideal for beginners who are on the fence about making a huge investment. Reviewers are impressed with the construction and the quality of the materials, especially for the price. You can also add gymnastics rings for just a few extra dollars, which will allow you to do even more exercises (or practice for your Cirque du Soleil audition).

Best midrange trainer: Lifeline Jungle Gym Suspension Trainer System

  • Price: $
  • Includes training guide: Yes
  • Max weight: 300 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor (door), outdoor

This suspension trainer has solid reviews, and it’s moderately priced compared with a lot of other models on the market. It also has a unique “split anchor system” that allows you to change the distance between the straps to target different muscle groups.

Best budget option: FITINDEX Fitness Resistance Trainer Kit

  • Price: $
  • Includes training guide: Yes
  • Max weight: 400 lbs.
  • Anchoring system: Indoor or outdoor (no door anchor included)

On a budget? According to reviews, this inexpensive option is surprisingly durable — and it boasts a max weight capacity of 400 pounds. It doesn’t come with a door anchor, but it can be anchored on any sturdy horizontal or vertical bar, beam, or tree (including, theoretically, a horizontal tree… or a strong tree branch). As a bonus, it comes with four resistance bands.

Ready to go shopping so your muscles can get some Arrested Suspended Development? Here’s how to pick the best suspension trainer for you:

  • Remember: safety, durability, comfort. Take Walker’s advice and assess the safety of the trainer and make sure the materials are high quality enough to be comfortable and durable.
  • Know your budget. There are some good trainers at all price points, but of course the higher your budget, the more tricked-out, high quality trainer you’ll be able to get.
  • Assess the specs. Will the suspension trainer accommodate your weight? Does it come with the right anchor attachments to set it up where you plan to get movin’? Essential questions.
  • Read the reviews. Especially the negative ones. If there are any common patterns, particularly in relation to safety (“The buckles are loose! I fell and broke my [*insert body part*]!”), then HARD PASS.

Suspension trainers are a great way to leverage your body weight for some powerful, effective whole-body workouts.

Here’s the thing though: Materials and design matter. When picking a suspension trainer, look for the one in your budget that’s made from the highest-quality materials. The ones we listed above? Solid options. They’ll keep you suspended, but they won’t leave you hangin’.