Old School Suspension Training

Following two recent blog entries on suspension training (Homemade Suspension Trainer and Suspension Training Exercises), I’ve received several follow ups regarding the origin of these tools and inquiries regarding the durability of the homemade model.

To begin, one reader of the site recently posted a link to an 1866 book (Athletic Sports For Boys) that has illustrations of a homemade suspension trainer. It begins on the bottom of page 43.

Page 43

The image above comes from page 45.

Below is another image of an outdoor play area. You can see several gymnastic apparatuses included within.

It is nice to be reminded that much of what we see today is everything but new. Suspension trainers are big time business in 2010. Many readers emailed me under the impression that this style of training was brand new. Yet here we have a book that was printed in 1866. Therefore, almost 150 years ago there were authors describing this style of training. Clearly, it wasn’t invented in 1866. The authors were simply writing about something that was common at the time.

As for the durability of the homemade model, I’ve been using it for approximately 2 months now. It has held up extremely well with absolutely no signs of wear or tear. Based on the inexpensive price tag and ease of construction, this DIY tool is definitely a keeper.

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  1. Take away the suspension stuff and add monkey bars and that second picture looks just like the playground I use for many of my workouts! It’s one of those “fitness trails” things. I love it.

    Thanks for the homemade susupension trainer instructions. I’ll be making one soon!

  2. Too bad most playgrounds don’t look like the one pictured!!! People have become so litigious that kids can’t climb ropes any more! When I was in Santa Monica at the workout area at the beach I couldn’t help but think “why doesn’t every town have one of these available?”. Anyway, great blog, Ross. Thanks.

  3. Interesting illustrations, but I enjoy how page 5 (the page the playground picture is taken from) extorts boys to “rigidly guard against the dangerous practice of drinking cold water, which, in many instances, has been known to produce immediate death.”

    I just love trying to imagine where a belief like that comes from.

  4. I sent the link to the above book on the suspension trainer article. If you think that’s neat try looking at some of the exercising machine patents in the late 1800’s. Here are two similar to the suspension trainer. There are other patents of door attachments etc. I haven’t included. That era looks like an explosion of home exercise equipment. I was surprised to see they used elastic tubing back then in this kind of equipment. The TRX is an evolvement, but here it shows it’s roots.

    Patent number: 562389
    Issue date: Jun 1896

    Patent number: 605237
    Filing date: Jan 11, 1895
    Issue date: Jun 1898

  5. Suspension training is not new. It is just new to those who have never heard of it before. It is a smart way to train. If you can make your own why not but then if you are not so keen there are plenty of bargains to be found with the suspension trainers. TRX are not offering anything new. Only the materials for making the product are more robust (I assume)

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