Sling Training


One of the websites touting the benefits of sling training is . Its home webpage states, “Suspension training is about harnessing your own body weight against gravity and performing suspended exercises to maximise strength development, stability, endurance and sculpt the body. This form of training is revolutionising workouts throughout the world as more people discover just how effective it is, and is being adopted by professional athletes and top trainers alike.”


The purpose of sling training is to exercise the entire body with the use of suspension devices in order to develop simultaneously better balance and coordination, flexibility and movability, joint stability, and strength. In addition, because this type of exercise program is so effective at improving the fitness of the participant, sling training also provides this improvement in many different types of exercises and intensity levels.


Sling training can be performed by people of any age group and of any fitness level. It is normally used as a compliment to traditional training programs.


The program called sling training involves using the weight of the exerciser (that is as resistance to gravity) to perform all of the exercises. All that is needed is a device called a suspension trainer and a stable structure to attach the suspension trainer to, such as a door. A suspension trainer consists of resistance equipment. The basic equipment used for sling training consists of two handles, with lengths of adjustable webbing that can be fixed to a stationary object such as a wall, door, beam, bar, or any other stable structure. The handles are molded to be foot cradles or hand grips. Various exercises are possible under this method. The angle of inclination can be easily changed within each exercise, along with the intensity level.

The training consists of using one's own body weight and gravity to develop strength, balance, flexibility, and joint mobility—all at the same time. Individuals can customize the training to fit their own needs of difficulty and intensity. To do this, only the body position or angle at which the exercise is performed need be adjusted.

Because all sling training exercises involve a “suspended state” rather than positions found in traditional weight training equipment, the core muscles of the body (those within the trunk [torso]) are developed more fully. This is so because the body must work extra hard to stabilize its movements against the force of gravity while performing the exercises.

Some of the benefits of sling training are:

Hundreds of sling training exercises are possible. The following are some of the more common ones used (along with their benefits, what muscles are primarily exercised, and the difficulty level):

Muscles in the upper arm, also called biceps brachii.
Physical exercises that improve fitness and muscle tone, such as situps, pushups, and jumping jacks.
Relating to the heart and blood vessels.
Thick, triangular muscle that covers the shoulder joint.
Any of three muscles that form the buttocks in humans.
The attraction due to the gravitational pull of the Earth to another body with mass.
One of three muscles located on the back of the thigh that control leg movements.
Latissimus dorsi—
Broad, triangular-shaped muscles along the sides of the back.
Any of four flat muscles, positioned two on each side of the front of the chest, that help to move the upper arm and shoulder.
A large muscle group at the front of the thigh that extends the leg.
Strength training—
The use of resistance to muscular contraction to improve anaerobic endurance, muscle size, and overall body strength.
Large muscle along the back of the upper arm that straightens the elbow.


Beginners to sling training should initially start with shorter workout times and longer rest periods in between each exercise. Make sure that the technique of each exercise is being performed properly. Be familiar with each exercise to make sure one is doing them correctly. As fitness levels increase, slowly increase the workout times and decrease the resting periods between exercises. Add more advanced exercises into the workout program as one feels more comfortable with them. At the same time, increase resistance levels or increase the intensity of the workout as one's fitness level increases.

Warming up is important because it helps to prepare the muscles before they are asked to do more strenuous work. A warm-up period may consist of about 5–10 minutes of light jogging, walking, or simple calisthenics like jumping rope. Let the body get accustomed to exercising. Do not overdo it at the beginning. Doing stretches are also recommended during the warm-up routine. However, do not stretch right at the start because one may pull a muscle.

Once sling training is completed, it is a good idea to spend about five minutes cooling down. Lightly jogging or walking helps the body to settle back down to its normal routine. More stretching exercises are also helpful.


There are always risks of injury while exercising in its various forms. However, these risks can be kept to a minimum by warming up before exercising and cooling down after finishing sling training. More importantly, the risks of not staying fit include becoming overweight or obese (excessively overweight), increasing one's risk for coronary heart disease, and an overall weakening of bones and muscles. To prevent this from happening, sling training is a good way to exercise all of the major muscle groups, stay fit, and reduce the risk of health problems.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their weekly fitness plans. The HHS states that these people perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity) each week. In addition, the HHS states that strength training should be performed at least twice a week. Sling training is included within this strength training program.





Cook, Gregg, and Fatima d'Almeida-Cook. The Gym Survival Guide: Your Road Map to Fearless Fitness. New York: Sterling, 2008.

Plowman, Sharon A., and Denise L. Smith. Exercise Physiology for Health, Fitness, and Performance, 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

Schoenfeld, Brad. Women's Home Workout Bible. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010.

Sutton, Amy L, ed. Fitness and Exercise Sourcebook, 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2007.


“Suspension Training Exercise.” . (accessed January 22, 2017).

“Suspension Training: What is Suspension Training?” . (accessed January 22, 2017).


American Council on Exercise, 4851 Paramount Dr., San Diego, CA, 92123, (858) 576-6500, (888) 825-3636, Fax: (858) 576-6564,, .

National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, 1150 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 300, Washington, DC, 20036, (202) 454-7521,, .

National Strength and Conditioning Association, 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO, 80906, (719) 632-6722, (800) 815-6826, Fax: (719) 632-6367,, .

President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Ste. 560, Rockville, MD, 20852, (240) 276-9567, Fax: (240) 276-9860,, .

SHAPE America, 1900 Association Dr., Reston, VA, 20191-1598, (800) 213-7193, Fax: (703) 476-9527, .

William A. Atkins, BB, BS, MBA

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.