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  Make your own Suspension Straps (Blast Straps)

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What are Blast Straps?

The Blast Straps are the newest way to perform bodyweight exercises in a challenging way. These movements are excellent as they allow athletes to move their bodies against external resistance in a multi-dimensional environment. They also force athletes to move their bodies against unstable forces. If you compare a barbell bench press to a Blast Strap push up, you will notice that the athlete can use the bench, the floor and the barbell to help stabilize the weight. With the Blast Strap push up, the body is being moved instead of a barbell and thus the body has to stabilize itself during the exercise. This incorporates many more muscles because of the stabilization effect.  Suspended push-ups have been a part of many training programs but setting them up has always been a pain. 

Blast Straps are sold by Elite Fitness Systems (   Although the heavy duty nylon straps, clasps and handles are made very well, I decided to make a cheap pair myself and save the $60 cost of the originals.  There is another version of these suspension straps out now called the TRX system that is being publicized heavily... not bad if you don't mind paying $149!


As you can see from the picture above, I used a small amount of rope, some PVC pipe, some strong cargo tie down straps (mostly because they were adjustable) and some heavy duty clips... all of which I picked up at home depot for about $10-$15.  Depending on what you want to put into them, you can include actual cable handles (stirrup handles) instead of the rope and pipe method.  The below youtube video may provide a better visual:

So far they work really well and I haven't had a face plant... yet.  I don't perform all the exercises advertised, but there is nothing like the suspended pushups for a good stability (core) chest workout!  Enjoy!

Suspended Push-ups

Suspended Rows

  (click here for more exercise examples)


USA (Universal Strength Apparatus)

The only drawback that I have with the blast straps, or any of the other adjustable suspension straps, is the need to adjust them.  This can slow things down when working with multiple people and I have actually made multiple sets of blast straps just because of this.  I first saw the USA on the website.

As you can see from the picture, the USA has a series of rungs like a mini ladder.  This allows you to rapidly switch positions, level, and resistance simply by grabbing a different rung of the ladder.  A very simple yet practical solution to my biggest complaint.  The USA handles are designed to rotate freely which allows for less friction on the skin, yet forcing fingers, wrists and forearms to work harder than on a stabilized bar. The unique design of the USA also allows for it to be used in a non-suspended manner for both isometric and resisted exercises as you fight your own body force. 
There are certain advantages to the USA versus the competition:
  • The USA can be climbed!  Climbing this thing w/o using your feet (you can put your feet behind you or in front of you while climbing) is a really great exercise.  Just start on your butt and grab rung after rung. When two USA apparatuses are attached to one another in series you get a total length of about 16 feet and 24 steps. That's a lot of climbing fun!
  • No adjustments necessary. Beginners can do exercises (ie. pushups) starting with higher rungs on the ladder. As strength builds you can start going to lower rungs to make the exercise harder. All positions (Easy/Moderate/Hard) are readily available w/o any need for adjustment. BIG plus.
  • With a novice client, most are unable to do chinups or a pullups. The USA allows them to utilize leg assistance while pulling up on the higher rungs or a bar the USA is attached to. They can control how much leg assistance they want.
  • Like rings, the USA is portable and anything that can be done on rings can be done using the USA.
  • You can do Isometric training with the USA. 
I recently received a response to my monthly newletter from a fellow do-it-yourselfer, Ken Kenton, regarding his DIY version of the USA.  He used chain for his USA rather than straps or rope.  You can tell that this design is going to last for quite some time compared to the original design! 

I especially like the way that he used the C couplings at each of the rung connections to join the 3 ends of the chain.  Chain does require a bolt cutter or similar tool to cut into pieces, but it is far superior in durability to the rope and straps.


While very durable, Ken estimated the construction costs of his chain USA at around $100 for the pair, which really isn't too bad considering that my pair of USA originals ran about $80 + shipping.  Great job Ken!



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