The surprisingly fun Redcord suspension system uses slings and loops in its challenging exercises.
I PUT ONE FOOT in the sling and slowly let my foot swing forward. I wasn’t sure this was a good idea, but trainer Todd Herriott said it would stretch out my hip flexors, so I gave it a whirl.
He pointed at my front knee, had me bend deeper and play with releasing my hands from the cords connected to the sling. I followed his instructions; it wasn’t as scary as I thought, though I would not call it stable. My body was working hard to stay in the lunge, and my hip felt a good stretch. I also turned sideways and did a similar swing, this time challenging my outer hips. By this point, it was fun swinging out and back.
I went to Herriott to try a suspension system called Redcord. Similar to the ubiquitous TRX, it’s a suspension system that challenges your body’s stability. Redcord uses slings as well as loops for handles, and it also has a gadget called an axis for rotational movements.
Herriott, who trains a lot of cyclists, likes to focus on the back of the body — glutes, hamstrings and trunk strength. After the warm-up lunges and sideways opening stretches, we moved to the floor. I lay on my back, put one leg in the sling, extended it straight, and lifted my other leg off the floor to the same height to activate my glutes. It’s as hard as it sounds. Herriott watched my form, and noted if I rotated to one side or the other.
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He also had me do a similar exercise to strengthen my inner thighs. I lay down on one side, put my upper leg in the sling, and lifted the other leg up to meet it. It looked sort of like a side plank in yoga and felt nothing like it. My thighs were screaming with the intensity — now I know where I need to work. I started to sweat.
We also did a more traditional side plank for shoulder stability, balancing on my elbow on the floor with my feet in the sling. I put both feet in the slings for plank variations including piking my hips ups over my shoulders, swinging my feet side to side and walking forward and back on my elbows.
We switched to ring rows, grabbing the handles and leaning back. Herriott told me to add an extra challenge by lifting one foot, and I laughed as I swung helplessly side to side. He also had me work on using my legs rather than my upper body to come back up to a balanced starting position.
Herriott added the axis, which is a bar with two handles attached to a pulley. I leaned back for more ring rows, this time using one arm at a time.
I also did stability push-ups on the axis, which forced my arms to stabilize to stay in place for the push-ups. I also unsuccessfully tried to work my shoulders by moving the handles up and down in a push-up position.
Herriott mixed up the workout between lower body, core and upper body, to my relief. We didn’t rush any of the moves, to make sure my form stayed strong throughout, but the exercises all tested me.
Suspension workouts can be as hard as you want them to be. You start simply, and once you get the hang of exercises, Herriott says there is challenge for everyone.
I’m always interested in new ways to improve stability and ways my body can move. Redcord took it to a new, and surprisingly fun, level of intensity and play.