Friday, April 28, 2017

Horribly Overdue Blog Post and Horribly Overdue Product Review: The Hook!

Yes, fans, it's been far too long since I've posted anything but I've got some blog entries cued up and ready to fire off.  Sorry about the Drought and I hope that you enjoy this one...
I'm sure that most people who ever write reviews of equipment do mere weeks after they receive said equipment, brand new, generally un-abused and not touched by the ravages of time.  That might be a mistake. I can't speak for the rest of the shaved apes reading my blog but I would have to plead guilty to falling victim to being easily excited by new items in the mail and the novelty of something fresh to play with in the gym.  No, it's probably better wait a few years to thoroughly use, and possibly abuse, the item in question to see if it will hold up and does its features add to training in a positive manner.

Well, the second part is easily proven correct.  Suspension trainers seemed to have taken off since the advent of the marvelously overpriced TRX was birthed on the world almost a decade ago.  In terms of sheer versatility to money spent on a piece of equipment, it's easy to justify the expenditure of plata on a suspension rig.  If you're into general purpose, upper body strength training, you could be set for life with this.

So, the Hook, like other suspension rigs, doesn't need to prove that it's worth the money in terms of sheer utility.  What it does need to do is prove it's durability, features, and price put it above the other suspension rigs.  After four years of playing with it, and other suspension rigs, I can verify that it does and that it's better than the others.

I promise that I do more with these than just curls.  

The Hook is a project of a semi-retired internet-aquaintance by the name Bruce Tackett.  The handles were primarily designed to be used with bands (which he sells) but he eventually branched out to include an Isometric Strap and also some squat harnesses,  He also sells a door attachment to use all of these on.  While I have played with them using bands, my REAL interest was using them for bodyweight movements.  So, my Hook accessories have been used with my body (which in the past several years has varied between 185 lbs and 215 lbs) dangled off of them in some manner.

What this bodyweight suspension rig has all over all other competitors is it's sheer simplicity.  The Iso Strap is simply a piece of webbing with loops double stitched into it at roughly 6" increments.  The Hook handles simply hook through the loops and away you go.  This makes it far more secure most of the other suspension rigs that use some sort of mechanical locking mechanism to adjust the fixed handles.  I've had several of these locks slip on me while using them.

Plus, there is no guess work with the positioning of the handles and if you're accidentally going to put yourself at an easier angle to train at. This is particularly helpful when I train one arm rows and one-arm pull-up training work.

What Have I Used The Hook For?
 Initially, I bought the Hook, door attachment and Iso-Strap for Bodyweight movements.  After all, this was what my main training modality was back in 2012 when I bought it.  The majority of the training movements were Pull-ups, Dips, One and two arm push-ups, One and two arm (mostly one) rowing, and chest flyes.   My use of this rig dramatically increased when I tore my ACL.  I do have to note that my handles that I currently have were not the original ones I bought.  I did break one of them while doing dips a few days before my surgery.  Bruce was unquestionably apologetic, aghast, and promptly sent me an updated, new design handle that I've had ever since.  Even after surgery, I was heavily restricted with my lower body movements and so I still trained mostly upper body, and largely with the Hook.

Eventually, I recovered from the whole ACL ordeal and I was frankly so fed up with training so much with this instrument that I stopped using it as a primary training tool.  Plus, I started training at a gym where I got into strongman so I trained far less at home.  I still used it once or twice a week when I didn't make it out of work on time but it was far from the primary training tool.  I also took it along and used it when I traveled by airplane and used it in hotels.
My pressing accessory work on Wendesdays

Fast forward to this past summer.  I ended up having lunch with my friend Jamie and he strongly suggested that I take up using it but more for bodybuilding style isolation movements as an accessory to my main lifting.  This had never crossed my mind before and since he's just as stupid fucking strong as he is smart as all hell, I listened.  The Hook became my primary tool for arm training ( tricep kickbacks and curls) as well as upper body accessory work (forward and reverse flyes, plus shoulder pressing).  Since the Hook and the Iso-strap laughed off the staggered grip pull-ups and one arm bodyweight moves, this was no issue.  The latest movement I've started using the Hook handles for is chain pressing.  Using a 65 lbs chain, I hook the Hook through a link and press the chain for reps as an accessory for my circus dumbell work.  It sure beats a mechanical lock on a strap that slips while you're working out.  That's just dangerous.

There has been damage. The Hook is structurally sound and still usable, don't get me wrong.  I have, however, torn the edge of the padding on the handle with the chain press and the hooks have a plastic hose to cover the U-bolt that forms the hook itsself.  It is worth noting that these were designed to be used with some bands, isometrics, and some bodyweight work.  I'm clearly pushing the limits of what this thing was designed to do with all bodyweight, no bands, no isometrics and now chain lifts.

Then, we have to talk cost.  To set yourself up with what I've got will put you back around $100.00. That's quite a bit below the cost of even the most basic TRX.  Plus it's a superior system anyway with more versatility than the others.  This is that one time you're well-suited to support the little guy and get in touch with Sierra Exercise Equipment if you are in the market for a suspension rig.


Bruce said...

Thank you for such a nice review, Justin!

sherm said...

A while ago I came up with a DIY suspension rig that would cost about $20. Kind of thing you can take with you and even mount it on a tree in the woods. If curious -