The T2 Iso-Trainer is one of the most unique and innovative pieces of training equipment I've had a chance to test out and review.
If you workout at home and don't have much space, or if you travel a lot and need something compact that you can bring with you when on the road, the T2 Iso-Trainer is a perfect fit for you.
This video rundown will give you the full scoop on how the T2 works and what you can do with it.
Definitely check out the T2 Iso-Trainer site for more info on how it works and what you can do with it...I only just scratched the surface here!
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What is the T2 Iso-Trainer?
The T2 looks like a lot like a suspension trainer, in terms of the parts, however there is a LOT more to it than that. It incorporates a variety of different training modalities into the overall design, particularly Iso-Kinetic Training (more on that below).
The key part of the T2 is the resistance housing...it has no moving parts and it's what allows you to perform iso-kinetic movements (constant speed movements) with the setup. Iso-kinetic training is excellent for muscle activation and the T2 is unique in how it allows you to change resistance and speed on the fly, just by adjusting how you're using it.
The T2 company refers to this concept as "Body Fight"...you're basically using the other limb to provide resistance during a movement. For example, if you're doing a row, you'll be pulling with one arm while resisting the pull with the other arm.
I'll show you a demo of that in the video and pics below.
Here's a close-up of the resistance housing.
You'll need to anchor one end of the T2 to something solid. This can be a post or a power rack (like I did) or just about anything that isn't going anywhere.
This is the door stop anchor point.
This is the post anchor point...loop it around then pull the steel circle through the loop like how you attach a band to a post.
It also comes with a short length of elastic, which you can incorporate into many of the exercises. It's not used for all exercises but it serves a number of functions when training with the T2.
What Can You Do With The T2 Iso-Trainer?
A lot...and by a lot, I mean a LOT.
It's one of the most versatile pieces of training equipment that I've ever used. In the video above, you'll see a variety of the exercises I did with it during testing...and that's really barely even scratching the surface of what you can do with it. I'll run through these in pictures here, too.
Because you can do so much with it, it does have a bit of a learning curve to it, both in setup and in exercise performance. So definitely plan on spending some time getting familiar with it before jumping into a workout.
Here's a demonstration of the row. You can see that I've got one arm forward and one arm back. As I row my right arm back, I'm resisting with the other arm...fighting it (i.e. "body fight").
The resistance housing essentially gives you a point to create friction against while you're performing the exercise.
You can also use this body fight mechanism for the chest. I prefer a high anchor point for this, with the straps coming over top of the arms. You can adjust the resistance by going more horizontal and suspending more of your bodyweight.
This is how to do a curl...you're resisting with one arm while curling with the other. You can make this as hard or as easy as you like!
The setup for squats and lunges is a bit different. Instead of holding onto both handles, you'll loop one handle around your waist then use your hands on the other handle to offer resistance.
So open one handle and step through the loop.
Set it around your waist.
Step your feet into the anchor strap (instead of having it attached to something). Hold the other handle in your hands.
Now squat down, bringing your hands up into a front raise at the same time.
Now stand up, using your shoulders to resist the squat.
You'll find when using this for squats, it's not going to be effective for high-intensity strength training. Your shoulders just can't supply enough resistance to make the exercise get anywhere squat strength capacity, especially out of the bottom.
That being said, it definitely does provide some resistance, more appropriate for conditioning work and higher reps.
You''ll use a similar setup for reverse lunges, only with one foot through the anchor loop. You'll need to make that foot anchor loop smaller to do these effectively.
You won't be able to do regular "step forward" lunges with the T2 as you need to keep your front leg on the anchor strap during the exercise. I find reverse lunges to be a better exercise, anyway.
In this next picture, I've added the bungee section to the T2. This allows you adjust the amount of tension by stepping back further and stretching the elastic. It also allows you more freedom of movement for more dynamic exercises (not pictured).
One method I also found very effective was attaching the T2 to a low pulley then doing "body fight" rows while keeping the weight stack suspended.
This gives you constant tension during the dynamic tension of the row.
You can also attach to the high pulley and do something similar with a pulldown movement. If I had a higher high pulley, I would get the angle more vertical.
You can also do these by holding the stack in place and one hand in place, then just pulling on one handle to do a one-arm movement.
You can also perform shoulder presses by resisting with the bicep of the other arm.
As long as you have an antagonistic muscle to resist the movement, you can perform exercises for just about any muscle group.
You can also do straight-up suspension training withou using the iso-kinetic concept.
This really opens up a whole world of possibilities, including combining suspension training with "body fight" mechanics during the same movement (e.g. row, then bodyfight during the row).
Are There Any Drawbacks With the T2 Iso-Trainer?
There are a few things to take into account with the T2 Iso-Trainer.
1. The Learning Curve
The T2 is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment and I'm not ashamed to say I had to read the instructions a number of times before I got the setup right.
Once I DID get a handle on the setup and I understood the mechanics of how it worked, how to use and how to adjust it, I was off the races.
The more I used it, the more I was impressed with how much I could actually do with it...bodyweight, suspension, iso-kinetic, resistance, band resistance, combining with cable training...I had to cap the video because it was starting to get too long!
2. The Handles Are a Bit Too Bendy For My Taste
I found when I was doing exercises that involved a high level of resistance, the handles would bend a lot, making the grip a bit awkward. Definitely not a dealbreaker, but something that did affect my grip to some degree.
I would have preferred a stiffer plastic on the handle
3. It's Not Great For Strength Sport Training Such as Powerlifting
Because, being honest, that's not what it's for.
If your goal is to build a stronger squat, this is not the tool for the job.
The T2 Iso-Trainer is more appropriate for (and excels at) bodyweight type training, tension-focused training and conditioning work.
That being said, if you ARE training for strength sports and you find yourself witihout access to equipment, the T2 can absolutely help you maintain your strength and conditioning levels.
Those three things are really the only criticisms I have of the T2 Iso-Trainer.
It's built very strong (350 lb capacity) and I had no qualms about putting my entire bodyweight on it (about 200 lbs in the picture below, which shows me standing on the handles with pretty much all my bodyweight bearing down on it).
The T2 Iso-Trainer really takes versatility to a whole new level. You will be able to do so many different types of training that it may actually be a bit overwhelming to start with.
I recommend you take some time to get familiar with the setup, then work on just a few key exercises first. Get good at those and proficient with the setup, then you can expand your repertoire and really take full advantage of what this excellent piece of equipment has to offer.
You can use this at home gym, bring it along while travelling, or use at the gym. The applications are only limited by your imagination. The T2 website also offers a ton of exercise instruction options, incluing an app you can download to your smartphone.
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