The TRX Suspension Trainer is a tool I often incorporate into my clients’ workouts. However, like I have said in the past, I think some people rely on the TRX too much. Your whole workout should not be based around the use of the TRX – it is merely just another tool in your toolbox.
The beauty of the TRX is that, because you are using and manipulating your own body weight, it can be used by people of all fitness levels. You can make each exercise more or less challenging based on how you shift your body’s position. For example, the more horizontal you are in a vertical row, the harder the exercise becomes.
The TRX requires you to work against gravity. You will activate your core muscles during each exercise, perhaps more so than you would during a typical weights workout. This is a much better form of instability training than using a Bosu ball!
I will include perhaps one TRX exercise per week in my own workouts, and the same if not more in my clients’ sessions. Below are my five favourite exercises:
I will often use the TRX to teach a client how to squat properly, as it trains you to sit backwards. It is also a great option for people who suffer knee or ankle pain during squats. Set the TRX at waist height. Start with your feet shoulder width apart, holding the rubber handles in front of your chest with a small amount of slack in the rope. Sit back into a parallel squat, keeping your knees in line with your toes, so the TRX pulls tight. Squeeze your glutes and push through your heels to return to a standing position.
To make this move more challenging, try performing it as a jump squat. It is also a great way to learn how to perform one-legged squats.
The best way to build up your back strength is by first mastering your own bodyweight. Inverted rows are a great stepping stone to chin ups and pull ups. Using a TRX rather than a barbell to perform inverted rows places constant pressure on your back muscles. Firmly grip the rubber handles and slowly step your feet forward until they are at a comfortable height. Use your back to pull yourself up, while thinking of bringing your chest between your hands. Hold for one second before slowly lowering to the starting position.
Beginners will start with their feet only slightly in front of them, while more advanced lifters will be able to lower themselves completely parallel to the floor as in the picture below (this is the approximate equivalent of completing one pull up). Once you have mastered this, you may then try placing your feet on a box or Swiss ball.
Push up into abdominal crunch
This is my personal favourite. Prepare to be humbled! Begin in a plank position with your feet in the loops. Brace your abdominals and keep your elbows tucked into your sides to complete one push up. Once you are back in the plank position, draw your knees in towards your chest and then straighten your legs. That’s one rep. Repeat until failure – which might be sooner than you think!
Performing a lunge with the TRX has the same feel as a regular Bulgarian split squat. For this exercise, interlock the two handles together and set the TRX at mid-calf height. Place one foot in the loop behind you. Your suspended foot should be flexed at the ankle, and your knee should also be bent and in line with the knee of your supporting leg.
Bend your supporting knee while pushing the hips back. Keep your body weight aligned over your standing leg, while allowing your other leg to drive backwards – keeping the knee bent throughout the exercise. Lower until your back knee is almost to the floor, just like a split squat. Push through your supporting heel to reverse the movement.
To help with balance, assume your arms in a running position, starting with the arm opposite to your suspended leg in front. As you lower into the bottom position, switch arms. For an extra challenge, add a jump to the top position of the lunge.
Inverted push up
One of my current training goals is to to be able to perform a handstand push up. Many people like the idea of being able to do this, but have no idea of how to train it without jumping straight into it – which usually leads to failure and even injury. Enter the TRX. Just like with the inverted row above, you can slightly increase the angle week to week as you progress.
Set the TRX at quad height behind you and place one foot in. Carefully lower yourself to the floor, extending your suspended leg backwards. Jump your other leg up to meet your supported foot. Your entire body should be in a straight line, upside down. Bend your elbows to lower your head towards the floor, before pushing up to an extended position. This exercise will firmly establish you as a badass in the gym!
Have you used the TRX before? What is your favourite TRX exercise?