The first time I set foot in a TRX class, I felt confident (and maybe even a bit cocky), about sweating it out for a 45-minute class. After all, I’ve spent decades pumping iron, so how hard could a set of straps hanging from the ceiling really be. Well, about 10 minutes in, my muscles were shaking, my core was on fire, and we were just finishing the warm-up. The instructor, who I desperately wished would have a bathroom emergency, reminded the class that a “full-body workout using a suspension trainer is a lot harder than it looks,” and I swear she was staring right at me.
Chris Frankel, TRX Head of Human Performance, says “Suspension Training leverages gravity and the users body weight, when at least one part of your body is on the ground and a percentage of your body weight is loaded onto the TRX Suspension Trainer, enabling hundreds of exercises, resulting in the ability to achieve a fast and effective total-body workout that improves mobility and flexibility, builds lean muscle and develops core stability and functional strength.” Born in the Navy SEALs, Suspension Training was invented by a former Navy SEAL Squadron Commander and TRX founder Randy Hetrick, who needed a piece of total-body fitness equipment to keep his fellow SEALs in shape and battle-ready while conduction missions overseas.
Ever since Suspension Training became available to the masses, the popularity of this mode of exercise has skyrocketed; mostly because it’s designed with all levels of fitness in mind. And whether you’re new to exercise or a fitness fanatic looking to add some variety to your training week, Suspension Training has a place in many workout programs. In fact, Frankel says users are in control of how much they want to challenge themselves on each exercise, because they can simply adjust body position (walk closer to or away from the anchor point) to add or decrease resistance and intensity.
Even though my first TRX class challenged every part of my body in ways I didn’t know were possible, I stuck with it, and returned the next week for another workout. And the next week and the next, until I finally ended up buying a TRX system for my house. I’ve been incorporating this style of functional training into my overall fitness program for the past two years and have discovered how easy (and beneficial) it is to mix things up with the TRX Suspension Trainer.
In fact, whether you’re a dedicated gym rat, like myself, and use it to complement your strength training workouts or a distance runner who makes it the main form of resistance training for your overall fitness, the countless exercises available, will help you attack your core, increase mobility and flexibility, and build strength. Frankel says that “using your TRX work as accessory exercises or as a stand-alone strength training modality will increase your results by addressing stabilizer and synergistic muscles.”
If you’re looking for a way to get a killer total body workout in without jumping back and forth between weight equipment and dumbbells, then you might want to give Suspension Training a try. Made for indoor and outdoor use, the portability of this workout system allows users to secure the straps to a sturdy structure in their house, or take their training outside and throw it over a tree branch, chain link fence, or even the monkey bars at your kids favorite playground. And the best part: Frankel says the TRX system weighs less than two pounds, fits into any travel bag and takes less than 30 seconds to set up. Quick and easy is always a bonus when it comes to committing to an exercise program.
The following workout designed by Frankel, will help you hit the major muscles of your body and increases your heart rate, all in one efficient workout.
1. TRX Overhead Squat (Adjustment: Mid-Length, Position: Stand Facing)
•Back of hand positioned in the foot cradles, extend arms overhead, feet hip width apart
•Press into foot cradles with hands, lower hips down and back, keep weight in heels
•Drive through heels, squeeze glutes, keep arms extended to return to start
2. TRX Push-Up (Adjustment: Mid-Calf, Position: Ground Facing Away)
•Feet positioned in foot cradles, engage core, lift body into a hand plank position
•Bending elbows to 90 degrees, maintain plank, lower body down
•Drive through palms while squeezing chest, maintain plank return to start
3. TRX Triceps Press (Adjustment: Fully Lengthened, Position: Stand Facing Away)
•Holding on to handles, extend arms in front of shoulders, palms down
•Maintain lengthened spine, lower body by bending at the elbow until arms are flexed bringing the hands to side of head
•Extend at elbow, upper arm remains still returning to start position
4. TRX Crunch (Adjustment: Mid-Calf, Position: Ground Facing Away)
•From a hand plank position, toes in the foot cradles
•Engage core, raise hips and bring knees toward chest
•Slowly extend legs back toward anchor point in a strong plank position
5. TRX Inverted Row (Adjustment: Fully Shortened, Position: Stand Facing)
•Hold TRX handles directly under the anchor point with straight arms and straight legs.
•Knees bent to 90 degrees, shoulders positioned lower than hips, back should not touch floor
•Drive elbows behind body pulling your chest to your hands, maintain plank.
•Extend arms to lower your body keeping shoulders pulled down and back.
6. TRX Pike (Adjustment: Mid-Calf, Position: Ground Facing Away)
•Toes positioned in foot cradles, from a hand plank position
•Hinge at hips and drive butt to ceiling, while keeping torso straight.
•Keep body tight and engaged, lower to hand plank position.
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness and wellness.