If you’re looking for a fun, new workout to add to your home gym that doesn’t require heavy weights or kettlebells, give TRX training a try. Combining the best of bodyweight and suspension training, TRX is a great way to shake up your fitness routine, build lean muscle and keep your body guessing. If curious about TRX suspension trainers and want to learn more, then here’s the information that will help make your decision. We’ll discuss what exactly TRX workouts are and how they can benefit you.
What is TRX Training?
TRX stands for “total resistance exercise.” It is a form of suspension training that utilizes your own body weight to build muscle and increase strength and flexibility. In TRX workouts, you use heavy-duty resistance straps, usually hung from the ceiling, wall or doorway, with padded loops and foot cradles for your hands or feet to perform exercises such as pull-ups, pushups, squats, lunges and planks. Simple adjustments in your position increase or decrease resistance, so there’s no need to add extra weight.
For instance, you can do inverted rows by holding the handles and leaning back, leaving your feet on the floor. You can make the rows easier or harder by changing the foot placement so the angle of your body will be what adds resistance.
Because the TRX suspension trainer is lightweight and easy to transport, it’s a great choice for those who want a dependable way to do resistance training on the road or at home. Many commercial gyms have TRX suspension setups as well.
Where Did TRX Come From?
This innovative training system was invented by a Navy Seal named Randy Hetrick. When Hetrick was still in the Navy in the 1990s, he designed the first TRX system. Initially, he used it to help other soldiers stay fit while out in the field using their own body weight. The suspension systems weighed around two pounds each, and they were easy for soldiers to fold up and carry.
Eventually, Hetrick realized that people outside of the military could benefit from TRX suspension trainers and this new fitness method. In 2005, he started marketing it to the general public. It quickly became popular, and the rest is history.
How Does TRX Training Work?
Like other types of bodyweight exercises, TRX is a form of functional fitness training. That means that it involves multiple muscle groups at a time. When you’re training with a TRX system, your body is constantly in a state of instability. Consequently, you need to engage your core (and often other muscle groups) during each exercise. This added challenge also strengthens your neuromuscular response when you adjust your position to find stability and balance. As you maximize this response, you’ll get more out of your workout and see improvements in balance, strength, and general fitness.
Most forms of resistance training focus primarily on developing strength. With TRX training, each movement helps you improve mobility and balance along with strength. Though the suspension trainer looks simple, you can use it for a wide range of workouts targeting each muscle group in the body.
There are six main positions used in TRX. Here’s a quick rundown, along with a few exercises typically used for each position:
- On the ground while facing the anchor point (GF): hamstring curls
- On the ground while facing away from the anchor point (GFA): most types of planks
- On the ground while facing sideways relative to the anchor point (GSW): side planks and some rotation exercises
- Standing while facing the anchor point (SF): most pulling exercises, squats, some rotation and hinge exercises
- Standing while facing away from the anchor point (SFA): push exercises (presses), lunges, some rotational exercises
- Standing while facing sideways relative to the anchor point (SSW): some rotational and pulling exercises
If you’re accustomed to traditional weight training, you might be skeptical. Can a simple set of straps really help you improve strength and mobility? One study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found similar strength and muscle adaptations in people who used TRX training in their fitness routine and those focused on traditional weight training.
A lot of lifters emphasize strength and muscle hypertrophy over mobility. But when your mobility is poor, you’re more likely to experience joint pain and injury. Even if you aren’t too worried about that, you should know that better mobility will also help you lift more weight and improve muscle hypertrophy.
You don’t have to abandon traditional weight training to benefit from TRX. Even including a TRX training session once or twice a week will improve your mobility and functional fitness. Similarly, if you’re someone who primarily does cardio or yoga, TRX will help you correct strength imbalances, improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
Now you’ve got a general overview of TRX training and how it works. But there are more benefits to this type of suspension training than you might think:
It’s Strength and Cardio Training
If you’ve ever done circuit training, you know just how challenging the mix of cardio and strength training can be. Since you can adjust the speed of any TRX exercise you do, you can get the benefits of cardio and strength training in one workout.
Since you’re using one system to train, you can easily superset exercises as well. For instance, you might do a set of squats, then a plank, then back to squats, etc.
Portable and Can Be Used Almost Anywhere
TRX is portable and light enough to use in a home gym, backyard, or when you’re traveling. You can set up in any space with a solid anchor for your TRX that can support your body weight like a basement support beam, door jam, tree branch, fence post, deck railing, or even a clothesline pole.
Suitable for Any Fitness Level
TRX is one of the most adaptable systems out there. With a few simple adjustments, you can make the same exercise easy for a beginner or seniors and challenging for a long-time fitness devotee. Sometimes, modifying a workout is intuitive. If it isn’t, a personal trainer or even an online tutorial can give you some ideas.
It’s Low-Impact and Safe
If you’re healing an injury or just want a training method that won’t overstress your joints, TRX is a great choice. Since you are using gravity and your own weight for resistance training, you are more in control of your workout load. You’re also avoiding the repeated impact of some training methods like running.
Great Way to Cross-Train
We mentioned earlier that TRX is a form of functional training, so it’s a great way to improve full-body strength, stability, and athleticism. However, you can also use it to cross-train for specific sports. By focusing on certain exercises, you can train to improve specific movements like these:
- Running (learn more about how runners can use TRX)
- Swinging a golf club
- Swinging a baseball bat
- High jumping
- Kicking a ball
- Shooting a basketball
- Yoga poses
Ideal for Functional Fitness
TRX training is an excellent way to improve functional core fitness by targeting multiple muscle groups and movement patterns at the same time, helping you develop strength and mobility that will carry over into everyday life, which makes TRX for seniors so ideal. It’s more than just lifting weights; it’s about improving balance, coordination, core stability, and agility.
Deepen Calisthenics Skills
TRX training is also a great way to improve your calisthenics skills. TRX straps can be used much like Olympic rings to provide resistance and stability, allowing you to perform more advanced workouts like pull-ups and leg raises that would be difficult or impossible without them. By using the TRX suspension trainer for assistance, you can gradually build strength and increase the difficulty of these routines until you’re able to do the calisthenic exercises without any help.
Incorporate with Yoga to Try Challenging Poses
If there is a particular yoga pose that you just quite can’t get, a TRX suspension trainer can help you by providing extra support, stability, and resistance. The suspension trainer can act as a spotter when trying difficult poses, like arm balances, inversions, or transitions from standing to seated poses, allowing you to practice with better form.
If you’re doing more core yoga, TRX can help you target specific areas and engage the body’s stabilizing muscles around the midsection. By strengthening core muscles, practitioners are able to move deeper into postures, increasing flexibility and range of motion. It can also open up a whole world of new core yoga strength poses that may have been difficult or even impossible to do before.
Improves Your Neuromuscular Development
Neuromuscular control is the process of using your brain to control muscle movement properly. This goes beyond thinking about lifting a dumbbell and then lifting it. When you have good neuromuscular control, your brain signals your stabilizing muscles to engage, reducing your risk of injury.
Because TRX training uses your whole body instead of isolating one muscle group, it helps your brain learn to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
What Kind of Exercises Can You Do With TRX
You can do just about any exercise with a TRX system. Here are a few beginner-friendly ones to get you started:
- Inverted row/TRX row. For this one, grasp the handles and face the suspension point. Lean back so your arms are extended. Then pull yourself forward toward the handles. The closer your body is to horizontal, the harder it becomes.
- Suspension Push-Up. Set up the suspension trainer so the handles are about eight inches from the floor or mid-calf. Place a foot in each foot cradle and do push-ups as you normally would.
- TRX Bicep Curl. Grasp the handles and lean back like you would for a row. Curl your biceps to pull your weight upward. Don’t forget to keep your elbows straight out from the shoulders to get the maximum benefit.
- Single-Leg Squats. Facing away from the anchor point, slide one foot into a handle so your shin is parallel to the floor. Do a set of lunges and then repeat with the other leg.
- Knee-to-Chest. Here’s an ab exercise you don’t see every day. Get into the push-up position. Instead of doing a push-up, pull your knees toward your chest, pause, and extend them again.
Want more leg work? Check out our post focused on TRX leg workouts.
TRX Tips for Beginners
Maybe you’re already in great shape but haven’t touched a TRX suspension trainer in your life. Or maybe you’re looking to get into fitness for the first time. Either way, these tips for TRX beginners should help.
- Understand How It Works: Before you get started, take some time to read about TRX and watch a few demonstrations. It’s hard to understand how to use a TRX system just by looking at it. When you understand what you’re doing, you’ll get more out of each workout. To get you started, a local gym might also offer TRX classes where a certified personal trainer or a TRX coach can also provide invaluable guidance for beginners on their fitness journey.
- Keep The Straps Under Tension: Time under tension is one of the most important factors when training any muscle group. When the straps are under tension, so is your body. The constant tension is one of the things that make TRX so effective, so make sure you maintain it.
- Emphasize Quality, Not Quantity: When you’re excited to be learning something new, it can be tempting to do as many reps as possible. But it’s critically important to master the right form and way to do each exercise. Learning it right the first time is a lot easier than having to correct a bad habit.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Get Started!: Embarking on a new fitness venture can be intimidating, but it’s well worth the effort. By taking the first step toward TRX training, you’ll be investing in your health and your future.
Add TRX to Your Home Gym
Spice up your home gym and add a new challenge to your fitness routine with the TRX. Low impact and incredibly effective, this revolutionary bodyweight program is your ticket to getting stronger while being kinder to your joints. From beginners to pros, this portable and versatile workout tool is designed to help you build strength, sharpen stability and maximize conditioning as far as you want. So try TRX today and make your workouts fun, challenging, and effective. With a little practice, you’ll unlock the power of core control and suspension strength training. Let the journey begin.