Benefits of TRX Training

by glenn on June 27, 2011

What is the TRX Suspension Trainer, and why should you care?  The TRX ( ) is an entire gym in a bag, a set of non-stretch straps that can be hung from a door in your apartment, your gym’s pull-up bar or Smith machine bar, or a swing set bar outside, allowing you to work your chest, back, arms, legs, and abs.  The TRX, invented by a Navy Seal, looks similar to gymnastics rings; however, the TRX has padded handles and foot cradles, which allow you to do a much wider variety of exercises.  The TRX weighs next to nothing and is small enough to fit in your gym bag, purse, or briefcase.  Training with the TRX has several unique benefits over other types of fitness equipment.


Unlike most machine exercises, many TRX exercises are in 3D.  Most gym machines are in the sagittal plane, which means you only move forward and back (bicep curl machine, a leg extension machine, a treadmill).  In real life, your body moves in all three planes: forward and back, side to side (frontal plane), and rotation (transverse plane).  Because the TRX allows you complete freedom of movement, you can do BOTH traditional strength training/single-plane movements AND multi-planar/3D functional training.


It’s time to lose the fear of bulking up and gain slim, firm, toned muscles!  Many women are doing cardio-only workouts, or using weights too light to do any good, because they are afraid of big, bulky muscles.   The TRX allows you to build tremendous strength and power without ever bulking up, no matter what number of reps per set you do, and regardless of whether you do TRX by itself or in addition to traditional cardio.  Check out Rachel Cosgrove’s book The Female Body Breakthrough for scientific research on strength training for women.  The book also has numerous real life stories (with non-photo-shopped pictures) of women who are using strength training to lose weight, and who have not bulked up in the slightest.


I know many of you guys out there want to build muscle.  But guess what? If you don’t burn the fat that’s covering your muscles, you will never see them.  TRX lets you chisel away the fat to reveal the muscle definition you already have in your arms, chest, and abs, all without lots of added cardio.  “But wait,” you say, “guys NEED dumbbells to build muscle.”   Not so—dumbbells are just one of many great tools to build muscle.  The TRX is effective for stand-alone strength training when you don’t have access to DBs, such as when traveling.  However, using the TRX does NOT mean you need to give up the iron!  TRX makes a great addition to DB and barbell strength training.  Check out the book Abs Revealed, which is packed with color photos of each exercise.  The models have great muscle definition, but they’re regular guys, not bodybuilders.  The author, men’s fitness expert Jonathan Ross, two-time personal trainer of the year, shows you how to combine the TRX with traditional equipment to “reveal” the muscles you’ve never seen (but have always been there).

Having worked as a personal trainer for over 5 years, I have observed that the biggest missing component in most men’s (and some women’s) training programs is flexibility.  The TRX is not just for strength training – it also allows you to do a full-body stretch.  While you can use the TRX with a mat for some flexibility moves, there are many TRX stretches for which you don’t even need a mat!  Many men who swear they hate stretching have found that with the TRX, they can finally get the flexibility gains they need to support their strength workouts.


I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hype in the fitness industry.  I’m not going to tell you that the TRX is “the only piece of equipment you’ll ever need” or that TRX is “the best piece of equipment on the market” or any other such nonsense.  Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, stability balls, and jump ropes, for example, are all just as beneficial, and just as proven to help you reach your goals as the TRX.  The best workout for you is the one you will actually do!  But if you’re tired of the usual weights and machines and want something different and fun, TRX is for you.  If you’re sick of stuffy indoor air, and want to take your workout outside, TRX is a great option.  If you want to work out indoors, and have next to no space in your apartment, TRX is the solution.  If you’re bored to death with crunches that get you no results, and want functional training for your entire core, TRX is a worthwhile tool that allows you to do dozens of exercises for your abs, obliques, and deeper core muscles.


A new TRX sells for around $200, or you can check Craigslist for an even less expensive used TRX.  Wherever you buy it, be sure to buy the Door Anchor.  The TRX by itself is only equipped to be hung on a bar (at your gym or park); the Door Anchor is usually sold separately.  Even if you think you will mostly be using your TRX outdoors, it is really worth a few extra dollars to have the option of using it inside on a rainy day or in a hotel room.  Don’t want to pay for a TRX?  You can connect with a personal trainer who will bring their TRX to you.  If you compare the cost of the TRX to getting a TRX without even purchasing one, it’s like getting the first two sessions with your trainer for free!  You can search Neighborhood Trainers for certified fitness professionals in your area, and then read through the profiles to find a trainer who has a specialty certification from TRX/Fitness Anywhere.

Still not sure the TRX is worth your time?  Think it sounds kind of cool, but can’t quite visualize how it would work for you?  Visit the TRX Video Library.  While the makers of TRX do have some DVDs for sale, everything in the TRX Video Library is free.  Although there are a few testimonials, you can skip them and go straight to the free videos that actually teach you how to do the TRX exercises by clicking the tabs that say “Upper Body,” “Lower Body,” and “Core.”  If you already have a TRX (or can borrow a friend’s), you can work out right along with the free videos.

Lisa Snow is an ACE, NSCA-CPT, and NPTI certified personal trainer and boot camp instructor who is also certified to teach TRX to groups and 1-on-1.



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