Who would think that some straps with handles could cause so much pain (of the good kind) and strain? Well the TRX Suspension Training System does that and more!
Invented by a retired Navy Seal, the TRX consists of a long strap with a cushioned handle at each end. The strap is needled through a closed loop strap where one end is used to wrap around anything to position the overall TRX and the other end where the loop is located is called the pendulum and is the pivot point for all the exercises performed.
The lengths of the straps that contain the handles are adjusted long or short using cam buckles. The lengths of the straps is determined based on the height of the individual, the exercise being performed and the resistance you use on that exercise.
Story goes that the ex Navy Seal wanted to find another way to train in the field other than using resistance bands since bands tend to weather easily, especially in rough climates, and quickly break.
The logic behind the TRX is that your body is the machine, you are just using the straps to position your body to perform a workout. And make no mistake about it, the TRX can and will work out the entire body with as little or as much resistance as possible by just using your bodyweight. It is the ultimate go anywhere exercise apparatus that fits in a small bag!
When I first saw someone use a TRX I laughed saying ‘how hard can it possibly be using an apparatus that is nothing more than a strap with handles?’
After trying it out a few times I realized that the effectiveness of the TRX is directly attributed to its simplicity. Regardless of exercise performed, since it functions across the three planes of motion, it requires a great amount of core strength, flexibility and especially balance. This equates to more muscle fibers being used on each exercise to stabilize the body.
Although the TRX can be used to train every body part, I found it particularly useful for training abs, legs and shoulders. Some critics say that the instability of the straps lends itself to injuries of the joints, back or core but they obviously, in my opinion, have not bothered training with it.
Every exercise has a beginner to extremely advanced stage of performing it which diminishes or eliminates critics concerns.
My favorite uses for the TRX are core and legs. For abs, your only limitation is your imagination because you can perform so many different variations of the same movement since this is three dimensional training. No two sets can be the same if you don’t want them to be. How cool is that for training core!
One legged squats are absolutely amazing plus safe on the back. I have had back surgery and have bad knees and I primarily do one legged TRX squats with dumbbells as my primary leg exercise. I have gotten more size and definition in my legs than any other leg exercise I have ever performed.
There are two ways you can use the TRX and both have a purpose and are effective.
The first is the old fashion way, just counting reps for each set and doing a certain number of sets.
The other, which I like because it hits cardio more, is doing a set using active-rest periods. Where you perform the exercise for a set number of seconds (active) then stop for a set number of seconds (rest). Each active-rest period is considered a set. So as you continue this routine, the goal is to increase the number of reps performed within the active period for the time allotted.
Once this is accomplished, you can make it more difficult by either increasing the number of seconds for the active period, or decreasing the number of seconds for the rest period. Or you can do both! As you can see, the options are limitless and the results outstanding.
For example, with legs, I have gotten to the point where I would perform five sets of active-rest consisting of 45 seconds of active with only 20 seconds of rest. By your fifth set you are maxed out!
One last thing I would like to say about the TRX, is that because it is straps and you can accommodate the resistance based on the angle and position of your body, it is more passive on the joints than using free weights.
Another added benefit which is vital as one gets older is the amount of balance and flexibility one can achieve using the TRX. As people age one of the things they lose is sense of balance and flexibility. This system is a wonderful way to not only maintain these two vital functions, but also to strengthen them.
Finally, since it can be folded up and placed into a small bag, you can take the TRX with you on business trips, vacations, etc. The gym is always with you. I have used it at the beach, parks and hotel rooms. All you need is a place to wrap the upper strap around and you are ready to go!
Overall, I highly recommend the TRX. I use it myself several times a week and I use it with my clients so they can be…..Fit Forlife!