Could your own bodyweight be the only weight needed to build strength and get a great workout? The TRX Suspension Trainer makes a strong case for “yes.” With two adjustable straps that can be hung from either a mounted bar or a door frame, this highly-portable piece of training equipment proves that nothing fancy is required for a tough workout. And since it relies on an individual’s bodyweight for resistance, exercises can be easily manipulated to suit a variety of fitness levels on the fly. To get your feet wet, here are eight TRX exercises to try in a quick circuit that will work the entire body.
Perform each exercise for 45 seconds. Exercises noted with an “A” or “B” should be performed back to back in a superset. Rest 15 seconds between exercises and repeat each superset twice. Then, take a minute break before moving to the next pair. For exercises that involve only one arm or leg, perform the entire first set with one side before switching to the other side the next time around.
1A. TRX Power Pull
Targets: Back, arms and core
This variation of a bodyweight row adds an element of power to the traditional upper back exercise. By working one arm at a time and spiraling the torso during the exercise, the single-arm row also works rotation helping to improve performance in sports that require twisting like baseball, golf and tennis.
How to: Start facing the pivot point holding onto a single TRX handle with your right hand (tutorial for adjusting the straps here). Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keep your left arm extended as you rotate your torso to your left side eventually forming a “T” shape with your arms. Powerfully drive your right elbow back in a rowing motion as you rotate your torso to face the TRX. End the motion reaching forward with your left hand before moving fluidly into the next repetition.
1B. TRX Sprinters Start
Sprinters are often known for their impressive display of lower body power and overall muscular physiques. This exercise mimics the starting position of a sprint to give participants a challenging mix of cardio, power and strength training in one move.
How to: Grab a strap in each hand and face away from the pivot point. Move forward until the straps are taut and hold them against your sides just above your elbow. Bring your right foot forward in a lunge stance with your heel flat on the ground. Your left foot should be balanced on your forefoot. Bend slightly forward at the torso being sure to keep your back flat. In one motion, push off from your right foot and explode forward (leaving the ground if possible) while driving your left knee up. Allow the TRX to pull you back into position before repeating on the same leg.
2A. TRX Chest Press to Standing Roll Out
Targets: Chest and core
This exercise builds on an old staple — the push-up — to provide an extra element of shoulder stability alongside some core training. Since the TRX straps move independently of one another, they force lifters to stabilize their arms using often-neglected muscles in their shoulders. The result: better shoulder stability and a tighter core in one exercise.
How to: Start with a handle in each hand facing away from the pivot point. Move your feet back so that you’re in push-up position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Keep your midsection pulled in tight as you slowly lower yourself into a push-up. Press yourself back to the starting position. Then, keeping your arms as straight as possible, reach straight overhead to elongate your body and force more of the work on your core. Pull your hands back to push-up position and repeat.
2B. TRX Single-Leg Squat
One main benefit of the TRX is that it allows users to perform challenging exercises with as much (or as little) assistance as necessary. The traditional single-leg squat can prove to be quite difficulty for many lifters. The TRX affords individuals the ability to use their arms for a little support increasing both their strength and balance.
How to: Place your right foot on the ground and hold onto the TRX handles with both hands. Start with your elbows bent by your sides and your left leg raised straight out in front of you. Push your hips back and descend into a squat with your right leg. As you descend, extend your arms and use the TRX straps for as much support as needed. At the bottom of the motion, press through your right heel to return to the starting point pulling on the TRX as necessary.
3A. TRX “T” Deltoid Fly
Targets: Back and core
Traditional shoulder flies force lifters into a bent-over position, which can be uncomfortable at the end of a long session. The TRX “T” Deltoid Fly exercise targets the back of the shoulders with the same flying motion but in a standing position utilizing bodyweight for resistance. By either keeping your elbows straight (harder) or bending them slightly (easier), this exercise can easily be modified throughout the set to completely fatigue the upper back and shoulders.
How to: Start with a staggered stance facing the pivot point with your right foot a few inches in front of your left facing the pivot point. Your right foot should be flat on the floor, and your left foot should be balanced on the ball of the foot. Grab the straps in each hand. Start with both hands together straight in front of you and your weight centered on your left foot. Keeping your arms as straight as possible, pull against the TRX and fly your arms out into a “T” position (straight out to your sides). As you get towards the end of the movement, your weight should transfer onto your right foot. Slowly lower yourself before repeating.
3B. TRX Suspended Lunge
Targets: Legs and core
The foot-elevated lunge is a powerful exercise for developing strength and stability throughout the hips and lower body. Using the TRX increases the balance challenge of the exercise and helps to target the hip stabilizers (translation: better balance, stability and coordination). For an extra challenge (and to really torch your legs), try adding in a small hop at the top of each rep!
How to: Start by placing your right foot in a TRX strap and facing away from the pivot point. Plant your left foot firmly on the ground. Keeping your chest up tall, slowly push your right foot back towards the pivot point and bend your left knee to descend into a lunge. Push back up with your left foot to return to the starting position.
4A. TRX Bicep Curl
No workout would be complete without a little work on the cannons. Fortunately, the TRX Bicep Curl engages more than just the biceps. By forcing the body to maintain a straight alignment, this exercise helps to work the stabilizers in the hips and midsection turning this favorite into more of a total-body workout.
How to: Stand with both feet together facing the pivot point. Grab a TRX strap in each hand and rotate your hands so that your palms are facing upwards. Keeping your elbows up high, drive your hands to your forehead effectively performing a bicep curl. Slowly lower to the starting position.
4B. TRX Hamstring Curl
Targets: Legs and core
If you’re searching for a way to torch your hamstrings and glutes, look no further. The TRX Hamstring Curl puts an intense strain on the entire backside — not just the hammies. After mastering the starting version, try going single-leg for an intense challenge!
How to: Place a mat underneath the TRX straps and lie on it facing up with your feet aligned with the pivot point. Place each heel inside a TRX strap and lie with your legs straight. Press down with your feet into the straps and lift your hips off the ground so that there is a straight line from your head to your heels. This is the starting position. Press down with your heels and curl the straps in towards your body as you lift your hips. At the top of the motion, your knees should form a 90-degree angle, and there should be a straight line from your knees to your head. Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat.
The TRX can be the perfect workout companion for someone with little space or limited equipment. Although it can’t do everything (some goals will require using free weights and other equipment), suspension training is a great way to add variety to a stale routine. Start with the exercises mentioned above, then branch out and improvise to find the routine that works for you!