October 7, 2013
When the first TRX® Suspension Trainer (TRX) popped on the market, I knew it would be something I would use on a regular basis with all of my clients, as well as for my own athletic and rehabilitative endeavors. The TRX can be used anywhere, by any person and for any goal. Have a busy day? Use it on the playground while the kids are playing. On a business trip? Anchor it in your hotel room door! TRX exercises can be regressed and progressed, as needed, to be safe and effective and to allow high-quality movement for all levels, from the novice exerciser to the elite athlete.
The following three exercises are designed to challenge the muscles of the upper body, but in suspension training the entire body is used for every exercise—allowing for fantastic core strengthening and a big metabolic boost.
TRX Spiderman Push-up
Why: Not only does it have a cool name, the TRX Spiderman push-up is much more than a regular push-up because of its added core-stability element, increased need for shoulder stability and the addition of hip mobility.
How: Lengthen the suspension trainer so the foot cradles are at mid-calf length. Place your right toe in both foot cradles and lay on the ground facing away from the anchor point. From your knees elevate to a perfect plank. Lower the body down while maintaining this plank form. At the bottom of the push-up, the right knee bends toward the right elbow. Extend both legs straight on the return to the top. Repeat with the other side. Ensure hips do not sag during any part of this movement.
Regression: If performing a TRX push-up in suspension is a bit too much, this movement can be replaced with a single-leg TRX chest press with knee lift at the bottom of the press.
TRX Low-Mid-High Row
Why: Rowing is a great movement for improving posture and building strength in the back and biceps. Using the TRX to row allows for easy regressions and progressions throughout the exercise, with the added core-strengthening benefit that comes from maintaining the plank through the movement. By combining all three rows in one movement, all of the muscles of the back are targeted.
How: Fully shorten the suspension trainer and begin by standing facing the anchor point. Choose a starting angle in which you are able to maintain proper form yet still feel challenged. Keep a solid plank throughout the movement and row with the elbows into the side; again with the elbows 45 degrees out from the side; and finally at a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep the shoulders down and back and feel a squeeze behind the shoulder blades at the top of the movement.
Regression: By stepping back away from the anchor point, there will be less resistance on the rows. Just be sure there is always tension on those straps.
TRX Split Raise
Why: This is a great exercise for the entire back of your body—especially the muscles that help stabilize the shoulders and improve posture.
How: I like to think of this one as a “gator chomp” exercise. With the suspension trainer at mid-length, stand facing the anchor point. Begin at the end range of motion with the right arm overhead and the left arm extended down. Keep tension on the suspension trainer as you slightly offset your foot position. Collapse the back knee and slowly lower down (closing the alligator chompers), remaining in a plank position with the shoulder blades anchored down and back. Flip the hands over and open them up in the opposite direction while keeping the arms straight.
Regression: By stepping back away from the anchor point, there will be less resistance on the raises. Only a very small adjustment is needed for this exercise. And once again, ensure there is always tension on those straps.
If training for strength, complete 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise at a challenging angle. For a more metabolic workout, complete 45 seconds of each exercise, with a 15-second transition to the next movement. Be sure to adjust your intensity throughout the exercise as needed to maintain proper form.
For more great exercise ideas, check out ACE’s at-home TRX workout video featuring TRX inventor Randy Hetrick!
Adjusting Your TRX Suspension Trainer
To Shorten the Suspension Trainer
Depress the cam buckle with the thumb of one hand and grasp the yellow adjustment tab with the other hand. Like pulling back a bow and arrow, drive the yellow adjustment tab up to your desired length.
To Lengthen the Suspension Trainer
Simultaneously depress both cam buckles and pull straight down to your desired length.
Fully Shortened: The yellow adjustment tabs are pulled all the way to the top of the main suspension trainer strap.
Mid Length: The yellow adjustment tabs are lined up approximately with the mid point marks.
Mid-calf Length: The bottom of the foot cradles are lined up with the middle of your calves.
Fully Lengthened: The suspension trainer is lengthened as long as it can be. At this length the bottom of the foot cradles should be hanging about 3’’ off of the ground.
Shana is an American Council on Exercise and TRX Master Instructor and a six-time world champion lumberjack athlete. She also holds records as a collegiate pole vaulter and is a nationally ranked fitness competitor. She holds a degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is a certified personal trainer through ACE, NASM, and NFPT.
The Fitness Director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Madison, Wis., Shana is also a highly accomplished coach across multiple disciplines. She has guided her lumberjack athletes and fitness competitors to world best performances and her collegiate track and field athletes hold many school records. An energetic and personable speaker, she is also the national spokesperson for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.