Like your garage, the fitness industry is littered with here-and-gone gadgets, and for good reason — there is no substitute for hard work. Conceived of by the Navy SEALs, the TRX system differs from everything else. It allows users to perform more than 300 exercises, many of which are just novel twists on familiar gym favorites like squats, rows, push-ups and lunges. But it also allows you to train in ways that you wouldn’t normally think of. Here are five of them.
1. START YOUR WORKOUT
Fast-twitch muscle fibers grow the biggest, the strongest and the fastest — and burn the most calories. The best way to target them is with explosive exercises, and the best time to do these exercises is at the start of workouts before they’re fatigued. Start your regular chest workout with three sets of three to eight reps of power push-ups on the TRX. The suspension bands allow you to explode up and land with less stress on the wrists. You also can do power inverted rows for your back, power body curls for your biceps and power triceps extensions.
2. END YOUR WORKOUT
At the end of a heavy bodypart session, attach the TRX to the top of a power rack or a fixed pull-up bar and perform a variety of exercises as finishers. Try bodyweight flyes or suspended push-ups for chest, standing reverse flyes for delts and inverted rows for back.
3. TRAIN ABS
When you do most typical ab exercises, your torso and pelvis are supported by the floor, which essentially acts as an external support. But when you’re suspended (either by your hands/arms or feet/legs) in a TRX, that support is gone, and the only way to stabilize yourself is with your deep inner-core muscles. That’s why the TRX is insanely good at building a strong core, but it also can be used to develop abs. Knee tuck-ins (hands on floor, feet suspended in stirrups, tuck knees in toward chest) are great for the lower abs. And if you thought planks were tough on the floor, wait till you try them with your feet suspended in the TRX.
4. TRAIN LEGS
The TRX allows you to do one of the hardest leg exercises ever — a suspended one-legged squat. Suspend your nonworking leg behind you in the TRX stirrup, and use your front leg to squat down and back up. This not only builds up the quads but also trains the stabilizer muscles in your lower body, as well as your core, and helps improve balance. Start with just your bodyweight and then increase the resistance by adding weight by holding dumbbells, using a barbell or wearing a weight vest.
5. DO CARDIO
Hook up your TRX bands and do mountain climbers for speed. With your hands flat on the floor and your feet anchored in the straps, run in interval fashion. In one study, subjects performed 46 TRX exercises over the course of an hour, working for 30 seconds and resting for 60. The results? Subjects burned high amounts of carbohydrates during the workout and had a high level of EPOC — excess post-exercise oxygen consumption — postworkout, with fats the primary source of fuel during the two hours following recovery.
For additional tips on how to use the TRX or to order your own set, visit trxtraining.com.