What to do for workouts this winter? TRX!!!

Posted on October 15, 2009

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There’s always a new fitness gadget coming out that promises “ROCK HARD ABS!” or “INCHES THAT MELT AWAY” – all with what seems to be little or no effort. The problem with all of these is that they provide convenience in an environment that, by definition, should be UNcomfortable to make it work.

Don’t misunderstand me – exercise does not have to be exhaustive, expletive-filled, hate every minute of it type stuff. Should it be that sometimes? Heck yes! If we never tested our limits, we’d never know how hard we actually can go, and we’d be limiting the results we could achieve. Also, changing up the intensity of workouts is critical to the success of the program! What I mean here is that those hot new workout devices that promise to make working out easier & require less effort, are going against what working out is all about.

Results with exercise happen when the body is put into an environment that is uncomfortable & it’s the body’s attempt to adapt to that situation that creates new muscle fibers, less body fat, better balance, more endurance. So why should we buy any more equipment that makes the movement or work of exercise easier? If you’re going to buy a piece of workout equipment, buy something that is going to challenge the way in which you move, exert, & contract your muscles (including your heart muscles!)

Enter the TRX Suspension Training System. The TRX Bands are unlike anything in fitness today. They are two long fabric straps with both handles & foot cradles at the ends, that can hang from any stable structure – your door, the ceiling, a tree, a post, a soccer goal, a jungle gym, seriously! – anything!! They were designed to withstand a huge amount of force exerted on them & as long as the structure you attach it to is sturdy e.g. NOT a young sapling tree or a screen door, a large man could put all of his weight against these straps & they’d support him.

The TRX is so unique because it takes “core” training & “functional” training in a whole new direction. Most core work allows you to stabilize in up to 180 degrees of motion, as a stability ball does. The TRX requires you to stabilize in 360 degrees because your body is suspended from the TRX with only your hands or feet keeping you attached to the earth.

TRX in home exercise room

TRX in home exercise room

 As you can see, the TRX can anchor to a ceiling with a simple X brace that is sold by the TRX people. A simple exercise like pushups – which is a great one to begin with! – becomes challenging on a whole new level as your hands that before were on solid ground, now are having to stabilize themselves in mid-air. In addition, your core will work harder the deeper your angle is to the ground. But if you’re a beginner, you too can work on the TRX by simply decreasing the angle at which you work. The higher the angle of the body i.e. the more upright you stand, the easier it is! So anyone can do this – from beginner to pro athlete. This tool will take you from wherever your fitness level is at today all the way to when you hit pro-elite-extreme status!

In addition, most of us want a fast, effective workout & if we can get our cardio & strength training done in one shot? Even better! On the TRX, you can transition from one exercise to the next in a matter of seconds by just changing your position. To go from the position shown above – working chest, shoulders, triceps, & core – to the one below – working back, biceps, butt, & core literally requires a second to transition.

great exercise for strengthening back, butt, core, biceps
great exercise for strengthening back, butt, core, biceps

No matter what position you are in on the TRX, your body is required to maintain a multitude of different muscle contractions which is exactly how you want to train your body to be “functionally efficient.” Being functionally efficient means that your body is not just strong in 1 position, but is strong throughout a range of motion. Think of a physical therapist when they work on someone’s knee who had ACL reconstruction. They don’t let that person just keep their leg in one position, they make them improve their strength in every angle from a straight leg to a fully bent knee. Training with a tool like TRX does the same thing for your body – strengthens & tones you in every angle of motion.

And you wanted that cardio right? Try putting together 12 different exercises back to back to back & see how your heart rate is doing after that. The TRX people send a dvd with the straps that is a starting point if you are not working with a trainer who can teach you everything on the straps & they show you how transitioning quickly maintains a high heart rate, which means your heart gets stronger, you burn more calories & body fat & you’re sweating like crazy.

And are you one of the people who think planks have gotten too easy? Try doing them in the TRX where your feet are suspended off the ground & you can apply motion to the plank hold. And if you still think planks are hard, then you too can use the TRX to practice training your muscles in a different way, because remember, any good program should train your muscles differently on a regular basis so that the muscles are forced to consistently grow, get stronger, get leaner & help you be more fit!

suspended plank in TRX

suspended plank in TRX

I am not paid by TRX, they don’t give me free stuff, I just think this tool is so incredibly awesome that I think others should know about it & bring the TRX into their own workouts. Winter workout season is upon us & if you can make working out indoors fun, challenging, & easy to jump on & do, then you’ll have a higher likelihood of sticking with your program & actually maintaining or (gasp!) even getting better in the winter season! Just think…coming into spring already in the body you want, at the clothing size you want, at the ability level you want, without any injuries…novel concept huh?

If you have questions about TRX, how to get TRX, what to do with TRX now that you have it, leave your comments & questions here & I will answer them!

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Posted in: fitness