A Primer on TRX|Tips to make the workout more effective

Posted on January 28, 2011

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TRX madness is still sweeping the nation…and shockingly, tons of people still don’t know what a TRX is. Not really shocking actually…if you’re an athlete, you better know what a TRX, but since TRX does NO television marketing…you won’t find the non-athlete exerciser staying up late to see how many low, low payments they too can have their revolutionary, fat-blasting TRX for.

If you are an athlete, and know what TRX is, you better know that its a valuable tool for helping you perform better – regardless of your sport. If you’re not an athlete, but want the best workout you can get, you need to be looking for a TRX instructor near you.

*I have been certified in TRX  teaching for 3 years to athletes & exercisers in the Chicagoland area, and just began teaching athletes via skype/internet across the country. While training with a Fitness Pro is ideal, there are lots of you who have TRX in your home now, and one thing my clients consistently tell me is that the details they learn from me make their TRX home-training that much more effective. So here are some of those tips for you to start using today!

– Always pre-start your exercise in the “B” position. Whatever move you’re about to do will have two end points – one where your arms or legs are fully lengthened, and one where they are bent or flexed – said another way, it will have a point where you are pulled close to the straps and a point where you are farther away from them. Whatever position you would be returning to after doing the move…THAT is your “B” position. You must start there so that you know your feet/arms/body are positioned correctly to allow for full range of motion of the movement.

Example: TRX Standing Row – The move requires you to lean back from the handles, straightening the arms out, then bend the elbows driving them behind you to “row” yourself back to the start position. Just like a Seated Row machine, but standing up, and using gravity as resistance. The “B” position is the one when your hands are near your armpits, elbows fully bent, shoulder blades squeezed together. Start there, ensuring your body positioning is correct, & you have full tension on the straps, no slack in them. Then lean back to begin your exercise.

– For standing exercises, your body needs to be as straight as a surfboard – it may be hard to feel this correctly in the beginning. For most people, the correct position will feel like you’re sticking your butt out too far. The reason is because many people already have too much of an arch in their low back due to tight muscles in the lower back. Thus “straight” to them actually is slightly curved or arched in the low back, which we do NOT want when doing TRX.

To position yourself correctly for standing exercises: If you have a mirror, super! If not, follow these steps – engage the core by drawing the belly into the spine, bend forward ever-so-slightly from the waist, tuck butt under by tilting the pelvis (think Elvis hip thrusts). Keep hip bones directly under shoulders. When done correctly, to many individuals, this will feel like they are almost pitching forward in this standing position. Once moving in the exercise, the tendency is to start using momentum from the hips to complete the move – to fight this urge, ensure your chest is leading the way, NOT your pelvis.

– The angle makes a difference – a HUGE difference. That’s what is so awesome about TRX! My mother could use it & so could my elite triathletes! So if standing facing straps or facing away, or if laying down with heels in cradles, look at the angle your body is making with the anchor point. If you’re standing almost upright – it will be an easier exercise. If you’re leaning at a deep angle, the exercise will be much harder. Also, depending on where you place your handles/cradles in relation to your anchor point, will determine the difficulty of the exercises. If you’re laying down with feet in cradles, exercises where the straps are directly under the anchor point are easy, straps angling ‘behind’ the anchor point will be even easier, straps angling ‘ahead’ of the anchor point will be harder.

Example: When laying with heels in cradles for TRX Hip Press – Bent Knee….if you lay with your feet directly under your anchor point & it’s too difficult for you to execute correctly, move your body so that your feet are now on the other side of your anchor point & your hips are what is centered with your anchor point. You’ll have lessened the load on your posterior kinetic chain & thus make the exercise easier.

TRX Atomic Pushups (full ones, not modified) are not the beginning of your progression point. They are not even the middle. They are only for after you’re able to successfully stay straight as a surfboard while you do suspended pushups, no belly dips, no caved torsos, no tiny bent elbows – a successful TRX suspended pushup has perfectly straight torso at all times, elbows that bend to 90 degrees, and a head that is out in front of the hands, not in line with them. If you can’t do this, you’re not ready for TRX Atomic Pushups (full ones).

Want to modify it so you can eventually d0 the real-deal ones? Method 1. Practice your regular pushups. The right way. No cheating. Method 2. Put feet in cradles, knees bent to floor, hands in ready position for pushups-from-knees. Lower into a proper pushup, elbows to 90, chest out, back in line with shoulders, no arching of low back. Exhale as you push the ground away pressing back to pushup position. Lift knees off the ground while extending them into hand plank position. Hold for a count of 2 then return to knees and start next pushup.

The TRX Suspension Training System is a fabulous tool for integrating strength work in 360 degrees of motion, all planes of movement, and in angles you will not get to with basic free weights/machines/cables. But it is truly maximized once you learn the details of the movements. Anyone can swing around on some cables, but the best workout results come from getting the details right.

If you’d like to discuss a TRX training program, or coaching for integrating TRX properly into your own workout, you can reach me here.

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