You know that yellow and black strappy contraption that you’ve probably seen on TV or hanging somewhere in your gym? It’s not a torture device, although you might think otherwise after using one for a workout. It’s called the TRX Suspension Trainer, and it was developed by a Navy Seal who needed an efficient way to perform strength training while stationed in combat.
It might not look tough to perform exercises on the TRX, which relies on using only your own body weight as resistance, but after a few reps at the right intensity for your fitness level, your muscles will be quivering. Why? The instability created by suspending your body away from the device’s handles recruits your entire core to perform the movement, along with those little stabilizer muscles that often get neglected in traditional exercises.
Before I attended a training workshop earlier this year, I was skeptical about the TRX myself, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite tools to use on myself and with clients. You control the amount of resistance by changing your body’s position in relation to the TRX’s anchor point – by moving your feet closer to the device, you can increase the angle you’re pulling against, making the exercise harder to perform – so it’s effective for beginners and the super-advanced, even if you are working around an injury (as long as your doctor okays it). Because it can be used for developing strength, mobility, power and flexibility, it’s a versatile option regardless of your goals, and its portability is perfect for small spaces and travelers.
So how do you use it? Affix the trainer to a sturdy, stationary source (think: the pull-up bar at the gym, or a thick tree branch outside) and then adjust the straps to different lengths for a variety of exercises. I like to use the TRX for a full-body strength and cardio circuit like this one: Pistol Squats, Side lunges, Back Rows, Chest Flys, Plank and Mountain Climbers. I suggest doing 10-12 reps of each move, performed back-to-back, only stopping briefly to rest as needed, for three sets total.
Before using the TRX for the first time, please have a certified trainer show you the ropes – or the straps, in this case – to make sure that you know how to use it properly in order to minimize your risk of injury and maximize your chances of getting fit.