14 years after the official launch of the TRX Suspension Trainer ®, it is still going strong. TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise, and is a system that focuses on suspension resistance exercises, in a way that is more functional.
“Functional’ training is a concept that has evolved in the fitness industry as a style of training that relates to activities performed in real life, on a daily basis, or for a particular sport. Functional training is a more ‘healthy’ way of training for your body, as it keeps the balance of your muscles working together in the way they are supposed to, as opposed to working muscle groups in isolation, which is more of a bodybuilding style. Bodybuilding style training helps develop certain muscle groups, but also creates movement dysfunction and muscle imbalances, which lead to chronic injuries in the shoulder, lower back, etc.
Suspension training can definitely be seen as a form of functional training, where many variants of the primal movement patterns (ie: squats, lunges, etc.) can be created, allowing you to be creative in your workouts, while assuring a simple way to keep your workouts balanced in order to avoid injuries due to overuse of certain movement patterns.
HISTORY OF TRX
The TRX dates back to 1997, before the name TRX came about, where a Navy SEAL commander by the name of Randy Hetrick uses a jiu jitsu belt and parachute webbing to create a suspension type of workout that was easily portable. After leaving the Navy and attending Stanford University, Hetrick earns his MBA in 2001 and creates a working prototype of TRX. A precursor to the TRX Suspension Trainer, Travel X is launched in 2004, and Hetrick begins to sell them out of the trunk of his car in San Francisco. From 2005 to 2015, the craze that is TRX, is launched and makes its way, gym by gym, from instructor training courses all the way to the international market. By 2009, there are over a million TRX users in over 60 countries.
In order to assure you are purchasing a legitimate TRX Suspension Trainer, it’s best to purchase them from TRX authorized dealers. According to the trxtraining.com website, the following are TRX authorized sales channels:
Our official eBay and Amazon stores
TRX authorized web affiliates
TRX authorized distributors
The TRX Training Center in San Francisco
At our tradeshows and industry events.
The official TRX brand Suspension Trainer is a quality product, using industrial-strength materials and stitching, so will cost more than the knockoff products. It’s advisable to consult the TRX website (www.trxtraining.com) if you are unsure of where to purchase the original TRX Suspension Trainer, and also if you spot a counterfeit.
HOW TO TRAIN WITH TRX
Functional movements can mean many things to many people. It can range from calisthenics/body weight training to household chores. Because of the ambiguous definition of the term functional movement, it becomes too vague to put together a proper functional training routine.
According to the TRX website, it’s a good idea to break down large, complex, supposedly ‘functional’ movements into ‘Foundational’ movements.
THE THREE PLANES OF MOVEMENT (sagittal, frontal and transverse)
We have become so used to the ‘gym culture’ that is made up squats, lunges, bench presses, push ups, rows, bicep curls, triceps pushdowns, treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles, spinning classes, crunches, stationary planks, and the list goes on….that we often wonder why we pull our back shovelling show at the first sign of winter. There’s a term called Specificity, where you need to train in the same way as the activity is performed in order to be more effective in the activity- this can be seen as ‘functional’ training. Most gym exercises are performed in the sagittal plane of movement (ie: in a front to back movement); most real life movements involves three planes of movement (ie: sagittal, frontal and transverse). If you neglect training in the other planes of movement, there will be no transfer of your hard training to real life activities.
Real life activities involve fundamental movements such as twisting, rotation, hinging, and the like, so incorporating these types of movements into your training is very beneficial.
THE SEVEN FUNDAMENTAL (“Foundational”) MOVEMENTS (plank, push, pull, hinge, lunge, squat and rotate):
These seven movements need to be mastered as they are the basis onto which all other movements are performed. Except for rotation, these tend to work mostly in the sagittal plane of movement.
Plank: Planks are the foundation of which many TRX movements are based off, so they need to be mastered. They involve holding your body statically (ie: no movement) in alignment, with a stable spine.
Push: Pushing movements can be better performed when a solid plank is maintained….allowing movement at the shoulders and elbows.
Pull: Being able to pull properly requires being able to keep a stable spine and lower body, while moving with the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints.
Hinge: Hinging is important when performing exercises like deadlifts, kettlebell swings and pike exercises. When you are hinging at the hip, you are maximum hip extension (straight body) to maximum hip flexion (a pike position. The spine does not move while hinging (ie : neutral and stable spine) nor do the knees (or minimal movement).
Lunge: Lunging offers a good foundation for other movements such as walking, running, sprinting, climbing, etc. Learning how to properly lunge means you are mastering control of your muscles in order to accelerate and decelerate your body, which can also be transferred to the aforementioned movements. When lunging, you are focusing on keeping certain bodyparts stable (ie: feet, pelvis, core, shoulders, head) in order to allow proper fluid movement through your knees, ankles, and hips- otherwise, your body will just flop around inefficiently.
Squat: Like the lunge, the squat involves stabilizing your core, spine, and upper body, while allowing movement through the hips, knees and ankles.
Rotate: The Power Pull is a great example to show rotational movements using TRX. Rotational movements of this sort require a driving hip power. Without realizing it, we utilize rotational movements many times throughout our day to day activities, such as taking an item from the refrigerator and moving it to the kitchen counter.
FOUR ADDITIONAL FUNDAMENTAL (“Foundational”) MOVEMENTS- PROGRESSIONS OF THE SEVEN FUNDAMENTAL (“Foundational”) MOVEMENTS (bend, twist, step and crawl)
These four movements offer an added dimension to the previous seven movements, by adding movement of the spine (as with bending) as well as working more in the transverse plane, as opposed to the usual sagittal plane (as with twisting).
Bend: A bend incorporates the hinge movement (ie: bending and straightening of the hips) and adds flexion and extension of the spine. So, unlike a hinge, where you will form the letter V with your body, the bending allows you to form the letter C with your body.
Twist: Twisting refers to the upper body moving/ rotating away from the lower body. Swinging a golf club is a prime example of a movement that require good twisting mechanics. In order to train the twisting movement properly, mobility exercises should be incorporated, placing emphasis on the cervical spine, thoracic spine, hips, and even the foot and ankle region.
Step: The Step can be more of a way to learn to accelerate the body, such as with the TRX Sprinter Start., where you use your hip knee, ankle and metatarsals to drive you up forward or upwards from the ground. Its counterpart, the Lunge, can be seen more of a way to get your body to learn to decelerate.
Crawl: Crawling, like babies do, Is a movement that engages muscles of your upper body, as well as your lower body and core!
The following are samples of the myriad of workouts that can be done using the TRX Suspension Trainer ®. Each exercise can be adjusted to your present abilities, so there is no need for a beginner, Intermediate, or advanced workout. Instead, I have classified the workouts to emphasize overall body, upper body, lower body, or core.
Some of the exercises can be increased/ decreased in difficulty by moving your feet closer/ further away from the anchor point (e.g.: for low rows, chest press, bicep curls, tricep presses, etc.), while others can be progressed/regressed by adding weights, changing the tempo, performing on one leg/arm instead of two, etc.
Overall Body (more emphasis on upper body):
Table Top Rows
Overall Body (more emphasis on lower body):
Atomic Push Ups
Overall Body (more emphasis on core):
Pike Push Ups
Wikipedia contributors. (2019, February 23).”Whey Protein.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRX_System (Accessed 13 May 2019)
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TRX. “BLOG”. TRX. Retrieved May 13,2019, from https://www.trxtraining.com/train/part-2-the-evolution-of-the-trx-functional-movements-rotate-to-twist
TRX. “BLOG”. TRX. Retrieved May 13,2019, from https://www.trxtraining.com/train/the-evolution-of-the-trx-foundational-movements-part-1
TRX. “REPORT COUNTERFEITS”. TRX. Retrieved May 22,2019, from https://www.trxtraining.com/genuine-trx