Burning fat and toning up is as much an art as it is a science. It can be incredibly difficult to break through your plateau and sustain the gains you’ve made, especially amid all of the “get-thin-quick” advice floating around these days. Here are five simple tactics to help you see results and keep them, to get that trim, toned physique you’ve been working for.
Tip One: Resistance Training is Your Friend
Resistance training provides an incredible boost to your metabolism from workout to workout, plus it will help to lower your total body-fat percentage. Research shows that individuals who incorporate some kind of resistance training into their weight-loss program lose 35-45% more weight than those dieting and performing cardio alone.
We are not suggesting you start bodybuilding, but adding resistance training to your routine with the TRX Suspension Trainer can really help accelerate your fat loss. For more on resistance training,
Tip Two: Intensity- Quality Over Quantity
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular workout style that pairs short, hard efforts with brief rest periods. For your HIIT session to be successful you should be well rested and ready to work hard.
These workouts don’t need to last too long, but they do have to be all out efforts.
HIIT burns significantly more calories than steady state cardio, and like resistance training, these this type of workouts will elevate your metabolism for hours after. More importantly HIIT workouts lead to significantly greater fat loss than cardio, some studies have shown up to nine times more. For more on HIIT workouts, .
Tip Three: Stop Spot Training
No matter how many abdominal exercises you perform, “core work” alone will not give you a six pack. Fat loss through exercise comes as a result of caloric expenditure and increased metabolism. No matter how hard you try, you can’t control where your body burns fat, but you can work to lower your total body fat percentage.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is an incredible tool for this. By leveraging your own body as resistance, every movement becomes a total-body exercise, helping you burn more calories in less time. Here are some total-body exercises you can do with the TRX.
Tip Four: Fuel the Fire
If you want sustainable results, you must feed your body what it needs to perform, and restore before and after your training. You need energy to train, and you should get that energy from a healthy, balanced diet. Starving yourself will make you lethargic, grumpy and actually cause your metabolism to slow down, making it much harder to make headway.
It’s also really important to refuel your body post workout, with lean protein, carbohydrates and water. The better your post-workout nutrition, the faster you’ll be able to recover and hit your next training session.
This nutrition strategy will also help you build more lean muscle mass, which will work in your favor because muscle naturally burns a ton of calories just to sustain itself.
For more nutrition tips
Tip Five: Think About the Big Picture
Concentrating on how much fat you burn in a workout is like thinking about how much muscle you build in a biceps curl. You don’t make a big change in one training session. Fat loss is a result of consistency over an extended period of time. While all of these techniques will help you, nothing works like hard work over time.
- New Study Shows TRX Is an Effective Total-Body Workout
- Does TRX Really Work?
- The Benefits of TRX Suspension Training
- Science Tests the Effectiveness of the TRX
- My backstory before I got into TRX
- How I discovered TRX training
- How I went about using TRX suspension training to lose fat and build muscle
- TRX transformation pictures: the before and after results
- My favorite benefits of TRX
- Is TRX right for you?
- What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
- TRX Review: Don’t Believe the Hype
- Suspension Training: The advantages and disadvantages
- Pros and Cons of TRX
- Are TRX Workouts Actually Effective?
- The Pros Of TRX Workouts
- The Cons Of TRX Workouts
- Summing it all up
New Study Shows TRX Is an Effective Total-Body Workout
Suspension training (which you might know as TRX) has become a mainstay at gyms all over-and for good reason. It’s a super effective way to torch your whole body, build strength, and get your heart beating, using just your own bodyweight. (Yeah, you can do that without a TRX too.) But, up until recently, there was little scientific evidence that actually demonstrated its effectiveness.
The American Council on Exercise wanted proof once and for all, so it commissioned a study of 16 healthy men and women (from 21 to 71 years old) to look at the long-term effects of TRX training. People did a 60-minute TRX class three times a week for eight weeks, and had various physical fitness and health markers measured both before and after the program.
First off, people burned about 400 calories per session (which is the top of the ACE’s workout energy expenditure goal for a typical workout). Second, there were significant decreases in waist circumference, body fat percentage, and resting blood pressure. Third, people improved their muscle strength and endurance, including significant improvemens in leg press, bench press, curl-up, and push-up tests. All of the results combined suggest that long-term adherence to a suspension training program is likely to decrease your likelihood of cardiovascular disease. (Plus, you can do it anywhere! Here’s how to set up a TRX in a tree.)
Things to keep in mind: the TRX class they completed included intervals of non-TRX exercises like ladder agility drills and kettlebell swings, so you could argue that the results came from the overall strength-plus-cardio conditioning nature of the workout. Also, with only 16 people, the study didn’t didn’t span a huge population.
Regardless, if you’ve been avoiding the suspension trainers or classes at the gym because you wondered, “is TRX effective?” The answer is a resounding yes.
True, some people have criticized suspension training because 1) there’s a maximum weight for you to lift/pull/push, etc. vs. traditional weight lifting, where you can build up to hundreds of pounds, and 2) it requires a lot of core strength and balance, which might lead to injury without the proper instruction, says Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. and ACE Chief Science Officer.
But neither of these are good reasons to skip suspension; “For a person who doesn’t have experience and doesn’t know how to modify the amount of body weight they’re responsible for in an exercise, they can have some difficulty performing the exercise correctly,” says Bryant. But working with a qualified trainer can prevent that-just don’t go experimenting with crazy stuff on the TRX without having a fitness baseline. And taking your time on a TRX to build those skills can have great benefits: “Anything where you’re forced to handle your bodyweight in space is beneficial in enhancing one’s functional capability, including balance and core stability” says Bryant. (You can even use a suspension trainer to help you nail tricky yoga poses.)
For the hard-core weight lifters who think it will be too easy, think again. When it comes to challenging your muscles with weight, you can tweak to meet your physical abilities: “It does allow you a lot of variety in terms of changing the intensity of the exercise,” he says. “By simply changing body position, you’re responsible for increasing or decreasing proportions of your bodyweight against gravity.” Don’t believe us? Just try some TRX burpees, and get back to us.
What are you waiting for? Get hanging with suspension training: try these 7 Tone-All-Over TRX Moves to start.
- By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo
Does TRX Really Work?
There I am standing in a gym staring at a piece of equipment (something made from nylon with two handles at the end) that is supposed to give me a killer workout. Curious about what I was staring at, I decided to give TRX Suspension Training a try.
Now, I’ve always heard amazing things about TRX and have seen it numerous times on The Biggest Loser, but wanted to see for myself if TRX really was a body-changing workout.
I don’t want to toot my own horn here or anything, but I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. I work out daily, run, and practice yoga, so I contemplated whether or not TRX could really give me a good workout? Open-minded to TRX, I met with my trainer to see if TRX is all it’s made out to be.
Doug Balzarini, fitness trainer and conditioning coach for UFC Champion Dominick Cruz and Phis Davis, asked, “Are you ready for TRX?” I responded, “Bring it on.”
First I should explain what exactly TRX is. TRX Suspension Training is a fitness tool made from high quality nylon. It has handles at the bottom and is durable to hold up to 1400 pounds. TRX is portable; you can set it up anywhere. It’s a total-body training system that allows you to do all sorts of exercises using your body weight. You have to use you core stabilizers to work out with TRX, so you build your core, strength, balance, agility and power.
Doug explained that there are six basic body positions with TRX, which allow for hundreds of exercises—no matter the skill level.
- Face the Anchor Point
- Face Away From the Anchor Point
- Face Sideways to the Anchor Point
On the Ground:
- Lay Face Down
- Lay Face Up
- Lay on Your Side
Now that the basics were out of the way, Doug put me to work.
We started with a basic squat. As simple as the movement was for me, the benefit of doing a regular squat with TRX allowed me to keep my alignment right. From a basic squat, we went to one-legged squats to one-legged squat-hops. You can keep advancing your skill level by adding balance and movement.
We did pushups, jumps, twists, one-legged dead lifts, and so on. By the end of the hour I was sweating and feeling energized. I wanted to do more…I wanted to take the TRX system home with me. I immediately saw how a simple low lunge movement could help me improve my runs. It’s no wonder why so many professional athletes incorporate TRX into their workout regimen.
The Benefits of TRX Suspension Training
- It’s great for all levels. “Anyone can use TRX due to its versatility,” says Balzarini.
- It’s portable. It weighs two pounds so you can take it anywhere and use it indoors or outdoors.
- It helps you reach any goal. Use to improve sports performance, lose weight, gain strength, rehab an injury, and more.
- It’s functional. It’s designed to carry everywhere and meets the demands of daily activities.
- You stand to train. People sit too much and have sedentary lifestyles. This allows you to get off your butt.
- It’s all core all the time. “TRX requires you to constantly remain “engaged” and “stable” throughout your entire body,” says Balzarini.
After my workout, I asked Balzarini why he is so passionate about TRX. “I love it because of all the benefits,” Balzarini said. “TRX is unlike machine-based training. It allows you to move through endless ranges and angles, which is much more beneficial and functional than other workouts.”
TRX training is a great workout. I love TRX because you can work in a variety of planes and in all ranges of motion. I can work on my running stride one day and perfect my golf swing another. TRX allows you to get creative, have fun, and push yourself past your limits.
The next day I was sore, but it was a “good sore” and I felt stronger.
Sign up for a core strengthening class.
Fara Rosenzweig is an online lifestyle editor for Active.com.
Science Tests the Effectiveness of the TRX
There has been a lot of debate in the training world as to the value of stable versus unstable surface training. In general, standing on an unstable surface seems to detract from strength too much to be beneficial. But would it make a difference if our feet were stabilized but our hands were not?
In a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers sought to find out the effects of using TRX suspension training straps. The research team included Dr. Stuart McGill, who is well known for his work in the field of biomechanics and kinesiology. The researchers compared pressing exercises done with the TRX to more traditional versions of the exercises. Given the similarity between a TRX and, say, gymnastics rings, I suspect that the results would translate to any similar exercise.
There is good reason to believe that training with the TRX might be better at activating muscles compared to doing the same exercises on a stable surface. Recall a prior article of mine that compared the effects of different versions of the overhead press. Standing was compared to sitting, and dumbbells were compared to barbells. In each case the seated version was the more stable one, but there were some unique effects of adding instability to the exercise. For example, the core muscles and the shoulders were shown to benefit from instability.
In today’s study, the researchers were looking at more than just muscle activation. They were also interested in the effect of each method on spine loading and how coaching affected the outcomes. In terms of muscle activation, one of their focuses was on the serratus anterior muscle. The serratus are muscles over your ribs that you can see between your lats and abs, just under your pecs. Their primary function is shoulder protraction, which is when you move your shoulders forward.
The researchers thought the unstable exercises would have the strongest effect on the serratus, but this was not so. The stable exercises tested were the push up, shoulder protraction, and bench press. The TRX exercises used in the study were the TRX push up, TRX push, and TRX scapular push up. The stable versions of the exercises had much stronger effects on the serratus muscle. The standard push up and standard shoulder protraction (what some call a scapular push up) were dramatically more effective at targeting the serratus than the TRX versions. This includes what they called the TRX scapular push up (shown below).
When it came to the other muscle groups aside from the serratus muscles, there were mixed results. The TRX exercises had the greatest impact on core musculature in general. In terms of pecs, shoulders, triceps, and lats, theTRX push ups that were performed lowest to the ground were comparable.
The researchers also compared these exercises to a bench press with 50% of 1RM, although they did not consider the ab muscles other than internal obliques or the quads during the bench press. In this comparison, the bench press had a significant peak activation of all of the muscle groups over the push up, either stable or unstable.
When it came to compressing the spine, there were no significant effects from any of the exercises. In general, the stable versions had lower spinal compression rates than their unstable counterparts. However, the researchers also measured shearing forces, which are angular forces that also affect the spine. When it came to shearing, the standard push up had the highest measurements, probably because it is performed at the smallest vertical angle.
The researchers also examined the effects of coaching during these exercise variations. They found coaching was effective at keeping the spine safe in the TRX exercises. However, it made less of a difference in the stable exercises.
In conclusion, when it came to the core muscles, the TRX outperformed all other exercises, but was comparable to the push up for the other muscle groups. The researchers also found that the push up done without the TRX required less coaching to be effective. Neither TRX exercises nor the push up seemed to have much effect on the spine. Perhaps the biggest take home point is the bench press might work better than all of the exercises tested.
1. Stuart McGill, et. al., “Analysis of Pushing Exercises: Muscle Activity and Spine Load While Contrasting Techniques on Stable Surfaces with a Labile Suspension Strap Training System,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, DOI: 10.1097/JSC.0000000000000219.
Photo 1 courtesy of .
If you are considering buying suspension straps, please take just a minute to read about my TRX success story and experience with the system. By the end you a good idea if TRX training is a good choice for you and your situation.
My name is Ethan and I have been using TRX suspension training for about three months now.
Quite frankly, it has taken me on quite the wild ride.
In this TRX suspension training review, I simply want to share with anyone interested in suspension training about my experience with the product. My objective is to provide detailed insight into how I used the TRX, how I benefited from it, and my honest opinion on the product’s value.
Right off the bat, I can tell you that I had great success with the TRX suspension training system. However, to be completely fair, this does not necessarily mean that it is the best choice for you. I will talk more about this later.
Table of contents
- My backstory before I got into TRX
- How I discovered TRX training
- How I went about using TRX suspension training to lose fat and build muscle
- TRX transformation pictures: the before and after results
- My favorite benefits of TRX
- Is TRX right for you?
My backstory before I got into TRX
I had always been an active gym-goer before TRX…
All my life, in fact, I have been fairly active. I did competitive swimming all throughout high school amongst a few other sports here and there. However, when I took up weightlifting early in my teenage years, lifting became a staple for me in my fitness career.
However, I never really took weight lifting super seriously. I would simply use weightlifting as a way to stay in shape but I never set goals for myself. At no point did I ever say to myself “I am going to put on 5 pounds of muscle in the next 3 months by doing XYZ exercises week by week”. I never had a specific objective to put on muscle, burn fat or really change my physique.
I worked out to feel good about myself and to stay in shape and I never felt the need to push myself too hard. Fitness has just always been part of my daily routine.
Early in my sophomore year of college, however, my whole fitness routine came to an abrupt halt.
While riding my bike in the late evening through a pothole-riddled street, I had an accident. When I crashed I had broken my wrist in three places. I had cracked my radius, chipped my ulna and broken my scaphoid in half as well.
Rough times man.
For the next five months, I was completely out of commission. I ended up getting surgery to restructure and repair my fragmented wrist.
Broken bones are tricky. You can’t really move them around when they are in the healing process. Otherwise, they will never get a chance to properly mend back together and heal. As a result, I was in a cast for the better part of my school year.
Oh, and by the way, this was my dominant right hand we are talking about.
Not being able to move my fingers very much made writing, and doing other basic actions difficult or impossible. It’s amazing how much you realize you depend on your dominant hand to do things until you can’t use it anymore.
Although not being able to eat with my right hand, or having to take showers with my arm up sucked, nothing made me more miserable than not being able to work out. After all, as I said before, working out was a constant in my life. As far as I could remember, there never really was a time where I wasn’t lifting weights or doing SOMETHING active.
I couldn’t put any pressure at all on my wrist anymore. This meant that doing practically any weightlifting was out of the question. Even doing leg exercise was not possible. I wasn’t allowed to (or capable of) holding or lifting any type of weight with my hands. Even squatting was impossible since I couldn’t really grip the bar or bend my wrist back slightly to support it on my back.
I would say that I went through something of a little depression in these 5 months as my body slowly deflated. Before I broke my wrist, I was fairly lean and toned. However, after about half a year of inactivity, I lost a bunch of muscle that I had put on and got a little bit pudgy as well. I was not happy about it at all.
Not being able to exercise really made me realize how much I took being able to exercise whenever and however for granted.
I desperately wanted to hit the gym again more than anything. As I began to recover, I started thinking about a plan to get back in shape.
Given that I was pretty unhappy with my slightly flabby appearance, I had the goal to lose the fat that I had put on and pack on some lean muscle as well. Ultimately, I wanted to get into killer shape and I wanted to take on a more motivated, and focused mentality to working out. Ultimately, I never had this sort of mentality before when I was simply working out to just stay in relatively good shape.
From there, I decided to try a new approach to fitness than my old passive and unfocused fitness style. This approach focused heavily on using TRX.
How I discovered TRX training
Keep in mind that my goal when I recovered was to cut down on the fat that I had put on and built some serious muscle. To figure out the best way to do so given the situation I hopped on my computer and tried to figure out how.
While researching ways to get into killer shape while I still had my broken wrist, I came across various articles on how using your bodyweight is one of the most effective ways to both slim down and also build muscle.
It wasn’t before long before I came across TRX suspension training.
I had definitely heard of TRX. I had even seen people at the gym using suspension training although I didn’t know that this equipment was in fact TRX. It definitely sparked my interest.
The concept seemed really cool to me. It was like doing basic calisthenic exercises like pushups, and pullups but on steroids. It seemed as though you could leverage your body weight to make simple bodyweight workouts that much more challenging.
I poured over article after article on the benefits or TRX. After sifting through user reviews I had found that tons of enthusiasts had used the system to achieve various fitness goals.
After some basic research, I decided that I wanted to go ahead and give suspension training a shot because…
1. TRX supposedly gave you the ability to lose fat and build muscle
2. It only required the use of my body weight and the system its self which seemed like a pleasantly simple approach to working out to me
3. TRX actually looked like a ton of fun!
How I went about using TRX suspension training to lose fat and build muscle
Eventually, after a grueling 5 months of recovery that included surgery, plenty of time for healing and eventually physical therapy, I slowly became able to use my wrist again like I used to.
For a while, it was pretty stiff but as I continued with the physical therapy I got to the point where it became practically fully functional.
I ended up buying the TRX Pro, available here on Amazon, which is a pretty standard TRX model that is quite popular.
As I said before, I had been living a pretty sedentary lifestyle after I had injured myself. As a result, I had put on a bit of belly fat and lost some muscle. I first wanted to really focus on just getting my strength and stamina back. Ultimately I wanted to lose some of the body fat as well.
In order to meet these objectives, I spent the first month using the TRX accordingly…
At first, I had really no idea how to use the TRX suspension straps. I began browsing the internet to learn more about how to use the equipment.
I stumbled across various videos on youtube on how to use TRX for beginners just by searching around which gave me a pretty good idea of how to get started.
At first, I simply started out with the most basic moves. This was mainly because after doing nothing physical for 5 months I had lost much of my strength and couldn’t do any of the more advanced TRX exercises.
Since I needed to focus on just getting my whole body back into shape I focused on doing mostly compound exercises. For the upper body, I did rowing and chest press variation. For my lower body, I did lunge and squat variations. I didn’t really bother doing bicep curls, tricep presses, or other muscle-isolating exercises until later on. This is simply because when you are trying to lean down, it’s better to focus on full body routines that burn more calories.
I also made sure that the angle I suspended my body was not too extreme. I wanted to make sure that my form was solid before making the exercises any harder.
It was also important that I could do 10 to 20 reps of each exercise. My approach to exercising with the TRX at first was more centered around explosive, high-intensity training. I trained at first this way rather than a slow, low rep muscle building style of training.
I worked out 5 days a week on average for an hour at a time. My focus was not to isolate certain muscle groups like back and biceps on one day, chest and triceps another day, etc. Rather, I alternated between upper body exercise and lower body exercise day by day.
It was certainly not easy work at first at all! The main reason was that I had not worked out in the past months of course. However because I could adjust my straps and body position to make exercises easier or harder, I was able to gradually make the exercises more difficult as I got stronger.
I was blown away by the results after the first month. I was able to lean up my figure quite noticeably in such a short amount of time. Of course, the results after only one month might not have been super noticeable to others. However, I know my body well, and I knew that my muscle definition was becoming more defined.
After about a month and a half of my TRX transformation, I changed up my training style a bit.
Around this point, I felt that I had leaned up a little. I was now focused on my next objective: building muscle.
I have heard people say before “oh TRX is not made for building muscle”. Believe me, if you use it right, you certainly can build muscle and a lot of it.
At this point, I had built up enough strength and stamina after a month of training to take my TRX game up a notch. Instead of doing more explosive, high rep sets, I began to focus on doing slower, concentrated, low rep sets. It’s important that you squeeze the muscle you are working at the peak of its contraction for every rep. Training in this sort of fashion is better for packing on muscle rather than burning body fat.
To train this way, I created a sharper angle between me and the ground when using the straps. In other words, I was leaning back or forward more than I was used to in order to make the exercises harder to do. I also would extend out my straps so that I had enough length to lean farther back or forward.
I still was working out about 5 days a week. However, at this point, I wasn’t alternating between just upper body and lower body workouts. Instead, I was breaking my workouts down like I would with weight lifting many months before.
A typical week for me would look like this:
- Monday– Back and biceps
- Tuesday– Chest, and triceps
- Wednesday– Rest
- Thursday– Legs
- Friday– Light shoulders and core
- Saturday– Biceps and triceps, core and legs, or another muscle group. This was sort of a free day to experiment and to work whatever muscle group I wanted to.
- Sunday– Rest
By concentrating on specific muscle groups for a full day at a time, I could really take on more of a bodybuilding TRX approach.
I also was challenging myself with more advanced exercises that I couldn’t do with good form in the first month. Suspended pushups, pistol squats, and other challenging exercises became part of my weekly routine.
Again, after the second month, all was going well. I had definitely filled out a bit more and I began to see more and more definition in my body. I was making some real progress.
In the third month, I did not change my training style too much from the second month.
My objective was still to build lean muscle. At this point, I was just trying to push myself as much as I could.
As a result, I began to make the exercises I was doing as challenging as possible. I leveraging my body weight more by suspending myself closer to the ground to create more resistance.
I also took things up a notch by training with a weighted vest which made the exercises SIGNIFICANTLY more challenging. Using a weighted vest to do TRX takes building muscle with suspension training the next level.
By the end of the month, I could not have been happier with the results.
Related: 10 TRX Suspension Training Benefits
TRX transformation pictures: the before and after results
I am pleased to say that I am more than happy about the results so quickly.
In the past four months, I have made some great progress in my fitness. I have gone from 171 pounds at the beginning of my journey to 175 pounds by putting on lean muscle.
Although I didn’t measure my body fat change throughout the progress, just by looking at my body I expect that the first month really helped to lean down a bit before I bulked up with muscle. As a result, even though I put on muscle mass in the second and third month, I suspect that I have less body fat then when I started out.
Suspension training is incredible because no matter what muscles you are focusing on exercising at any given moment, you are still engaging other parts of your body.
For instance, if you are doing a basic row with suspension straps you are working primarily on your back and biceps. However, you are also engaging a number of stabilizer muscles such as your shoulders, abs, obliques, legs and more. As a result, you are still in a way getting a full body workout even when you are focusing on exercising your back.
I believe that this is why suspension training is so effective for getting into shape quickly. You engage all your muscles to a much greater degree when you are using suspension straps rather than free weights in many cases.
I believe this is part of the reason why I have seen development in my body like never before.
My favorite benefits of TRX
There are a whole host of different benefits of TRX. However, there are a few that I find to be the most essential.
1. Core exercise
Out of all the different ways to exercise your core, I don’t think I have ever experienced a core workout like TRX.
Using your suspension straps is one of the best ways to target your abs, obliques and lower back. There are dozens of exercise variations to work your core in distinct ways that are difficult to replicate without a suspension training set in my opinion. Suspension training is an incredibly unique piece of equipment in this respect.
Of course, you still engage your core even when you aren’t targeting it with the TRX. After all, your core is necessary to keep your body stable during all TRX exercises.
2. Workout anywhere
The best place you can work out with your TRX, in my opinion, is a home so that you can stay in shape without paying for a gym membership. However, you can certainly take your set elsewhere.
Because TRX only consists of some straps and a carabiner, it is incredibly easy to take place to place. The set even comes with a mesh bag that you can conveniently stow away your TRX for travel.
You can set it up practically anywhere. Ultimately you do have to know a thing or two about how to get creative with attaching your anchor. However, as long as you have a sturdy structure to hang your suspension set on you should have no problem getting right into it.
3. It’s fun!
In my opinion, this sort of strength training was breath of fresh air for me after weight lifting years before.
I don’t know why but something about hanging from suspension straps is such a unique but effective way to work out that there is no way to not enjoy it.
To me, suspension training never gets old. There are just so many variations of exercises to really keep things interesting. Not to mention that you can forever challenge yourself by adjusting the straps to make exercises more difficult.
Is TRX right for you?
TRX is an amazing tool for anyone who wants to get in amazing shape with unique and effective methods.
The only people I would advise to hold off from using TRX are those who have difficulty supporting their own bodyweight.
If you find that it is incredibly difficult to do a pushup you should most likely focus on being able to support your own bodyweight through basic calisthenic exercises before you take on TRX.
With suspension training, you have to support your bodyweight on two dangling suspension straps. If you decide to attempt this sort of exercise without being able to support yourself on a solid surface, you risk hurting yourself.
That being said, if you still want to go for it, adjust the straps so that you can still support yourself without any uncontrollable instability.
Ultimately I could not be happier with the progress I have seen by using the TRX.
In three short months, I was able to seemingly get rid of some excess fat build up and put on some serious muscle.
The results I achieved by doing TRX for a few months completely trumped what I had accomplished months before doing my usual weight lifting routine. This was a complete shock to me. I had always thought that building solid muscle would be much easier by weight lifting. However, the results tell me otherwise.
To be completely fair, I certainly wasn’t working as hard with my old weight lifting routine as I was with the TRX. However, I had been working out that way consistently for a much longer period of time relative to my TRX training.
Regardless it is clear that as long as you commit to a good training routine, the TRX is powerful for getting in shape. The best part is that you can build fat or build muscle depending on how you go about working out with your straps. It all depends on how you adjust the straps and position your body.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review, and best of luck in achieving your fitness goals!
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
TRX is a super-intense workout that can be adapted, but it’s not for everyone. You need to have a basic level of fitness and coordination to get the most out of even the simplest TRX workouts and to be safe.
You should have a trainer working with you to be sure your technique is on target to help avoid injuries.
It is a great workout for you if you have limited time and space and are trying to get in or maintain top condition.
If you are out of shape or new to the gym, go for a slower, beginner TRX workout to build strength and muscle. Add a good aerobic activity like walking to get you in top shape before lunging into using TRX as an aerobic workout.
Do not attempt TRX if you have a medical problem, pain, or balance issues unless your doctor says it is OK. Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for injury.
Is It Good for Me if I Have a Health Condition?
A solid aerobic program with some added strength building is ideal for you if you have diabetes, as long as you have cleared it with your doctor. All of that muscle you build will burn more calories.
Make sure you start out at the level of training that is right for you. You may need to check your blood sugar before, during, and after any intense workout. You will also have to talk to your doctor about what changes may be needed in your diabetes treatment plan.
Aerobics and strength building are also keys in bringing down your weight, blood pressure, and “bad” cholesterol to help prevent heart disease.
If you already have heart disease, you will need to check with your doctor before starting this or any other exercise program.
If you have knee or back injuries, arthritis, or physical limitations of any kind, have your doctor clear you for TRX. By working with an experienced trainer, you may be able to develop a TRX program that works the rest of your muscles without putting added pressure on any painful joints or injured joints.
If you have been doing a tough suspension workout like TRX before becoming pregnant, chances are your doctor will let you continue for a little while as long as you are not having any pregnancy-related problems. You will be able to take the stress off your joints and modify the workout to meet your changing needs. Work closely with a trainer who is very experienced working with pregnant women to be sure this is safe.
But as your belly grows, you will have to stop all suspended core exercises. And you should not do any exercises in the third trimester where you lie on your back, because this is bad for the blood flow to your baby.
TRX Review: Don’t Believe the Hype
OK, here’s the deal:
I’ve owned and used a TRX Suspension Trainer on and off for over 6 years, and it’s the first thing I pack when I’m on the road.
But it’s far from perfect…
(And at $180 or thereabouts, it’s not exactly cheap, either)
So, if you’re thinking about getting hold of one, check out this no-holds-barred TRX review first.
That way you can decide if it’s really for you.
The TRX Suspension Trainer: Born by SEALs
The TRX story reads almost like a script for a Hollywood movie…
Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick had been experimenting with ways to keep in shape while on deployment.
Using an old jiu-jitsu belt and some parachute webbing, he pieced together something that allowed him to do a wide variety of bodyweight exercises and stay “mission fit on the road”.
Seeing the potential, Randy worked tirelessly to develop that something into the TRX we know today.
And it hasn’t stopped there…
His company now has a whole range of different products, exercise classes, trainer certification courses, and a huge number of devoted followers.
So it’s been a huge success story that all began with one man’s idea of how to solve a practical problem.
But let’s dig a little deeper and see if the TRX is as almighty as their marketing machine makes out.
TRX Review: Pros
The coolest thing about the TRX is how small and light it is.
It weighs in at a tad over 2 pounds and is about the same size as a six pack of Sapporo Classic
So you can squeeze it into a bag, rucksack or suitcase without any problem.
Even better, you can use it pretty much anywhere.
I’ve exercised with the TRX on a beach in the UK, a hotel room in California, and a park in Tokyo.
This was taken in summer 2013, just a few months before I started my year-long “eat as much as you can” odyssey.
And yes, I’ve had more than my fair share of odd looks from passersby who must have wondered what the hell I was up to!
Well, I just love the fact that you can do “upper-body pull” exercises with it, like this:
Think of that as an alternative to chin-ups for folks who can’t yet do chin-ups…
…or for folks who can, but don’t have access to a chin-up bar.
(For me, that’s almost the deal maker in itself)
The TRX also has a low barrier to entry, meaning that pretty much anyone can do some kind of exercise with it.
So if you can’t yet do single-leg lunges or the incline shoulder press (the exercise I’m doing hanging upside down on the beach), don’t worry.
There are always easier alternatives that are just right for your current level of ability and strength.
In fact, guess what piece of equipment we used during the early part of Simon R’s incredible comeback after a horrifying skiing accident?
Yep, the TRX.
And let’s also keep in mind how important appearance can be when you’re just starting out…
To some folks, a barbell and power rack can seem pretty intimidating at first – kind of like learning to drive in a HUMVEE.
By comparison, the TRX comes across as much more user friendly.
And, as you’d expect for something developed by a Navy SEAL, it’s also pretty much bombproof.
(Mine’s still going strong after 6+ years, and more travel than I can remember)
So, here’s the bottom line:
The TRX is a light, portable and convenient piece of equipment that will allow almost anyone to do some kind of exercise pretty much anywhere.
TRX Review: Cons
As with most things, the TRX is far from perfect.
Like any tool, how useful it is really depends on the task you want to use it for.
A Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman could help to save your life in some situations but in others (rebuilding an engine, mowing the lawn) they’re essentially useless.
And here’s what that means for you and me:
The TRX is NOT an effective piece of equipment for folks that want to train for strength.
Sure, exercises can be made harder or easier, but it’s not possible to do that with the fine degree of precision that training requires.
After all, strength training ultimately comes down to accumulating small increments of progress (think just 1 or 2% per workout) over weeks, months and years.
Unfortunately, that’s impossible with a TRX since “easier” and “harder” can’t be quantified.
And if they can’t be quantified, how do you know if you’re really getting stronger?
Which means the TRX isn’t an effective way to build the kind of strength that will take you close to your ultimate physical potential.
(And, to be honest, I don’t think it was originally developed with that in mind)
Remember how TRX inventor Randy Hetrick talks about “staying mission fit on the road”?
“On the road” implies doing the best you can with what you’ve got rather than being optimal.
So, while using a TRX results in some modest strength gains, there are much more effective ways.
Check out this video with UDT/SEAL instructor Lt Dana Decoster demonstrating the exercises he recommends…
You’ve got it:
The barbell squat, standing press, and deadlift.
So, here’s the upshot:
Getting as strong as our physical potential allows is something that happens just a few pounds at a time.
And it’s simply not practical to do that using the TRX.
TRX Review: How Did it Work Out for Me?
Now, I’ve got firsthand experience of the shortcomings of the TRX when it comes to building strength.
Because throughout 2008 I exercised pretty much exclusively with the TRX…
…but could never do the incline shoulder press.
(That’s the one we saw earlier)
Seriously, it was just impossible.
And it wasn’t for a lack of trying…
I did all the suggested progressions, sweated a lot, swore even more, and put in a TON of effort.
But doing a full-on incline shoulder press seemed beyond me…
(Check out this video of TRX’s Director of Training & Development, Fraser Quelch, and Director of Human Performance, Chris Frankel, struggling to perform even a single repetition of this very exercise)
Man, it’s hard!
But get this:
Within a year of concentrating exclusively on barbell training, my standing barbell press steadily increased to just over 70% of my bodyweight.
(During that time I didn’t use my TRX at all)
But on summer vacation, I tried the incline shoulder press on the beach…
…and was able to do it easily!
In fact, within just a few days, I could bust out 5 solid repetitions with my body pretty much vertical.
And here’s what I realized:
Just because something is an impressive way to display strength doesn’t mean it’s an effective way to build strength
In reality, the best exercises I’ve found for improving my TRX performance are:
Barbell squats, deadlifts, standing presses, bench presses, and weighted chin-ups.
So, keep that in the back of your mind when you see folks doing all kinds of incredible stuff with their TRXs…
The TRX: Should I Get One?
Ultimately, the TRX is just a tool.
For some jobs (like building a strong back), a TRX is going to be of marginal benefit.
For other jobs (like getting in some exercise when you’re on the road), it’s hands down the best thing out there.
So, here’s what it boils down to:
If you have a gym membership or a fully-equipped home gym, and rarely miss a workout through travel, keep your money in your pocket.
But if you spend a lot of time on the road or are looking for an easy and convenient way to get started with exercise, it’s well worth getting hold of one.
A TRX that you use consistently is way better than a world-class gym that you don’t.
Now, if you do decide to get hold of a TRX, the plain vanilla TRX Home is the one I’d go for.
The PRO and TRX Force Kit: Tactical are significantly more expensive, and I can’t see that they’re worth the extra cash.
And their much vaunted Rip Trainer?
Well, let’s just say that isn’t going to be on my Christmas list anytime soon.
Ultimately, it’s best to think of the TRX as a Leatherman or a Swiss Army knife.
You can get by without it…
…but when you’re stuck, you’re glad that you’re carrying one.
I’ll be sure to pack mine in my bag before my next vacation.
Bigstock, The U.S. Army
Suspension Training: The advantages and disadvantages
As a fitness course provider, it is vital that we are keeping up to date with the latest industry trends. One of the more popular trends over the last decade has been the introduction of suspension training. Suspension training is considered a resistance based training method involving a system of ropes, straps and handles to allow the user to work against their own bodyweight.
Some of the brands associated to suspension training devices include TRX and CrankIt, both of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. In my experience, both devices work well and will be more than capable of providing clients with an engaging, enjoyable, yet challenging training session.
From the Personal Trainer point of view, one of the great advantages of utilising suspension training devices is that they are a portable piece of equipment which can be adapted to almost all training scenarios. If you are a PT who works within the gym environment you can quite easily anchor them from many exercise machines. In addition to this, if you are a PT who works outdoors they have the flexibility of being able to be anchored from trees, playground equipment, light poles or goal posts. Essentially wherever you run your sessions, there will no doubt be an option available to utilise suspension training methods. Beyond this, suspension training methods also allow the Personal Trainer to program for many different forms of basic resistance exercises including; squats, push ups, pull ups, and the plank as well as more complex movements such as squats jumps, lunge jumps, the pike and the standing dive just to name a few. If you’re looking to include some cardiovascular exercises into the program then the suspension training device can also help with exercises such as sprinters and mountain climbers. All in all suspension training should be considered is an excellent, versatile tool for all Personal Trainers.
From the clients point of view this training method has many advantages. One of these advantages is the development of functional strength. Functional strength, is that considered to be important to activities of daily life and is best demonstrated in suspension training through the ability to move in multiple planes. As human beings we are not robots, we do not only move forwards and backwards, we also have the capacity to move side to side and rotate. Suspension training exercises allow you to move through each of these phases individually and in some cases more than one plane at a time. Look up the rotational pull! Another advantage includes greater amounts of core activation and stability due to the fact that these exercises are unsupported and the core muscles need to be activated to protect the lower back. This increased activation of stabiliser muscles around the core as well as at other joints such as the shoulder and hip may also assist with the prevention of injury.
On the negative side, suspension training exercises, due to their unsupported nature can be quite complex and not always the first choice for beginners to resistance training. The following considerations should be made when working with suspension training devices. These include; breathing, tension in the straps and positioning of the body. Clients are encouraged to focus on breathing technique during each exercise. It is recommended that the client breathe in through the nose during the relaxation phase and breath out through the mouth on the exertion phase. Tension should be maintained in the straps at all times throughout the exercise to avoid injury and the client should look to avoid rounding of the lower back and hunching of the shoulders at all times.
Suspension training opens up a huge array of exercises and uses to a personal trainer. If you’d like to know more, we offer both an online and face-to-face course on the subject, aptly named Suspension Training for Personal Trainers. You can find out more by visiting our workshops page.
- Masters in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning)
- Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education)
- Certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness
- Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment
Pros and Cons of TRX
TRX is a tool similar to that of a dumbbell or barbell. It is a unique training method that involves use of external loads to perform workouts. There are different pros and cons of TRX. With the help of TRX, you can easily training pulling action very easily anywhere with flexible movement and better stability. At the same time, TRX also limits your training movement of lower body. Therefore it is important to choose the right kind of TRX training equipment according to your requirement.
Choosing the right kind of training equipment can make the training effort more effective. Doing hard workouts require choosing certain specific tools and these external TRX is a company that provides equipment for suspension based training. One of the most prominent equipment sold by the company is mainly suspension straps that you would use for the suspension workouts.
There are several good things about choosing TRX equipment and it is important to know how to use TRX in an integrated way and performing suspension training. You can make use of lot of dynamic core training with longer levers, pulling movements and improving stability. It is a reasonable good habit to use it for improving muscular endurance by using these training techniques for longer duration.
Let us go through some of the pros and cons of TRX to understand better and use the equipment effectively.
Pros of TRX
Here are some most important pros of TRX.
- One of the most appreciated pros of TRX is the convenience and ease with which it is performed.
- With the help of TRX, you can perform pulling action very easily with flexible movement plane. Pulling is one of the most difficult to perform mechanism (be it chin up or even using a train for vertical pulling mechanism). But it becomes easy as one of the pros of TRX.
- It gives high endurance to your muscles as the lower portion of your body is able to perform shelf and squats etc.
- You can also train the lower portion of the body and you can use the O-rings as well. It can be uncomfortable to use it initially but one can use it with the training of lower body portion
- It can be used to allow unique closed chain variations with the help of TRX exercises and you can also do presses, fallouts and flutters etc. A choice of variations is one of the other pros of TRX.
- One of the biggest pros of TRX is that it improves the stability. You can use TRX for providing better stability to your hips and shoulders. It can make the movement slightly more challenging compared to adding load.
- You can use TRX for conditioning purposes, one of the most popular pros of TRX. You may not stand more of the other traditional cardiovascular exercises.
- Another good use and best pros of TRX is that you can use it while travelling and while going for work. You can easily use TRX for training outdoors and enjoy it even during your vacation outings.
- Other pros of TRX include giving an advantage to lose some weight. Suspension training can be a useful form of training to lose some weight along with achieving better flexibility.
- Suspension based training programs can be integrated with other methods such as running or trying to achieve better training.
Apart from the pros of TRX, other important aspect is that the company provides best support and service and one can use it without breaking down and can be easily be skipped. The price of equipment is quite reasonable compared to other similar products in market.
Cons of TRX
As against the pros, there are few cons of TRX too. Here are some of them.
- It is also difficult to train to the true strength of TRX since stability demands decrease in force production capability. It is just the nature of the tool but one of the cons of TRX. So you can combine it to use with barbell training and get more complete method of training.
- Another cons of TRX is that your training usage of lower body gets restricted. You can add certain jumping exercises and single leg exercises but it cannot give you a decent condition effect compared to other exercises. You really need to work a lot to train your legs in the effective manner using TRX.
- V shape is yet another cons of TRX as it makes the pressing movement lot more uncomfortable and also forms a different feeling angle which can make your movement difficult. Choosing the right kind of equipment is extremely important.
- In order to make use of TRX for some kind of density and circuit training, you need to do a lot of adjustments to make use of different exercises. You need to stop and change the system for changing the levels of training, which may be time consuming and also loses the tempo. This too is one of the important cons of TRX.
- It is also quite expensive compared to other methods of suspension training methods so being highly priced is another cons of TRX.
TRX is a great piece of equipment and there are different pros and cons of TRX. You can easily get good training equipment with the help of TRX and start doing your own suspension training exercises today. It is important to note that the training requires choosing a membership so it is important to explore all possible options before finalizing on investing on the external load.
- 6 Best TRX Arm Workouts
- How to Maintain Fitness Level with TRX & Can it Help Banish Fat?
- What Does TRX Stand For & What is it Good For?
- Full Body TRX Workout for Beginners & Benefits of TRX Workout
- What are the Benefits of TRX Pull Ups & How to do TRX Pull Ups?
Are TRX Workouts Actually Effective?
Someone recently asked me this very question, so I thought it might be helpful if I dedicated today’s blog post to the answer.
The first thing you’re probably wondering is what are TRX workouts?
Basically, they are a type of suspension training, where you use your body weight as the primary form of resistance.
TRX is one of the companies that provides the equipment to do this type of training – and, due to their massive success, the name TRX has become almost synonymous with suspension training in recent years.
Although they now sell all sorts of equipment under the TRX brand, their bread and butter is the suspension straps that you would use for the bulk of these suspension workouts.
These are very versatile, and can be used pretty much anywhere, making them an interesting option for those that don’t see themselves consistently training at the same gym.
But, as you probably know, there are a lot of fancy workout contraptions out there, and in my opinion most of them simply aren’t worth the money.
Are TRX bands any different?
Well, like many things, there isn’t a black and white answer to this question. They can be useful, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, but they certainly aren’t for everybody…
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of doing TRX workouts, so that you can get a better sense of whether they’re a good option for you.
The High Protein Cheat Sheet
If you want to build muscle and strength, getting enough protein is key. The High Protein Cheat Sheet is a handy reference guide that shows you which foods are highest in protein, so you can easily add more protein to your diet!
The Pros Of TRX Workouts
As I said before, TRX has gained a lot of popularity in recent years…
Indeed, many athletes – including professional baseball players and MMA fighters – are now ardent devotees of this type of training.
Here are some of the specific advantages of doing TRX training.
1) A gym membership isn’t required.
Some guys don’t want to spend the money to join a gym, have a schedule that doesn’t allow for it – or simply don’t like working out at gyms!
If this sounds like you, then TRX workouts may be a good option to consider.
You can pick up their home-based training kit from Amazon for $170 here.
While this is obviously a sizable purchase, you only have to make it once and then you’re all set.
Then, if you want, you can toss your gym membership, and can literally start training anywhere you like (at home, outside, etc).
2) You can do your workouts in one place.
Now, assuming that you do like to workout at a gym, there is still a potential advantage to TRX workouts.
That is, you don’t have to go from machine to machine as part of your workout routine; instead, you can simply setup your TRX bands and do your entire workout in one place.
This can provide a simpler overall workout experience for some people, and will mean that you won’t interrupt the momentum of your workouts when you have to wait for a machine that someone else is using.
3) Good for building core strength.
One of the big selling points for TRX workouts is that they really help develop your core strength.
And this is certainly true – at least to some extent…
Basically, since you are having to stabilize yourself as part of pretty much every exercise that you’ll do using TRX bands, it can help to develop a strong, solid core.
This is useful for a number of reasons, but is especially important for injury prevention.
4) Increase your muscular endurance.
Since you are training with your own body weight, the focus of TRX workouts will generally be high-repetitions.
And while you can adjust resistance to some degree on the bands, it is more limited in that respect than if you were training with free weights.
However, if you are focused on building up your muscle endurance – as opposed to strength and size – then this might be ideal for you.
This is especially true if you are training for a specific sport, or other endurance-based activities.
5) You may save some money.
As I mentioned before, the TRX system is a one-time purchase.
You don’t have to pay for a monthly gym membership, which can certainly add up over time.
And, while it may seem expensive, if you compare it to having to buy a whole bunch of free weights, it comes out to be significantly cheaper.
The Cons Of TRX Workouts
Now that we’ve examined the positive aspects of doing TRX workouts, let’s look at the potential downsides.
1) Not as effective for building strength.
Compared to proper training with free weights, you aren’t going to build as much strength doing TRX workouts.
Yes, I know there are some people that would disagree with me, but they are simply wrong…
You see, there is a limit to how strong you are going to get training with something that provides fairly limited – and often imprecise – levels of resistance.
This doesn’t mean that the exercises aren’t hard to do – they certainly are – but the amount of weight that you are lifting is much less than what you can achieve with free weights.
It simply isn’t your best bet if one of your main goals is to get stronger.
2) Not as effective for building muscle size.
Following on from the above point, TRX workouts aren’t going to help you achieve that big, muscular look as effectively as training with free weights.
Muscular hypertrophy is most effectively induced by progressive overload – and the potential to induce this is more limited using TRX bands compared to more traditional weight training.
So, if you are mostly training to look good, TRX workouts probably aren’t going to be a good option for you.
3) They can be an acquired taste.
No doubt about it, these things simply aren’t for everyone…
If you really like lifting weights, then you are going to miss those sorts of movements if you try to switch to TRX workouts exclusively.
From personal experience, I can pretty much guarantee you that much!
I have known many guys that have purchased these things, brought them to the gym for a few weeks as a novelty – but then stopped using them completely after a month or so.
Suspension training is undoubtedly an acquired taste – and one that, in my experience, many guys will simply never acquire.
Summing it all up
So, should you go out and order TRX bands for yourself?
My honest recommendation would be to hold off, unless you are confident that this type of training really makes sense for you.
There is a lot of hype around these at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that they are your best option.
The last thing you want to do is pay almost $200 for a fancy contraption that you rarely use.
So, here is my specific recommendation:
If you are already working out at a gym, and are focusing primarily on strength and size, then you definitely can give these a miss.
On the other hand, if you don’t work out at a gym – or would prefer to exercise at a home/outside – AND you are more concerned with endurance training, then you may want to consider ordering yourself a set.
However, the bottom line is that these really aren’t the best option for most guys that are exercising primarily to look better.
If that sounds like you, then save yourself the money and start following a sensible strength training program with weights instead.
Are you considering doing TRX workouts? Are you already an avid devotee? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.