With the many kinds of fitness programs and systems out there, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. Depending on your fitness goals, or what you’ve heard from family, friends, and colleagues, it may take some time to find what you need.
One fitness program to consider is the TRX Suspension Training System, developed by the Navy SEALs. It’s used not only in the Navy, but throughout all the branches of the U.S. military, along by Olympians, UFC, NBA, NFL, and other elite athletes.
But you don’t have to be a top-level athlete to use the TRX Suspension Trainer. One of the benefits is its accessibility—mostly anyone can use it. Plus, it’s portable (it weighs only 2 pounds), so you can use it practically anywhere—at home, in the gym, in a hotel while you’re traveling, or outside. And you’ll probably never get bored using it, because you can perform hundreds of different exercises. Because of its portability, TRX is much more affordable than other training systems which are bulkier and can costs thousands of dollars.
How the TRX Suspension Training System Works
The TRX Suspension has durable nylon straps with handles at the ends and can hold up to 350 pounds. The system uses your own body weight and gravity for a total-body workout. The nylon straps are adjustable, which means you can adjust the resistance.
There are four kinds of straps in the TRX Suspension Training System.
- The short (S) strap is primarily used for exercises which target the back.
- The long (L) strap is generally used for chest exercises.
- The mid-length (M) strap is typically used for standing exercises.
- The mid-calf (MC) strap is mostly used for ground exercises.
If you’re looking to improve your core muscles, TRX will help because the trainer forces you to engage your core. Not only will you have a killer core, you’ll quickly improve your overall strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance while using the TRX.
The TRX uses 6 main body positions, which are relative to the anchor point. Three are standing positions and three are ground positions.
- Facing – body is facing the anchor point
- Facing Away – body facing away from the anchor point
- Sideways – body is positioned sideways to the anchor point
- Facing Floor – body is prone and facing the floor with your toes placed in the foot cradles
- Facing Up – body is supine (lying facing upward), with heels placed in the foot cradles
- Side Lying – body is lying sideways, with feet placed in the foot cradles
When you’re first getting started, you’ll want to work with a TRX Qualified Trainer to set up your equipment correctly, get the best form, and ensure that you prevent injury or overexertion.
What Science Has to Say About TRX
TRX has been around for close to two decades, starting out with a jiu jitsu belt and some parachute webbing, and now has a complete workout system and movement. If you're looking for some science to see how TRX can help improve your fitness and strength, here’s a summary of what some of the studies involving TRX have discovered:
The Benefit of Instability
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research did a 2014 study analyzing how adding instability to exercises can help to improve core muscles. The TRX topped many stable exercises for core muscles and had comparable results for stable exercises involving other muscle groups, mainly upper body.
The Australian Fitness Network analyzed the effectiveness of suspension training through EMG or electromyography, which records how much electrical activity is created by skeletal muscles. Specifically, favorable results were reported for muscle activation in the trunk and torso. Those who suffer from lower back pain may be better helped through TRX suspension training. TRX can also improve cardio health, although not as effectively as other kinds of exercise.
Another muscle activation study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also used EMG to look at how the TRX performed with a variety of plank exercises. The study focused on 4 muscles: the rectus abdominis, external oblique, rectus femoris, and serratus anterior muscles. By creating more instability through the use of the TRX suspension system, the tested muscles were further engaged than with a normal plank exercise position.
Seniors Using TRX
As previously stated, the TRX can be used by many populations, including older adults. This study in the International Journal of Exercise Science examined if using the TRX was feasible for elders. Most participants after the study said they were motivated continue using TRX, mostly reporting strength gains.
An Investigation of Health Benefits with the TRX
The American Council on Exercise sponsored research examining the health benefits of using TRX. For 6 weeks, participants in the study added the TRX into a 60-minute, three-day-a-week exercise routine. Study participants lost fat, gained muscle, and improved their cardiovascular health.
If you’re looking for an affordable, portable, total-body workout, check out the TRX Training Suspension System. You’ll be stunned by the results.