Whether you’ve used one before or not, chances are you’ve probably seen one of these black and yellow strap apparatuses hanging in your gym or at a local studio. It’s called the TRX® Suspension Trainer™. How does it work? Using a single anchor point — a door, wall, ceiling or specially designed mount — and your body weight, you can perform a variety of exercises to work your entire body in brand new ways.
The TRX system was originally created by Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick, who was looking for a way to stay in shape while he was deployed overseas. Connecting a jiu-jitsu belt to a parachute, he created the first prototype of the suspension trainer. Over time, Hetrick saw the commercial potential of a suspension trainer for all different types of individuals looking for a full-body workout using just their body weight. Thus, the TRX suspension trainer was born.
If you’re unfamiliar or have never used the TRX before, it’s time for that to change. Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from this kind of training:
1. IT’S PORTABLE
Not only can you use a TRX at the gym, it’s also a piece of equipment worth investing in for your home. As long as you have a door, wall or ceiling, you’ll have a place to hang it, and you don’t need a ton of space in order to use it. Plus, if you own one, you can take it with you anywhere due to its low-profile design. Translation: You can work out pretty much anywhere — just like the U.S. Olympic speedskating team does. “We introduced it to them over the past two years, and they use it now as a part of their routine,” explains Dan McDonogh, senior manager of performance training for Under Armour, who previously worked for TRX focusing on education and programming for the brand. “[The athletes] use it in their hotel rooms for mobility and flexibility after sitting on a plane for so long.”
2. YOU CAN PERFORM MORE THAN 300 EXERCISES
That’s not a typo. With this single contraption, you can actually do more than 300 exercises. Better yet: the exercises all use your body weight, so you don’t need any other equipment. “One move can morph into another, so the amount of exercises you can do on the TRX are really endless,” says McDonogh. Not sure where to start? When you buy a TRX Suspension Trainer, you also get a 1 year subscription to the TRX App, which has a library of videos and photos of all the exercises and how to perform them, so you’ll always know exactly what to do.
3. IT’S “ALL CORE, ALL THE TIME”
Because the TRX uses a single anchor point for mounting, any exercise you do will force you to resist rotation. “You’ll have to activate your core in order to stabilize,” says McDonogh, “even on a shallow angle.” So even if you’re not doing an ab-specific workout, you’ll still be firing up your core.
4. YOU CAN CHANGE THE POINT OF INSTABILITY
If you’re a tennis player, your body is moving but the ground isn’t. Your instability is coming from the top down. But if you’re an ice hockey player or curler, the ground is unstable, so your instability is coming from the ground up. One of the great things about the TRX is you can change the instability — based on your sport or goal — depending on whether you put your hands or feet in the TRX handles. “If your feet are on the ground and hands are on the handles, you’re creating instability from the top down, using your shoulders, arms and torso,” explains McDonogh. “If your hands are on the ground and your feet are suspended, you’re creating instability from the ground up, forcing you to use your quads, glutes and core.”
5. YOU CAN CHANGE THE LOAD INSTANTANEOUSLY
When you’re doing more traditional weightlifting and a weight feels too heavy (or too light), you have to stop, re-rack the weight, choose a new one and then (finally) get back to business. With the TRX, if an exercise is feeling too hard or too easy, you can change the load immediately by simply changing the angle at which you’re performing the move. “If you’re doing a row, move your feet closer to the anchor to make it harder … [move your feet] further away, and it’s easier,” says McDonogh. “You can have a whole class of people doing the same exercise, but each person can make the move harder or easier depending on the angle they set their body.”