If you go to the gym or read fitness magazines, you’ve probably seen or heard about TRX training. It is a super-hot form of exercise right now that is hogging the headlines in the fitness world. Mixed martial artists, physiotherapists and everyday exercisers can’t seem to get enough of working with the TRX system.
When you consider the thousands of dollars that most pieces of equipment at the gym cost, it is remarkable that something that costs less than $200 could be making such an impact. So…. what’s so great about TRX training?
To begin, it’s helpful to understand what TRX actually means. Total body, Resistance, eXercise. As opposed to traditional bodybuilding exercises (or machines), which isolate one muscle at a time, working your biceps with the TRX can only work if you are ALSO flexing your core, stabilizing with your lower back, your glutes, your hips, upper back, shoulders etc… It is incredibly effective at working LOTS of muscles all at the same. In other words, you get more work done in less time. This is precisely why physiotherapists and rehab specialists like it so much. Like Pilates, it helps people to become stronger in the abdominals and core without having to do “core or ab only” workouts.
The style of training that TRX (which is a brand name for the product) uses is referred to as “suspension training”. Simply put, the exerciser is suspended from a high point, gripping the handles of the TRX system to perform a series of pushing, pulling, rotating and stabilizing moves. ALL of them can only work if you contract your core while performing them. In essence, the exerciser focuses on “movements” as opposed to “muscles”.
Developed by a former Navy Seal using parachute straps in the 1990’s, the piece of equipment known as TRX started to be marketed around 2005. An impressive climb in a short period of time. There are many other “suspension training” devices, but, like Kleenex is to tissue, TRX rules the landscape.
The limitation with suspension training is that if someone wanted to build significant amounts of muscle bulk, it is difficult to overload the muscles (and also to isolate the muscles) to the point of early muscle failure within the 8- 12 repetition range. That is where traditional bodybuilding would come in. There is a time and a place for everything!
For the average exerciser, however, the TRX suspension training system is an incredible tool that is inexpensive, effective and even portable that will bring fantastic results when it is added to a fitness program. Either on it’s own, or, as a cross training tool for a change of pace.