By Marta Ustyanich
Photos Of Dave Shutler By Brian Landis
If you’re accustomed to throwing around iron and you stick to heavy resistance training to get your pump, you might be quick to dismiss TRX training as just another gimmick in an endless parade of fitness fads that sooner take a chunk out of your wallet than your fitness goals. But since all you’re using is your body weight and a fairly simple system of straps, this suspended mode of training can come off as deceivingly easy.
More For Less
In fact, TRX training was developed by a former Navy SEAL, and is designed to deliver a serious workout by challenging every muscle along your kinetic chain — especially your core — as your body works to stabilize itself while resisting gravity. That’s why elite athletes in all kinds of sports — basketball, hockey, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse, MMA, and even swimming — incorporate this functional form of training both on- and off-season to help them up their game. Rather than isolating individual muscles like in traditional resistance training, TRX focuses on improving performance through dynamic moves that engage the entire body and call on its full range of motion.
“When you’re a high-level athlete, you have to be functional — you have to be fast, you have to be explosive, and you have to be responsive,” says certified TRX instructor and designer of this workout, Leroy Alexis, CPT, who counts pro hockey and basketball players among the elite-level clients at his Lean Body Studio in Mississauga, Ontario. On the field or on the court, the whole body is engaged to execute fast and explosive moves. The legs, hips, and core drive the motion, and the body needs to perform like a well-oiled machine, with all the muscles working in tandem to execute complex maneuvers.
“There’s no ceiling with TRX,” explains Alexis. Unlike resistance training, which limits your muscle growth to a restricted range of motion, suspension training allows for more mobility (like core rotation), making it a functional form of training that develops strength, balance, and flexibility through the body’s natural movements. So even if you’re not an elite athlete, the benefits of TRX training still extend beyond the gym floor or the playing field, since your core is an active player in most of your everyday activities.
A Huge Difference
But particularly important for pro athletes looking to avoid injury is the low-impact and low-risk nature of this type of training. “When you’re lifting heavy weight, you feel the strain on your bones because it’s weightbearing,” explains Alexis. “But TRX isn’t weight-bearing at all, and because your muscles are activated right away, your joints are actually more protected.” And since you’re only using your body weight for resistance, there’s no chance of over-exerting yourself — your body will know the limits of what it can handle.