Most everyone has at least heard of TRX by now.
Those black and yellow straps that hang from the ceiling at the gym and people twist around in them and stuff, right?
Well, kind of…
TRX is the brand of a couple different products; the Suspension Trainer which is the most common and has been around for about 6 years, and the Rip Trainer which was released in March 2011. Both products allow some of the greatest functionality of movement, core engagement and balance within exercises. What’s even more awesome is that the TRX products can be used for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The clients I have using The Suspension Trainer range from 16 years old to 80 years old, people that have back pain to people that want sports-specific training. The Suspension Trainer even helps overweight clientele perform squats correctly without pain in their hips, knees or feet! Bottom line: I am a huge advocate!
Because I love the Suspension Trainer SO much and I want everyone to experience it safely and correctly (and since I can’t be with you all day, every day), I am going to give you some basic, ground rules:
Every “TRXpert”/instructor should be using the universal language of TRX. I’ve included a picture for your viewing pleasure. Referring to this picture will help you throughout this article. Note: During exercise set-up, the closer your feet are placed to the anchor point, the more challenging the exercise will be due to the vector of your body (Physics 101, my friends!)
There are 6 “Deadly” Sins to remember when using The Suspension Trainer:
1. Starting incorrectly 2. Sawing 3. Slacking 4. Sagging 5. Scraping 6. Stopping. (They’re not really “deadly.” You won’t die if you accidentally start incorrectly, but you could hurt yourself, so pay attention!)
Starting Incorrectly: Be sure to start where you want to finish. For example: Biceps curl – start with your hands next to your temples and THEN adjust your feet to set your body at a shallow angle (shallow angle = easy; deep angle = hard). Wherever you decide to place your feet, your body should be in a straight, plank position. From there, keeping your core engaged and your body stabilized, fully extend the elbows allowing your body to lower back/down. Then, using only the biceps, bend at the elbows, pulling your body up and your hands returning next to your temples in the same position you started.
Sagging: Never let your body “sag” through the mid-section. I see a lot of people sag through theirbellies and pelvis during triceps press and also a lot of people who don’t “take their butt with them” when doing rows and chest presses. Remember: core engagement, stabilization and maintain great posture when doing standing exercises to decrease your risk of injury.
Sawing: Do not let the straps “saw” back and forth through the top stabilizing loop. For example: When doing Mountian Climbers, start on the floor in a plank position with your toes suspended in the foot cradles. Pull your right knee into your chest, leaving your left leg straight. Next, extend your right leg back and pull the left knee into your chest. Repeat, quickly. It is very easy to put more pressure into one foot cradle making the handles shift back and forth. Be aware of the pressure you are putting into both foot cradles and keep them level throughout the entire range of motion.
Slacking: Be sure to always keep the straps nice and tight. I see people allow slack when they are setting themselves up for a row or at the top of the range of motion during a row. That means their starting position was probably incorrect. If your starting position is correct, you have a greater chance of keeping the Suspension Trainer from slacking.
Scraping: Be aware of how close the straps are to your body during movement. Never allow the straps to scrape against your body. Best example of this is while doing chest presses. It is very easy to let the straps scrape along the tops of your arms while lowering and pressing. If that happens, raise the arms slightly to lift the straps off the arms and continue with the chest presses.
Stopping: Never stop moving! If the exercise is too difficult, move your feet (or, pivot point) away from the anchor point to reduce your body angle. You should be able to go from one exercise to the next without stopping – maybe a quick change of length on the straps, but it should be pretty fluid.