How It Works
Want to push your body like the Navy SEALs do? Try TRX suspension training, which uses gravity and your body weight to make workouts more challenging.
Heavy-duty adjustable straps, similar to the SEALs’ parachute webbing, are the basis of TRX. You can either buy straps (which cost about $200) and anchoring gear to use on your own, or take a TRX class at a gym or specialty studio.
Pretty much any exercise you do without TRX -- like a plank or a pushup, a crunch or a chest press -- can be made more challenging with it. You can get a serious workout in a relatively short period of time.
Intensity Level: Medium
If you take TRX to the limit, you can push your body really hard. You’ll sweat for sure.
But if you're not that fit, you can back off on the intensity and still get a challenging workout. It all depends on how you position your body.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. No matter what exercise you’re doing on the TRX (and there are hundreds), almost every one of them challenges your core.
Arms: Yes. There are many possible arm and upper body exercises to do on TRX.
Legs: Yes. You’re almost always working your legs in some way with most TRX exercises.
Glutes: Yes. Your glutes get a lot of work with most suspension exercises, and you can always choose specific butt-targeting moves if you want.
Back: Yes. You’re using your entire core, including your back muscles, at all times to maintain stability.
Flexibility: Yes. TRX training is great for flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Aerobic: Yes. Although suspension training is a strength workout, you’ll almost certainly find your heart pounding after even a brief session. The workout’s creators also offer a “TRX Cardio Circuit” workout.
Strength: Yes. Suspension training pushes your strength in unique ways. Be prepared to use muscles you didn’t know you had!
Low-Impact: Yes. There’s little lower-body impact with suspension training.
What Else Should I Know?
Cost: Buying your own set of straps from the TRX company costs about $200. If you want to do TRX at the gym, there’s the cost of the membership plus any class or trainer fees.
Good for Beginners: Surprisingly, yes. As challenging as it is, TRX can also be modified for people who are just starting out. You should work with a trainer first to learn proper form and make sure you’re up to even the less intense moves.
Outdoors: You can do TRX outdoors as long as you have a stable place to anchor your straps.
At Home: Yes, TRX is specifically designed for use in a relatively small indoor space. You just need a stable spot (like a closed door) to anchor your straps.
Equipment Required: Yes. You at least need the suspension straps and something to anchor them to.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
TRX is a super-intense workout that can be adapted, but it's not for everyone. You need to have a basic level of fitness and coordination to get the most out of even the simplest TRX workouts and to be safe.
You should have a trainer working with you to be sure your technique is on target to help avoid injuries.
It is a great workout for you if you have limited time and space and are trying to get in or maintain top condition.
If you are out of shape or new to the gym, go for a slower, beginner TRX workout to build strength and muscle. Add a good aerobic activity like walking to get you in top shape before lunging into using TRX as an aerobic workout.
Do not attempt TRX if you have a medical problem, pain, or balance issues unless your doctor says it is OK. Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for injury.
Is It Good for Me if I Have a Health Condition?
A solid aerobic program with some added strength building is ideal for you if you have diabetes, as long as you have cleared it with your doctor. All of that muscle you build will burn more calories.
Make sure you start out at the level of training that is right for you. You may need to check your blood sugar before, during, and after any intense workout. You will also have to talk to your doctor about what changes may be needed in your diabetes treatment plan.
If you have knee or back injuries, arthritis, or physical limitations of any kind, have your doctor clear you for TRX. By working with an experienced trainer, you may be able to develop a TRX program that works the rest of your muscles without putting added pressure on any painful joints or injured joints.
If you have been doing a tough suspension workout like TRX before becoming pregnant, chances are your doctor will let you continue for a little while as long as you are not having any pregnancy-related problems. You will be able to take the stress off your joints and modify the workout to meet your changing needs. Work closely with a trainer who is very experienced working with pregnant women to be sure this is safe.
But as your belly grows, you will have to stop all suspended core exercises. And you should not do any exercises in the third trimester where you lie on your back, because this is bad for the blood flow to your baby.