As a personal trainer, one of the areas I specialized in was TRX Suspension Training. The TRX Suspension Trainer is a fantastic piece of equipment that can be found at most gyms, and actually makes a relatively inexpensive, extremely versatile addition to any home gym. The great thing about TRX is that it’s all abs all the time. So, whether you’re targeting your chest, back, arms, legs, doesn’t matter, your abs are working!
This particular workout focuses on you guessed it, arms and abs. To get started you will need access to a TRX Suspension Trainer as well as a sand filled medicine ball (you’ll understand why the sand in a bit). I used a 10 pound ball.
Now, for a bit of an orientation on the TRX. During some of the exercises, I will refer to the anchor point, which is this part pictured here, where the TRX is anchored to it’s support. My TRX was set up with the anchor point about 5 inches above my highest reach, if yours is higher you will need to lengthen the straps accordingly. For the all exercises except the TRX plank, I use the shortest length, meaning the adjustment tabs are up as high as they can go. Again, you may be more comfortable at a different length based on your height as well as how high up your TRX is anchored. In general with the TRX, the exercise becomes more difficult the further you walk your feet from the anchor point. Likewise, the closer you bring your feet to the anchor point, the easier the exercise will be.
I do also want to give a quick reminder that this is an example of a workout I would do and neither a personal recommendation for you, nor medical advice. Please progress or regress exercises as appropriate, and consult your physician before beginning or modifying an exercise plan.
Alright enough business, on to the fun stuff!
This workout is broken down into three circuits, each with three exercises. Start off with a 3-5 minute warm up, either walking, light biking, or even an easy set through the circuits would do. For the first circuit, complete exercises 1-3, rest, and then go back and repeat exercises 1-3 again, for a total of 2-4 sets. Perform exercises 4-6, and 7-9 in the same way. And, don’t forget to cool down! Post-workout is also the best time to stretch. Think about your muscles like rubber bands, when they’re warm, they’re far easier to stretch. Fun fact: static stretching before a workout can actually increase injury risk, it’s basically like stretching out a cold rubber band and then hanging weights from it. Yikes! If I’m feeling sore before I workout, I’ll usually spend some time with the foam roller, and then make sure I get in a really great dynamic warm up.
Ok, seriously though, the fun stuff!
TRX Chest Press
Begin facing away from the anchor point, holding the TRX handles with your palms facing backwards, and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Walk your feet back a comfortable distance; the further back you go the more difficult the exercise becomes. Working to keep your hands from moving forward, back, or side to side, lower yourself down as if to do a push-up. Once your elbows are in line with your shoulders, press back up and return to the starting position. If the straps rub against your arms, bring your hands forward a bit. As I said earlier, the TRX is all abs all the time, so for this one it’s important to keep your hips forward so your abs are engaged, and you aren’t overstressing your back.
TRX Low Row
This time face toward the anchor point, holding the TRX handles with your palms facing inward, hands about shoulder width apart, and arms straight out from your shoulders like a zombie. Pull the straps taught and walk your feet forward a comfortable distance; the further forward you go, the more difficult the exercise will be. Squeezing your shoulder blades together to engage your back, bend your elbows and bring them in next to your sides, raising yourself up. As you do, keep your hips lifted so your abs are engaged and once again not overstressing your back. Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
TRX Jump Squat
Start facing the anchor point, take a shoulder-width grip on the TRX with your palms facing inward, and arms bent at about 90 degrees. Squat down as low as you’re comfortable, I’m slightly lower than 90 degrees in this picture. From this position, jump up as high as you can, using the TRX for balance, but not a crutch to lift you up. You should be doing the majority of the work. To stay low impact skip the jump and raise up to standing instead.
Begin standing straight up, gripping the medicine ball with your palms facing each other. This exercise is a little more simple, so take a moment to make sure you’ve got good posture, meaning your shoulders are back, knees unlocked, and hips are neutral (not sticking out your booty or pushing your hips forward). Slowly lift the ball up to shoulder height, and return to the starting point.
TRX T Deltoid Fly
For this one you will start in a position similar to the TRX Back Row, however I recommend starting with your feet a little further back, as we will be working primarily the posterior deltoid (back of the shoulder), which is a relatively small muscle. Beginning with your arms straight in front of you, keep them as straight as you can and pull them arms out to either side, creating a letter “T”. This one’s super tough, so don’t feel bad if you have to start with your feet maybe 1/2 step in front of you. You’re still getting a great workout, I promise!
Medicine Ball Slam
I love this exercise, especially if you’ve got some extra tension you want to get out! This is the one in particular that requires a sand filled medicine ball. If your ball isn’t filled with something to weigh it down, it will bounce right back at you. Alright now for the fun part! Start holding the ball straight up above your head, feet shoulder width apart. Throw the ball on the ground as hard as you can, bend your knees and get down into it. Then, squat down further to pick up the ball, and do it again! To protect your back, keep your abs strong throughout the movement, and bend at your knees rather than folding forward from your hips.
Alright, so the next one requires a bit of an intro. It is called the TRX plank, and it is awesome!
Adjust your straps so the foot cradles are about a foot off the ground. Now, sit down in from of the TRX with your feet out in front of you. Cross your legs, and put your toes into the cradles. Now, whichever leg is on top, you will flip the opposite direction to get onto your stomach and into the plank position. My LEFT leg was is on top, so I flip to the RIGHT to get on my belly and into plank position. So, basically you’re turning to uncross your legs and end up on your belly. Like this:
Once you have reached your belly with your toes in the straps, come up onto your forearm so your shoulders, hips, and feet are in a straight line. Your elbows should also be right below your shoulders. Press your belly button back toward your spine, this helps to engage your abs and protect your back. Hold this for 20 seconds. I’m not gonna lie this is pretty tough to do. If you haven’t done this one before, still set your timer for 20 seconds but drop to your knees and rest as needed. Each time you do it, try and take 1 fewer rest break, you’ll be doing the whole 20 seconds in no time!
This is one of those exercises that seems like nothing but is actually pretty tough to hold. Start lying on your belly, and lift your hands and feet up off the ground. Squeeze your glutes and lower back. Hold here for 1 minute, or again if that’s too much, still set your timer for 1 minute and rest as needed.
Last one! So, for the wood chop, start with your feet a wider than shoulder width, holding the medicine ball down in front of you. Shift your weight to your right side, and bring the ball down toward the outside of your knee. As you make this twisting motion, keep your abs engaged. From here, twist the opposite direction and bring the ball up and do the left. Keep your abs engaged throughout the movement and pop your right heel up as you reach the tip, this helps to protect your knee and spine.
Whew! I love this workout, and I hope you do too! Do you use the TRX for your workouts?