Suspension training is one of my favorite ways to build strength and mobility in clients of all experience levels. From rehab patients to pro athletes, there is always room to program some TRX exercises or other forms of suspension training. The great thing about TRX and other suspension training products is that they are highly scalable, versatile and, most important, effective.
You may have mastered some of the common TRX exercises such as the Row, Push-Up and Curl. You might even have some advanced moves in your repertoire like the Atomic Push-Up, Single-Leg Burpees and Pike-Ups. If you're looking to take it to the next level, the following three moves may be for you. Check them out, work them into your workout and let us know what you think!
1. Wide Row
The key to this move is setting up anchor points at a proper width. On actual TRX straps, the two handles are connected to the same anchor so you have to implement a second set to execute this. On Jungle Gym straps, each handle has its own anchor so you can set up as seen in the video. Aim for 7-12 feet between your anchors, because you want to really reach out and up when performing this move.
Reach – Focus on reaching up and away during the eccentric portion of the exercise. You don't want to stop yourself short of full range of motion because that would risk losing activation of upper back and shoulder musculature. It could also lead to a potential tweak or injury.
Don't Over-Row – Let the handles dictate your range of motion. Don't try to force your elbows excessively behind your body. Row to feel your lats and try not to overextend your back or puff out your chest.
Elbows To Hips – Drive your elbows down and back, like you're trying to reach the most lateral bone in your hips. This motion helps you feel your lats during both the concentric and eccentric portions of the movement for maximum activation.
Lats – In my opinion, this variation works the lats more than any other row variation on the TRX straps. The upward rotation of the shoulder blades caused by the wide grip helps create a nice pulling angle to stimulate those hard-to-please lats of yours. Building strong and stable lats can have a huge carryover to the court, field or other major lifts in your program.
Core – As with anything on suspension straps, your core will be put to the test. Try not to push yourself into too much lumbar extension and, vice versa, don't let your hips sag either. Find neutral and execute the lift from there.
Loading – Throw on a weighted vest if you're looking for a little more resistance. These Rows with a weighted Push-Up make a killer superset for upper-body strength and size.
2. Inverted Single-Arm Row
Another great row variation and very simple to set up. Make your strap length about the same height off the floor as your belly button and adjust from there if needed. You'll have one hand on the handle and the other pointing straight up toward the sky. With your head under the anchor point, position the rest of your body in a bridge so your back is [near] parallel with the ground and your knees are bent around 90 degrees.
Reach – Again. This time you reach up as high as you can with your non-working arm, but without allowing your reach to bring you off balance. Reach through your shoulder, not your entire trunk. A little bit of rotation is good, but try not to let your rotation displace your foot stance.
Feel Hamstring – In order to keep the tabletop position to perform this exercise, you need to really engage those hammies. If you lose hamstring tension, your hips may drop—and if they drop, everything will follow.
Low Impact, High Reward – Sometimes working the posterior chain requires you to get into uncomfortable positions. Or better yet, positions that you're not quite comfortable with loading. This exercise doesn't require much loading and yields the same results as a lot of rowing variations that may cause pain.
Unilateral – We all tend to get stuck in our comfort zone from time to time. For most people in the gym, that comfort zone is bilateral exercises in one plane of motion. At least with this variation, you allow yourself a little bit of rotation, a single arm prime mover and the opportunity to rid yourself of imbalances.
3. Suspended Plank
If you're using TRX or Jungle Gym, you just need a single handle. This can be performed on rings as well, which is how I demonstrated it above. I tend to like that option the best. You want to set up with your head under the anchor point, chest facing toward the ground. It's a good idea to start off on your knees and progress to the full version. Full disclosure: I would coach myself to create a more neutral neck in the demo video. My chin is tucked, but maybe a bit too much.
Breathe Into Your Back – You need to breathe into your diaphragm and try to fill your lower back up with air. In through your nose, out through your mouth in a relaxed pace. Shortness of breath makes this harder than it already is, and that's not necessarily a good thing. You want to be able to make this Plank last at least 15 seconds. Breathing like you're hyperventilating, you'll be lucky to make it to 5.
Use Your Triceps – You'll notice that the only point of contact with the ground is your feet, which is also the furthest point of your body from the handle. In other words, your feet can't save you. You're suspended from the handle with only your triceps supporting you, so make sure to hang on and use those triceps.
Fail to a Knee – When you absolutely can't hold on any more, drop to your knees first. You want to protect your lower back, and letting your knees fall to the floor allows you to let yourself down safely.
Core – Captain Obvious here reporting for duty. These will smoke your core, but not like that "feel the burn" kind of stuff, where you just repeatedly grind your psoas to a pulp and think it's your lower abs. This is true core strength and stability. This will help you build a resilient core with "show" and "go."
See anything new? Hopefully so! Try working them into your programming and let us know what you think.
- Bulletproof Your Core With 3 Advanced TRX Exercises
- The Back-Building Benefits of the TRX Power Pull
- Drew Brees' Crazy TRX Single-Arm Pendulum Leg Swings
- How and Why You Should Do TRX Spiderman Push-Ups
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