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TRX kicks your butt, helps you recover

Feb. 10, 2013 - 10:29AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 10, 2013 - 10:29AM  |  
Military Muscle: TRX
Military Muscle: TRX: TRX Force Rep and retired Army Major Tim Hardy demonstrates Bob Thomas' Military Muscle workout for TRX.
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(Mike Morones/Military Times)

The trainers at our gym in Pensacola, Fla., are unapologetic disciples of the TRX suspension training apparatus. Some, including clients, call themselves "TRXies" (pronounced "trexies"). We use it in almost every program for our clients, young or old. In short, it allows you to:

Train anywhere you can anchor the strap that will support your weight, for example a cross bar, tree limb, door jamb or tank barrel.

Adjust intensity to suit your fitness level, simply by changing your body angle, sometimes in conjunction with changing the length of the strap or your base of support.

Train in a multijoint even multiplane integrated environment, just like real life. (Did someone say "functional fitness"?)

And finally and in my opinion, this is the Holy Grail engage and strengthen the core at all levels all the time. Remember, the core is more than just the abs.

In other words, all of the things that assist in injury prevention (increase mission readiness), injury rehab (get back in the fight faster) and as Ken Taylor of the TRX company says, "It works for senior leaders with senior bodies."

For each exercise, you need to set the TRX to a particular length short, medium or long. Looking at the TRX, you'll see the handles, then farther up the strap are the cam buckles, and above those and below the loop are the adjustment tabs.

Short: Adjustment tabs are at the top of the strap.

Medium: Adjustment tabs are halfway up the main strap.

Long: Straps are fully extended so the foot cradles are 8 to 12 inches off the floor.

Long torso stretch

Length: Medium

Grab the handles of the TRX palms down, feet parallel to the handles' crossbars.

Cross your inside foot over your outside foot, and twist your torso 90 degrees.

Keeping your back in line with your hips, stretch your body into a V shape, looking down at your feet.

Hold for two-count, then return to the start and repeat for three reps.

Switch to the other side and repeat.


Length: Medium

Grab the handles at waist level, palms facing in.

Walk back until the strap is taut, forearms and arms forming 90-degree angles.

Keeping slight tension on the TRX and arms bent at 90 degrees, execute a squat to where your knees form 90-degree angles.

Repeat for 45 seconds.

Progression: Squat jump

Grab the TRX handles at chest level, palms facing in.

Step back until the TRX strap is taut at about a 45-degree angle.

Keeping your back neutral and arms extended with a slight bend, perform a squat to where your quads are at 90 degrees.

From the squat position, explode straight upward, keeping tension on the straps throughout.

Upon landing, return to the start position.

Repeat for 45 seconds.

As you get stronger, proceed directly into the squat when you land, performing a single, continuous-but-controlled motion.

Chest press

Length: Long (for beginners, medium is OK)

Grab the TRX handles palms-down with arms fully extended, straps by your shoulders, arms and torso forming 45-degree angles. You'll be on your toes.

Imagine you're doing a pushup. Keeping your core tight, lower your body until your upper arms and forearms form 90-degree angles. Remember to keep your elbows up.

Press back up to the start point.

Repeat for 45 seconds.

Progression: One-leg chest press

Perform the chest press with one foot eight to 10 inches off the floor.

Biceps curl

Length: Medium

Grab the handles, palms facing in, arms fully extended, angle of your arms running diagonally through the plane of the chest. Your body should be about 45 degrees in relation to the straps.

Keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor, perform a biceps curl, turning your palms up as you execute the curl. Your hands should end up at about eye level, your body at about 10 degrees short of vertical.

Return to the start position and repeat for 45 seconds.


Length: Long (adjust so the foot loops reach your leg at mid-calf)

Lie face down and hook your feet through the TRX foot loops. The TRX should hang almost vertical or no more than a few degrees forward of vertical.

Rest on your forearms, elbows under your shoulders.

Set your core and raise your entire body in one movement, forming a straight line from shoulders through hips and heels. Aim to execute this as a single move try not to lead with your shoulders or hips.

Hold for 10 seconds.

Return to the floor, reset your core and repeat, performing three reps.

Side plank, single leg

Length: Long (adjust so the foot loops reach your leg at mid-calf)

Configure the TRX so that it uses a single handle (check the instructions or look it up).

Lie on either side, fully extended.

With your bottom foot in the loop, rest on your bottom hand, hand under the shoulder. Your top foot will be slightly forward. Keep both shoulders in line so that there is no forward lean to your trunk this is important.

Tighten your ab and oblique muscles. Pushing off with your bottom arm, raise your body in one movement until both arms are fully extended, keeping your body straight. Hold for 10 seconds.

Return to the floor before repeating.

Do three reps on each side.

Side plank progression: Single leg, single arm "bird dog"

Length: Long

Start with the TRX configured to use a single handle.

Put one foot in the loop, the other with toes touching the floor.

Get into pushup position.

Raise the arm that is on the same side as the foot in the loop and hold it out in front of you for a five-count.

Make it tougher by raising your free foot from the floor as you raise your arm.

Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. Email him at

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