Have you heard of TRX training? TRX stands for Total body Resistance eXercise. It allows you to use your body weight to perform strength training exercises with a strap suspension system. You may have seen the hanging straps at a gym, but you can also buy them for home use. TRX is great for upper body, lower body, and core strengthening. I enjoy incorporating it into my strength training routine for variation and a challenge. Almost every exercise done with the TRX can be modified to make easier or harder depending on your level of ability.
We have a TRX model that hooks over a door, and then you close the door to secure it tightly before use. You can also purchase an anchor that allows you to attach it to a ceiling beam. I find the door attachment to be great for home, but we have the ceiling suspension at work in our physical therapy clinic and it allows for a little more flexibility in the exercises you perform.
The TRX forces you to use each side (right and left) equally because otherwise the straps shift to one side. The TRX also makes you use your core because the straps are not a fixed entity. You must keep your abdominals engaged in order to maintain your body alignment.
Here are a few of my favorite TRX exercises.
Rows: Start in the position shown above. Then, pull yourself upwards by bending you elbows. To make the exercise easier, move your feet further away from the door so you are more perpendicular to the ground. To make the exercise harder, move your feet closer to the door so your body is more parallel to the ground. This exercise is great for both the core and upper-mid back. You can perform rows with your elbows in by your sides OR with your elbows out at a 90 degree angle.
Back Flys: Start in the same position as the exercise above, then pull yourself upwards with your arms remaining straight as they come out to the side. This exercise is a bit more challenging than the rows. You can also perform what is called an "alligator" by bringing one arm up higher than the other creating a diagonal.
Push-ups: Start facing away from the TRX attachment site in a push-up position. Perform a push-up and move your feet to adjust the difficulty (similar to the rows, making your body more parallel to the ground makes it harder).
Hamstring curls: Laying down on your back, place each heel into a TRX strap. Perform a hamstring curl similar to how you would on a physioball. You can vary this exercise by just doing one leg at a time or by doing bridges (keep your knees bent and just lift your hips up and down).
Planks: On your hands and knees, place each foot in a strap and then push up into a plank position (you can go on your elbows or hands depending on how long the straps are). From this position, you can just hold the plank or you can mix it up. I like to open and close my legs to work the hips (shown below). You can also perform push-ups in this position. If you're really stable, you can do shoulder taps (tap each shoulder with the opposite hand)!
Squats: In a standing position facing the door or TRX attachment site, perform squats using your upper body to take some of the load off your legs. This is a great way to progress to single leg squats as well.
Sometimes an exercise can cause your feet to slide underneath you. In this case, simply use sneakers or put a no slip mat under your feet to stay in place. Adjusting the length of the straps may also help with different heights and body sizes.
If you haven't used a TRX before, I highly encourage you to jump at any opportunity to do so. Many gyms offer TRX classes too.