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TRX training is becoming a staple at most gyms now, with some even providing group classes.
Using a TRX suspension trainer is an efficient way to achieve your fitness goals (at home or at the gym) and is designed with everyone in mind, from beginners to advanced trainers alike.
But can TRX replace weight training? No, not completely. There are many aspects of weight training that cannot be replaced by suspension training but can complement an existing strengthening routine.
We’ll review the pros and cons of TRX training to determine if suspension training deserves a spot in your workout routine.
Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes and is not medical advice. Read the full disclaimer.
What is a TRX workout?
TRX stands for total body resistance exercise.
TRX training is a type of suspension training system that uses your body weight as resistance. Exercises are performed with straps fixed to an anchor.
For every exercise, you have complete control over the level of difficulty. The more your body is angled, the more difficult the exercise is.
The original apparatus was invented by former US NAVY SEAL Randy Hetrick as a way to access a full-body workout with limited equipment in a small space.
Benefits of TRX suspension training
- Core stability
- Multifunction equipment, provides a full body workout
- Accomodates many fitness levels
- Easy to adjust angle for difficulty level
- Travel & small space friendly
Suspension training allows for a combination of strength, balance, and core strength with the ability to vary the difficulty based on the angle of your body.
Lower body or combo strength moves can also get your heart rate up quite a bit, adding an element of cardiovascular benefit.
Suspension trainers can assist with promoting good form for squats by holding on to counterbalance weight and enabling you to get deeper into your range of motion.
I have a difficult time with push-ups and can never seem to get deep enough into the range of motion to make it worth my time. But for me, TRX push-ups get to the point quickly and I can actually feel the right muscles working, instead of just feeling discomfort in my joints.
TRX is inexpensive for home to access a full-body workout and you can easily take it on the go and use the door anchor for a workout option while traveling.
Suspension trainer cons
- Some limitations compared to traditional strength training equipment
- Instability provides a challenge but may be too advanced for some beginners
- Can be tough on the wrists
- Some movements are awkward
While suspension training can offer a full-body workout, most people are not familiar with how to do this and as a result, can get stuck doing the same 3-4 exercises over and over again.
Squats, lunges, push-ups, and rows are the popular ones.
Though you have control over the level of resistance, if you’re looking for heavy weight options, TRX can be limited compared to other strength training equipment.
Overall, it depends on your level and what your goals are.
Instability provides a unique challenge but may be too advanced for beginners with some exercises.
Since many exercises require holding on to straps, TRX can be tough on the wrists and may not be the best choice for people with carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, or arthritis.
While all major muscle groups can be worked via TRX, I find some movements, for example, exercises for the triceps, to be just a bit awkward. To me, it feels like the angle is never quite right and the straps are sometimes in the way.
I prefer dips, pull-downs, and kickbacks to work my triceps instead of TRX.
Related read: Exercise Modifications For Wrist Pain
Are TRX workouts good for beginners?
Though the apparatus may sound intimidating, most TRX exercises can be modified for beginners.
The easiest way to modify most exercises is to adjust the angle of your body to a more upright position. You never want to have slack on the straps, otherwise, you’re not getting any benefit.
Here’s a link to a beginner TRX workout (below) on YouTube so you can get an idea of what to expect.
Here’s another quick beginner video that demonstrates some common mistakes with TRX exercises.
Can you get fit with just TRX?
While TRX offers many benefits, the best way to build a healthy fitness plan is to include a well-rounded series of exercises from various sources.
TRX is a great option for home to access a full-body workout while taking up limited space.
TRX exercises can fill in a valuable piece of an overall fitness routine, but it’s good to cross-train to avoid injuries and avoid your body adapting to the same workouts.
It also depends on what your definition of “get fit” is.
Can TRX replace weight training?
For those seeking general strength improvements, this study showed similar gains in strength, power, movement, and jumping between suspension training and traditional resistance training.
Again, it depends on what your goals are.
If you’re serious about building muscle and like to work with barbells and other heavy-duty equipment, you might find you’re limited with just a TRX trainer.
That being said, it’s good to keep your body working in different ways. You may find that adding TRX exercises to your existing program gives you some supplemental benefits.
For higher-level core exercises, TRX offers some interesting options.
The foot cradles allow you to perform exercises such as suspended planks, mountain climbers, bridges, and hamstring curls.
The straps can be adjusted for height or exercise accommodations.
Where to buy TRX equipment
You can also buy the proper mounting hardware for your space.
Is TRX a good workout?
A great way to stay fit is to add multiple different types of exercises, including different types of resistance exercises into your workout.
TRX workouts offer a unique way to strengthen without traditional weights. It’s also a good option for a total body workout at home with limited space.
It depends on your personal goals, but TRX may be sufficient for resistance training for some people. Others might find it useful but also need to supplement with more traditional strength training exercises.
Have you tried suspension training? What’s your experience?
José Luis Maté-Muñoz, Antonio J. Antón Monroy, Pablo Jodra Jiménez, Manuel V. Garnacho-Castaño. (2014) Effects of Instability Versus Traditional Resistance Training on Strength, Power and Velocity in Untrained Men. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine(13), 460 – 468.