Intensify your workouts with these versatile bands.
If you’ve ever taken a group HIIT class or worked out in the weight room of a gym, then you’re probably using a TRX suspension trainer, which are essentially two adjustable bands with foam-padded handles that you can lock into place to do a variety of bodyweight exercises. People who like to do their workouts at home can order a TRX suspension trainer and install it in their home gym, garage, or an outdoor area with plenty of space. Every TRX trainer comes with a suspension anchor, door anchor and a free one-year subscription to the TRX app, which include workouts and tips on how to use the tool effectively.
The benefits of working out with TRX bands
What’s great about using TRX bands is that they can intensify bodyweight workouts without putting as much pressure on your joints as weights. Plus, they help you think about engaging different muscle groups in the body by manipulating your form and adjusting the amount of resistance in the straps.
“TRX straps are a great way to strength train and be gentle on the joints. You’re using bodyweight in a way that you can easily manipulate range of motion, and therefore, the amount of weight applied to the exercise,” says Melody Scharff, a NASM-certified personal trainer and instructor at the Fhitting Room, a high-intensity training studio in New York City.
Because the straps are long and durable, you can shorten or lengthen them to make certain moves more challenging. The padded handles aren’t just for holding either. Looping your feet around them to do planks and mountain climbers will challenge your core stability and force you to engage your glutes and tuck your hips. From jump squats to back rows, there’s a plethora of exercises you can do with a TRX trainer. Don’t know where to start? Check out this beginner TRX workout designed by Scharff.
Reps: 8 to 12 reps for two to three rounds
Equipment: TRX suspension trainer
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Sure, you’ve done planks before, but have you tried it on with TRX bands? Using a TRX trainer will force you to think of this isometric hold as a full-body exercise, engaging your shoulders and glutes as much as your core. (It’s easy to allow your hips to sag in a forearm plank.) The TRX trainer is also a good test of how much you can keep your body in a straight line on an unstable surface.
How to do a plank: Adjust the TRX straps so the handles are hanging about six inches above the ground. Loop the handles of the TRX bands midfoot and place your forearms parallel to each other on the ground with your shoulders directly above your elbows. Knees on the ground.
With your feet together, press your heels back to get into a plank, lifting your knees off the ground and forming a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds and then bring your knees back down to the starting position. As you get stronger, take things up a notch with a high plank.
esting your core stability and endurance, mountain climbers on TRX bands will get your heart rate up fast while challenging your abs to stay tight. Your upper body will get a workout, too, as you fight to keep your shoulders over your hands.
How to do mountain climbers: Loop the handles of the TRX bands midfoot and get into a plank position with your shoulders stacked above your hands, and your core and glutes tight. This prevents your torso from sinking and your hips from dipping. Bring your left knee in toward your left elbow while keeping your right leg extended. Then, switch and bring your right knee to your right elbow. Continue alternating legs for 30 to 45 seconds.
To get the most of this exercise, you want to think about pulling your knees in toward your elbows without allowing your torso or hips to sink. As you progress and get stronger, you can take this exercise to the next level by tucking your knees in diagonally to target your oblique muscles.
Loop the handles of the TRX bands midfoot and get into a plank position with your shoulders stacked above your hands, and your core and glutes tight. Moving with control, pull your knees up to your elbows and then bring them back to the starting position. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.
Alternating Oblique Knee Tucks
If getting rid of annoying love handles is your goal, this move is perfect for you. Because you’re in a plank, you’ll lengthen the entire front side of your abs, which is what ultimately gives you those long lines on your sides.
How to do alternating oblique knee tucks: Loop the handles of the TRX bands midfoot and get into a plank position with your shoulders stacked above your hands, and your glutes and core tight. Moving with control, pull your knees in toward your right elbow and then bring them back to the starting position. Pull your knees in toward your left elbow. Bring them back out and continue alternating sides for eight to 12 reps. Remember to keep your shoulders square throughout the entire exercise.
This move will sculpt every inch of your core as you raise your hips until your head is underneath your back and shoulders. Use your breath and move with control as you move into a pike position.
How to do plank pikes: Loop the handles of the TRX bands midfoot and get into a plank position with your shoulders stacked above your hands. Engaging your glutes and core and keeping your shoulders square, raise your hips as you pull your feet in to a plank pike. Then, bring your feet back to plank and continue for eight to 12 reps.
Just a few reps of this exercise will have your booty burning. The challenge here is to keep your butt and low back lifted off the ground the entire time.
How to do hamstring curls: Lie face-up on the ground with your heels cradled in the handles and arms at your sides, palms facing down. Lift your butt and low back a few inches off the ground. and keep your feet together. Tightening your hamstrings, bring the heels of your feet toward your butt. Your hips will naturally lift a littler higher. Bring your feet back to the starting position while keeping your hips and low back lifted. Continue for 30 to 45 seconds.
our glutes will get even more TLC with this TRX move by keeping your butt and low back lifted the entire time. Remember to avoid pressing your hips too high to avoid overarching your low back.
How to do glute bridges: Lie face-up on the ground with your heels cradled in the handles and arms at your sides, palms facing down. Keep your feet together and bend your knees, lifting your butt and low back a few inches off the ground. Tightening your glutes and pelvic muscles and pushing your heels into the handles, press your hips up toward the ceiling. Then, lower them back down to the starting position, never letting your butt touch the ground. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.
Wide Grip Row
Scharff says to keep your body plank-like as much as possible and to engage your back and shoulders throughout the entire movement so that your shoulders stay in line with or behind your ears. “Shoulders should never come forward, allowing the chest to cave in. You can stand more upright to make the exercise lighter, or walk yourself more parallel to the ground to make things tougher,” Scharff says.
How to do wide grip rows: Shorten the TRX straps so that they’re mid-length. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart in front of the TRX trainer and hold the handles at chest height with your palms facing down, arms fully extended. Lean back into a standing plank with a straight back. Pulling the bands apart and squeezing your shoulder blades together, bring your chest up toward your hands until your elbows are pointing to the sides with your shoulders behind your ears. Continue for eight to 12 reps.
The ultimate anti-rotation ab exercise, the Palloff press looks deceptively easy, but it involves truly engaging those deep ab muscles to keep your body square. “You want to keep your hands directly in front of your sternum with your shoulders and hips square to the wall ahead of you. Again, keep your body as plank-like as possible,” Scharff says.
How to do Paloff presses: Stand perpendicular to the TRX anchor, leaning away from it in a diagonal, and holding the handles with both hands at your chest. Take a step to the side so there’s tension in the band and stagger your stance so that your one leg is behind you and other is in front. Keep your shoulders down and back. Without rotating your torso and hips, press the handles forward with your arms fully extended. Your body should be in a side plank. Bring your hands back to your chest in the starting position. Complete eight to 12 reps before switching sides.
The archer row is a unique back exercise that challenges your core, chest, and shoulders as much as your back. For this particular variation of the exercise, you want to think about maintaining a standing plank and side plank position.
How to do archer rows: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart facing the TRX trainer and hold the handles with your left hand. Then, bring your right arm out behind your body, opening up the chest and leaning your body back in a side plank, fully extending your left arm. Then, row yourself up with your left arm, bringing your right arm back to the starting position. Alternate arms or repeat for eight to 12 reps before switching arms.
If you hate lifting weights, this version of the bicep curl will help you engage the same arm muscles without straining your joints. While your biceps are the primary mover in this exercise, the standing plank position will help you engage all major muscle groups.
How to do a bicep curl: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart facing the TRX trainer and hold the handles with your palms facing up at shoulder height, arms fully extended. Lean back into a standing plank with a straight back. Squeezing your biceps and bracing your core, curl the handles up toward your shoulders and then bring them back to the starting position. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.
This exercise specifically engages your triceps and shoulders by forcing you to actively use those muscles during the press motion. Like the previous exercises, be sure to maintain a standing plank position with your body in a straight line.
How to do triceps presses: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart behind the TRX straps with your arms extended, holding onto the handles with your palms facing away from you. Engaging your triceps, lean forward in a standing plank, bending at the elbows, until the handles are by your forehead. Then straighten your arms to the starting position. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.
Using TRX straps with plyometric exercises, like jump squats and lunges, helps you improve your range of motion, aka getting lower and jumping higher, while reducing the impact on your joints.
How to do jump squats: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart facing the TRX trainer and hold the handles, rotating the palms inward so they face each other. Sit back into your heels and lower your butt back and down. Firing up your glutes and quads, push through your heels to jump up. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.
This exercise will activate those fast-twitch muscle fibers in your glutes and quads, which are responsible for explosive plyometric movements in your lower body.
How to do jump lunges: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart facing the TRX trainer and hold the handles, rotating the palms inward so they face each other. Step your right foot back and lower your body into a lunge, forming 90-degree angles with your front and back legs. Firing up your glutes and quads, push through your front and back feet to switch up your legs, landing with your right foot in front and your left foot behind you. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.