The gym is filled with tons of complex machines, all designed to tighten and tone various areas of your body. With so many flashy options to choose from, chances are, you’ve been overlooking one ultra-versatile piece of equipment: the TRX suspension trainer. But his seemingly simple item is actually a super effective workout tool. It was designed to add extra challenge to many of your usual go-to exercises, like squats and mountain climbers, to help your body build strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability.
The best part: It’s totally versatile. While you can find TRX trainers at any gym, you can also use them to get toned just about anywhere—whether that’s in your home, the beach, or the park—by simply attaching your trainer to a sturdy object overhead (like a tree, for example). Not to mention, it’s compact enough to squeeze into your suitcase, making it perfect for working out while traveling.
If you’re curious to try out TRX and mix up your usual routine, try giving my 6-move workout a go.
Face the anchor point and grab the cushioned handles. Take a couple steps back so there’s plenty of tension on the suspension trainer. Balancing on your left foot, extend your right leg. Begin to lower into a squat, keeping your right leg extended and your left heel on the ground. Once you’ve hit a 90-degree angle—or as low as you can go with proper form—drive your left heel through the ground returning to a standing position. Do three sets of eight reps.
Tam’s Tip: Don’t sacrifice form for depth. Be sure to keep your arms straights at all stages in the squat to prevent using your upper body instead of your legs and glutes.
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Bring the handles together and place your right foot into the cradle. Walk out a few steps while balancing on your left leg. Begin to lower down into a lunge, hold for one second, and then return to standing. Do four sets of 10 reps.
Tam’s Tip: Make sure that you aren’t hinging at your hips, and really using your legs and glutes to get into the lunge. Avoid pushing off your front leg when returning to a standing position.
Adjust the handles so that they are at their highest setting. Grab the handles, making sure that your hands, shoulders and hips are aligned. Keep your feet flat on the ground and pull your body up as high as you can, and then lower down to the starting position. To make it harder, straighten your legs, with your heels on the ground and pull yourself up, keeping your shoulders down and back. If you want more of a challenge, pull your entire body off the ground in one fluid movement (as shown above), and then lower back down to the starting position. Start with three sets of 10 reps for the beginner/intermediate variations. Advanced: three sets of four reps.
Tam’s Tip: Be sure that your hands, shoulders and hips are aligned after every rep.
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Bring the handles together and grab them with your right hand. Lean your body backward, with your feet closer to the anchor point in front of you. Then, while engaging your core and lat, pull your body up in one fluid movement. Straighten your right arm, lowering down to the start position. Do three sets of 12 reps.
Tam’s Tip: To make this exercise more challenging, walk your feet closer to the anchor point, increasing the amount of body weight you are pulling. You can also try standing with a narrow stance to make this exercise more unstable.
Place your feet into the foot cradles with your toes facing down. Walk your hands out to a plank position. Drive your right knee forward, followed by the left. Repeat.
Tam’s Tip: Try to avoid sawing (each strap changing levels) by maintaining even pressure on the foot cradles.
Place your feet into the foot cradles, toes facing down. Walk your hands out into a plank position. From here begin to raise your hips up, engaging your core, creating a upside down ‘v’. Lower your body back down for one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Tam’s Tip: Imagine there is a string attached to your tailbone pulling you up and down. Avoid a dip in your lower back by pulling your belly button in and engaging your core.