Hello lifters! I’m so excited to be Adamant Barbell’s latest authorial addition to the blog. As a quick blurb, I train primarily in the aesthetics realm. For the sake of variation, I will occasionally power-lift. My posts will be unique in that they will come from a female lifter perspective. Check out my bio for more on me and links to my social media accounts. Now, let’s shift gears into TRX.
For my first post, I dug deep on the TRX suspension system and how it operates. You know, the cross-fit area in the gym where those long black and yellow straps with handles are. You may not venture over there too often. If you aren’t entirely familiar of how this system works, here’s my breakdown.
Pictured above, this is one of the TRX options in my gym. Usually, you’ll see a handful of these grouped together in a line. They’re relatively easy to install and can be thrown up just about anywhere you can find a secure anchor. This one is fixed onto a steel bar. I’ve seen others attached on cable machines and pull-up bars. The choice is essentially yours as to where you’d like it to live.
Now, TRX may look unimpressive as it solemnly hangs, but don’t let its simplicity fool you! The military and pro-athletes use these systems for a reason and a good one. Spoiler: I almost busted my ass in the gym.
For this series of photos, I took pictures moving from the top of the system to the handles. This carabiner simultaneously hooks into the yellow nylon ropes at the top and holds the roped handles. TRX claims that their carabiner can support up to 1,300 lbs. At a steady 125, I can’t attest to that. Regardless, when using it the durability of the carabiner is definitely noticeable. I’ve seen big cross-fit guys using these, so don’t be afraid of it breaking while in use! It’ll hold you.
These D-ring make the nylon ropes easy to adjust according to which exercise you’re performing. For example, inverted rows call for shorter ropes. Planks and floor work, however, need the ropes to be longer. Because of the thickness of the nylon, the ropes quickly move through these adjusters. There is no awkward pushing or pulling to get them to do what you want.
Moving down the ropes, these nylon handles have padded foam grips (unless you’re using the TRX Home Gym which is pictured here). This is a huge plus for me because my grip strength is not the greatest. You can also slip your feet into the bottom portion of these to do floor movements like planks or push-ups. They’re padded (again, all systems aside from the Home Gym) , so you won’t be rubbing your skin raw on nylon. If you wanted to, you could also just use the nylon portion for regular upper body work.
This is the other TRX System in my gym, which has a bit of a different set-up. Because its anchored into the wall, you don’t have quite as much room as with the previously mentioned TRX. I prefer the other–mostly because of the ability to move 360º. If you’re going to be pretty stationary, like with inverted rows, this one should work fine. There is an interesting move for these where a row fluidly drops down to a push-up at the top of the movement. Sound hard? It is! I’m still working on those. Which brings me to one of the best skills TRX helps you develop: balance.
Because this is a “you against you” system, you can’t come at TRX thinking the balance thing isn’t a big deal. As you pull or push with the straps, balance is the primary element necessary to successfully carry out the proper movements. Like pull-ups and dips, these require a lot of practice. The weird shakiness in doing TRX push-ups will fade away as you grow accustomed to balancing your body weight with the handles. Plus, their mantra of “core all the time” will have you feeling it in your abs which is always a plus. Core integration will further contribute to your ability to stabilize.
“So, why TRX and not the Elite FTS Blast Straps?”
There are a few important differences here. One being the handles. With TRX, you get the combined nylon and foam handles. With the Blast Straps, you get the steels handles akin to those on cable machines. If that’s your thing, by all means go for it. However, from a comfort standpoint, they aren’t the best option. If you’re like me, you’ll take the softer handles any day. Why? You value comfort in your lifts. Doing floor work with the Blast Straps is possible, but you’d be hard pressed to leave without scrapes.
The TRX System is far more substantial, too. Just in an eyeball comparison, the thick nylon of TRX appears to be much more solid than that of the Blast Straps. I also place trust in TRX’s carabiner, whereas the attachment for the Blast Straps seems questionable in regards to how much weight it can sustain. The one obvious upside to the Blast Straps is the price. For $90, they’re yours. Check them out here.
As I close this post, I wanted to quickly talk about the different options that you can pick with TRX. The TRX Home Gym is the one you’ll likely purchase if you’re thinking of anchoring it on the go. This is also the most cost effective trainer, coming in at around $160. The TRX Pro 4 is the company’s flagship product; most gyms have these if they offer any TRX product. This one is built for heavier and more frequent use, with three anchoring options. Plus, the footholds are padded. The Duo Trainer is for the cross-fit folks; this system ditches the padded foam and instead uses straight wooden handles for heightened ergonomics. Lastly, the TRX Tactical Gym seems to be no different than the Pro 4 aside from a more rugged make and a mule brown colorway. If camouflage is your thing (or the scheme of your home gym), the Tactical is definitely for you.
Thanks to O2 Fitness Cary for allowing me to photograph.