Many people use and/or own a TRX Suspension Trainer. They’re relatively inexpensive, light-weight, portable and provide endless means of achieving a strength and/or cardiovascular workout. The TRX utilizes gravity and one’s own body weight to challenge every muscle, but especially your core. Endurance and balance are also challenged and most movements can be modified to be made easier and/or harder depending on your fitness level. Often times just a simple change in body position or grip can alter the intensity making this tool appropriate for all levels of fitness.
The TRX is an awesome tool for triathletes. Any strength training exercise done with free weights and/or a machine can be replicated with the TRX. The constant reliance on your core to hold you in position during most of the movements is of extreme benefit with regards to cycling. The core not only keeps the body upright, but also the body stable while in the saddle. Hips, thighs and knees require a strong mid-section to work from, and developing a strong core helps to minimize any discomfort and/or injury to the lower back.
Here are three exercises that could potentially improve one’s swimming, cycling and running abilities. They are intended to target the major muscles being utilized in each discipline. Just like regular forms of strength training, you want to perform sets and reps on the TRX designed to achieve muscle fatigue. All of these movements are completely modifiable depending on your muscle strength and endurance. Since supporting one’s own body weight is no easy task, make sure form is of utmost importance and don’t forget to dial in your breathing.
Swimming: TRX Lat Pull-down with Squat
The lat pull-down is a great all-around exercise that targets the latissimus dorsi and has a beneficial effect on the ‘pulling’ phase of the four competitive swim strokes. The latissimus dorsi is responsible for a strong stroke and forceful rotation propelling your stroke forward. A strong lat will not only increase swim speed and power, it will also enable you to improve your swimming endurance.
While holding onto the TRX, draw feet a little bit wider than shoulder-width apart with toes and knees turned out. Drop into a deep squat while keeping the back straight and straightening out your arms. As you draw your body upwards, driving through the heels, draw your elbows down to the base of your ribcage engaging your lats and biceps. Perform 10-15 reps for 2-3 sets.
Cycling: TRX Assisted Pistol Squat
The pistol or ‘single leg squat’ is a very challenging move that many people tend to give up on almost immediately. Just remember, you are in control of your range of motion, so start small until you feel stronger. This movement is great for cycling because it is very similar to that used for standing pedaling and getting strong with the single leg/ pistol squat is one of the fastest ways to improve your pedaling power.
While holding onto the TRX, draw one leg straight out in front of you. Drop into a single leg squat keeping your knee and toe tracing forward and straight. Go as deep as you can, making sure you will be able to push through that heel on the way up. Don’t ‘hang’ on the TRX. Thing of it as an ‘assist’ and/or ‘support’. It should never be used as a ‘crutch’. Switch legs once achieving total fatigue. I would recommend 8-12 reps (with each leg) for 2-3 sets as a great start/introduction to the movement.
Running: TRX Hamstring Curls
The hamstrings are quite important for running. They need to be strong and flexible. When people log a lot of miles on the road, quadriceps tend to become powerful and dominant. As a result, many people’s hamstrings become really tight and run the risk of injury (i.e. tears, strains and ‘pulls’). Therefore, it really is best to spend some time and energy strengthening this muscle with an eccentric exercise.
While seated on the ground, place both heels into the TRX straps. Lie on your back with your legs straightened while suspended in the air. Keeping your upper body and head relaxed on the ground, draw your hips upward while tightening your glutes and hamstrings and engaging your hip flexors. Draw both knees into your chest while keeping your hips and tush elevated. Repeat motion until fatigue. It’s best to start with 10-20 reps for about 2-3 sets.