TRX (standing for Total-body Resistance Exercise, or simply Total Resistance Exercise) is a unique method of training that uses the eponymous TRX Suspension Trainer—essentially a set of straps, bands, and grips.
This has all been invented by former U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick, and given the Seals’ reputation, the man knows his stuff.
The idea behind the approach is that by putting your body into a position of lower leverage and shakier balance, you are forced to compensate with your torso, leading to not only more resistance, but also forcing you to develop your core and back along with whichever body part you are working at the time. This is of course a win-win, and combined with the ease of assembling, disassembling, and transporting the TRX Suspension Trainer, makes the system a rather alluring one.
Take it where you want it, fasten the straps to something that can hold your weight (a tree, a weight machine, a door frame, use your imagination!), and you’re pretty much ready to go! It may take some getting used to, especially when it comes to not tipping over to one side, but after getting the hang of it, you may never want to switch to another method again.
Although the TRX system may be applied to practically any body part, today we will be using it to work on our legs. And of course, following in the philosophy of the approach, our core and backs as well.
TRX Leg Exercises: Our Handpicked Selection
All of these are variants of already existing exercises, and though they may feel somewhat different, you will find them just as good (or better). And as always, don’t forget to warm up before starting!
A squat is a staple of leg and glute workouts, and the addition of the TRX Suspension Trainer makes it even more of an all-rounder. Simply attach the straps to an elevated surface, then grab them at a 45-degree angle. Keep your feet at about shoulder width, palms close (or even together), and start squatting. Having to pull yourself down instead of push yourself up will probably feel weird at first, but don’t worry. It’ll really do a number on your lower body.
Exercise Two: TRX One-legged Squats
More similar to the pistol squat than the regular one-legged squat, this one will drastically improve your running and jumping ability. You should of course do both legs, one at a time, for an equal number of sets and reps. An excellent exercise for your glutes, thighs, and even motion range and balance.
Exercise Three: TRX Squat Jumps
Squat jumps are there to increase your metabolism as well as tone your legs, and these are no different. Though the bands will assist you with the jumping part, they will make the wind-up significantly more difficult. When you wish to feel the burn, you can’t go wrong with squat jumps of any sort.
Exercise Four: TRX Single Leg Jump Squat
A more advanced variant of the previous one, just don’t forget to do both legs!
Exercise Five: TRX Mountain Climbers
What’s better than your regular, already brutal mountain climbers? Why, a variant that forces you to mind your balance while you work your legs to their limit! As you’d do with your plain old mountain climbers, get into the push-up position. Attach the TRX cradles to your feet, and get going! You should aim for proper form with this, as it will be quite easy for your legs to flop around freely, and we don’t want that. Do it correctly, and you’ll thank yourself later. Or hate yourself when the burn hits. Both are good.
Exercise Six: TRX Hamstring Curls
After laying yourself on your back, attach the straps to your ankles, lift your hips and knees and balance yourself with your arms. Now your goal is to, by only using your hamstrings, bring your knees up to your chest without letting your hips change position. Difficult yes, but one of the better hamstring exercises out there.
Exercise Seven: TRX Lunges
Lunges are an essential exercise, so the existence of a TRX version should be a given. Nothing fancy here. Grab the bands, take the stance, and get going, one at a time.
Exercise Eight: TRX Curtsy Lunge
A more difficult variant of the TRX lunge where you essentially cross your legs while stepping back. Feel free to graduate to it once the regular ones become too easy.
Exercise Nine: TRX Lateral Lunge
Side lunges are great for your hips, glutes, and quads. Feel free to combine them with the regular variant for a brutal workout. Or better yet (and if you’re feeling up to it), there is also the…
Exercise Ten: TRX Curtsy Lunge to Lateral Lunge
This one is a real killer. As the name says, perform the curtsy lunge, then immediately follow it up with a lateral lunge. You will hate yourself and this move, but think of the gains!
Tying It All Together
These ten exercises, when utilized correctly, will get you far on your leg day. “But how do I put them to use?” I can hear you ask. No worries. There is a pattern every good workout routine.
So what you want on your leg day is one squat variant (meaning either the TRX squat or the TRX one-legged squat), two lunge variants (one regular and one lateral, or just do the curtsy lunge to lateral lunge instead), something for the cardio and shred (TRX jump squats—either regular or one legged, or mountain climbers), and if you’re up to it, also throw in the TRX hamstring curl.
As for the number of reps, aim for something between 6 and 12. The slower you go, the harder (and thus more beneficial if you can pull it off) the exercise will be, so you can mix and match these modifiers to find the right intensity for you. If you started with an easier version (such as the squat), and can pull off 12 slow reps, it might be time to move on to the one-legged ones.
So an example training session would look something like this:
Warm-up (again, consider it mandatory)
3-5 sets of TRX squats
3-5 sets of TRX lunges
3-5 sets of TRX lateral lunges
3 sets of TRX hamstring curls
3-5 sets of TRX jump squats
Now please keep in mind that this is a base, so feel free to swap out moves and experiment. As long as you’re persistent, you will keep advancing.