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A Beginner’s Guide To TRX Training

Like many runners I’m not the most comfortable person in a gym weights room, but over the past year or so I’ve come to recognise more and more the importance of getting in some cross training to improve my core and leg strength and – touch wood – build a body more capable of handling the rigours of running without succumbing to injury.

TRX is a great tool for runners
However, I’m still not someone drawn to heavy barbell moves, working instead with bodyweight exercises, kettlebells and dumbbells or, of late, a suspension trainer. These are a common sight in gyms nowadays, with the TRX training system the most popular. While I was a little daunted by it at first (no-one wants to use equipment incorrectly and look the fool in a gym) once an expert showed me the ropes, I’ve found that the suspension trainer is a great tool for runners.

As it involves the core in every exercise
For my money, the best aspect of TRX training for runners is that it involves the core in every exercise because your body is always working to keep you stable when you have one or more limbs suspended. That means standard bodyweight exercises like press-ups are given a whole extra dimension, and given how important core strength is for running, I always feel like I’m doing the right kind of cross training to support the sport when I use the TRX.

Standard bodyweight exercises like press-ups are given a whole extra dimension when using a TRX machine.

And you can maintain proper form
The instability involved in suspension training makes some moves, like the plank, harder, but it can also help make other exercises easier, especially when you’re working on one leg, which I try to do as much as possible as a runner. Dropping deep into one-legged squats is much easier when you’re holding the TRX ropes, and I find I can focus better on ensuring I maintain proper form as a result. Another type of training I find I like to do with the TRX is plyometric moves like the jump lunge. Holding the ropes during these exercises reduces the impact a little, always something I’m keen to do as a runner who’s already putting my legs through enough in terms of pounding the ground.

Even a short workout will be valuable to your running
It’s also simple to combine exercises using a suspension trainer, which means you can rattle through a quick workout that hits all the key muscle groups you need to. While I’m happier in the gym now than I have been in the past, it’s still not a place I want to spend hours in, so using the TRX to do combo moves like the press-up to pike means I can be done with my workout in 20-30 minutes while still being confident I’ve done some valuable work to support my running.

A TRX machine makes it easy to rattle through a quick workout that hits all the key muscle groups you need to.

A three round workout in 30 minutes
Here’s a quick circuit of TRX exercises which are of benefit to runners. You can run through three rounds of the below in 30 minutes, making it ideal for a lunch break. Do each exercise for one minute and take a 30-second break between them. Then rest for one minute at the end of the circuit.

1. TRX mountain climber
Start in a press-up position with your feet in the TRX straps. Alternate bringing each knee up to your chest, keeping the pace high throughout the minute.

2. TRX one-legged squat
Hold the TRX straps in your hands and stand on one leg with the other held straight in front of you. Lean back and lower into a deep squat, keeping the airborne leg straight. Then use the straps to help you drive back up to standing.

3. TRX press-up to pike
Get into a press-up position with your feet in the straps. Perform a press-up and when you push back up raise your hips towards the ceiling, bringing your feet towards your hands and lowering your head beneath your shoulders. Then return to the press-up position.

4. TRX jump lunge
Hold the TRX straps in your hands and move back away from them until there is tension in the ropes with the handles held at around the height of your stomach. Step back with one foot and drop into a lunge until both your knees are bent at a 90° angle, then drive back and leap into the air, swapping the position of your legs before landing softly and dropping into another lunge. Keep tension in the ropes throughout to reduce the impact of the exercise.

5. TRX lunge to knee raise
From the same starting position as the jump lunge take a step back with your right leg then drive back to standing and take the right knee straight through and up to above waist height. Then repeat with the left leg.

6. TRX hamstring curl to hip press
Lie back on the ground with the heels of your feet in the handles of the ropes. Use your hamstrings to draw your heels towards your hips, then thrust your hips up towards the ceiling so your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.