Can lightweight set of nylon straps be all you need to get stronger and leaner? Most definitely. That’s the promise (and premise) behind TRX Suspension training. These portable, seat-belt like nylon straps are now found in most major gym, and they are the hot resistance tool being used to improve strength and stability.
They work like this: Attach the TRX hooks to a sturdy elevated fixture (a door jam or pull-up bar) so that the straps dangle down. Depending on the exercise, you will hang on with your hands or feet. Think of them as a fun workout that uses your own body weight in a series of moves requiring strength, balance, and overall athleticism. For example, doing the running man exercise from a suspended plank position (as opposed to on the floor) will activate more muscles and spike calories burned.
To get in the swing of things, try these three TRX moves.
Bicep curl Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the handles with your palms up and your arms straight in front of you. Lean your body back at a slight angle. (Steep, if you’re comfortable.) Let the straps support your weight. Curl the straps toward your body, past your ears. Return to the start position.
Squat row Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the handles with your palms facing in and your arms straight in front of you. Lean your body back at a slight angle. Bend both knees into a full squat position. Pull yourself back to a standing position, keeping your elbows close to the rib cage. Return to the start position.
Suspended abdominal crunch Lie facedown with your feet in the TRX handles—they’ll be suspended. Push yourself into a plank position, then pull your knees toward your chest as far as you can. Extend your legs back to the start position.
TRX Suspension Trainer System ($199.95, trxtraining.com) comes with an instructional DVD and a workout guide or you can take a class at your local gym—most have a system set up.