The fitness industry has gotten a lot more attention lately and this has forced many brands within the industry to get more creative with their workout plans. This could either be accredited to the direction of goals by the community, or a way to carve out a niche that is unique and effective enough to stay ahead of the game. Regardless of the reason, TRX is a relatively new addition to the fitness industry and has seen positive feedback within the community. When stacked against the old reliability of dumbbells, barbells, and bodyweight workouts, how does TRX fare against other gym equipment?
What Is TRX?
TRX is a body-weight, suspension-based exercise program that helps improve strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. It employs the use of a single strap hung from a ceiling. It is meant to be looped around either hands or feet. Unlike many exercises, this was introduced in the early 2000s by Randy Hetrick, a US Navy SEAL who retired and was adamant about continuing life of training outside of the military.
From a marketing standpoint, TRX checks almost all the boxes which explain its relevance in today’s fitness goals. It is unique, effective, easy to maintain, cost-effective, and versatile. The only hindrance that could be foreseen for those, who want to have one at home is the need to drill an attachment into the ceiling to attach the strap on. Most aren’t willing to go through that pain, which is why many commercial gyms come with a TRX station ready. All TRX exercises are bodyweight dependent, which introduces a unique take to lunges, press-ups, and much more.
TRX Versus Dumbbells
Dumbbells are one of the two weight categories that have kept their relevance in the gym setting for decades and for good reason. These handheld weights have an almost unrivaled amount of flexibility in their function, which could give TRX a run for its money. While the likes of shoulder presses, flies, and shrugs are some examples of exercises that dumbbells could support that TRX wouldn’t be able to, the latter’s focus on all-rounded body workouts also offer perks that dumbbells can’t match.
Side-plank tap, atomic press-ups, and pike are some exercises that are boosted when the legs are bound to the air. This encourages far more balance and the innate use of certain muscle groups that are not even the focus of the exercise at hand. Because of this, TRX covers a lot more ground faster if full-body workouts are the end goal.
Dumbbells can be used for compound exercises, but it truly shines when used for isolated workouts. Deltoids, traps, and forearms are primarily worked out exclusively using dumbbells. In this discussion, TRX and dumbbells are both versatile but serve different purposes. Both are viable for different goals. Isolating muscle groups to work on would be the dumbbell’s role while full-body regimes are where TRX will shine.
TRX Versus Barbells
The comparison between barbells and TRX is a little tricker to compare as both essentially cover multiple muscle groups at once. Military press, squats, deadlifts and bench press are the four signature exercises that barbells are known for. These exercises are compound by nature, which means muscle building, strength building and definition (to a certain extent) are the main focus. If your goals are to bulk, build strength and have strong technique, barbells are designed to have weights added.
TRX however, requires no such weight to be effective, but can be more difficult to get the hang of for newer members in the fitness community. Weak joints and muscles makes it difficult to balance correctly when tied to the TRX at the beginning, but things can get better with enough practice. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to double on fat loss and definition - which is where TRX and barbells differ. If the goal is to keep fit and build muscle endurance, TRX still has a place for you.
TRX Versus Machines
Between machines and TRX, both have a similar level of versatility and benefits, however machines cater to specific muscle groups rather than encompassing the same level of well-roundedness that TRX can provide. Exercises like shoulder presses, leg presses and lat pulldowns are useful isolates, but limit the user to a specific range of motion that may not capture as many secondary muscle groups as other equipment in the gym.
TRX Versus The Mat
Static exercises such as mountain climbers, planks and crunches are bodyweight exercises that do not require anything else, except for a mat. While this is one of the closest competitors to the TRX, the latter falls under the category of “Suspension Training”, and tackles more muscle groups than a standard bodyweight exercise.
The simple answer is that both are viable, but being suspended means that your body has to automatically use more strength to balance before even beginning the planned exercise. TRX also allows users to better select the weight distribution on a body part via suspension. Due to this, certain injured body parts can be avoided altogether if you are still keen to exercise.
TRX may have a lot of uses and has the flexibility to work on a myriad of different body parts, but its categorization of being a suspension-based exercise corners it into a niche of its own. To balance properly on a TRX requires a separate skill set that is not relevant to other equipment at the gym. Therefore, TRX is a good supplement to other body-weight exercises and is best used in conjunction with other programmes such as bodyweight exercises, yoga and even strength training. If the intention is to build mass and steady increase in muscle strength, TRX should not be an option.