Ask Stew: How TRX Can Enhance Your Military Fitness Training Program

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A sailor does TRX push-ups during a functional fitness class.
Chief Personnel Specialist Brian Kentosh does TRX push-ups during the last functional fitness class in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during the 2015 deployment. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kris R. Lindstrom/U.S. Navy photo)

Trying to figure out how to add in a new exercise type into a program can be challenging and easily strain and disrupt your current workouts if you are not careful. You can enhance current exercises and muscle groups easily by supplementing with TRX exercises as either a core exercise or supplement or replace a weight or calisthenics exercise with a similar TRX exercise. 

Here is an email from a reader who purchased a TRX suspension system and is seeking some guidance on how to use it with his current program.

Stew --

I just purchased a TRX system. Thanks for recommending this. I have a question. If I do a heavier lifting session at the gym on one muscle group, should I then focus on the same muscle group when I do TRX that same day or work on another muscle group? Thanks - Steve

Steve --

It is up to you how you want to supplement or replace exercises with TRX. You use it to make calisthenics harder or add more stability or core training to your weighted isolation exercises. For instance, to make push-ups harder, try the TRX Atomic Push-up for maximum repetitions in a set replacement of regular push-ups. Or you can top off your bench-press exercise with a TRX Chest Press or Reverse Fly (aka wide row) to supplement and balance your chest exercises by working the upper back.

But, yes, I would work the same group of muscles the same day. So on leg day, you could mix in TRX Suspended Lunges or TRX Leg Curls after a weight session or in a second workout later in the day that focuses on slow, deliberate movements that help with full range of motion, muscular balance and mobility. This way, you can do upper-body exercises the following day and allow your legs to recover.

Here is a sample leg workout that demonstrates how we mix in TRX with other calisthenics and weighted exercises. You either can do this in one session or break it up into a second session that focuses more on cardio and TRX elements:

Five-minute cardio warmup/stretch

(run, bike, etc.)

Continue warmup

Repeat five times.

  • Jumping jacks 10
  • Half squats 10

Weight, TRX, calisthenics set

Repeat three times.

  • Weighted squats 5-10
  • TRX suspension lunge 5/leg
  • Abs of choice or TRX rollouts for one minute

Repeat three times.

(Barbell lifts or dumbbells)

  • TRX squats 10/deep and stretch
  • Deadlift 5
  • TRX leg curls 10
  • Leg press 5-10

Rest/stretch as needed

Cardio session

Swim 1,000 meters with fins for time or bike a 20-minute pyramid, making the resistance tougher each minute.

Cooldown/stretch

There are many ways to add your new workout device into your training routine. You may find that you only want to lift heavy and not add in calisthenics or TRX into that program for a cycle. Then you can perform a cycle of more "hybrid" combinations of TRX, calisthenics and lifting, like the above example.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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