Updated: May 25, 2020
It's important that training information come from a credible source. With that being said, I hold three TRX certification: TRX Suspension Training, TRX Functional Training, and TRX Rip Training. Aside from teaching TRX classes in the past, I also developed my own digital "Introduction To TRX" curriculum with descriptions, instructions, example videos...the whole shebang. Lastly, I'm a competitive OCR athlete with elite/pro podiums at Spartan Race, Savage Race, Bone Frog Challenge, and Terrain Race...and I use TRX in my training.
Below, I'll give you information regarding four TRX exercises that you can begin incorporating to help with your training for OCR.
TRX HIP PRESS
The first exercise we're going to look at is the TRX Hip Press. Running makes up the majority of each Obstacle Course Race, and as such, I see lots of issues with athletes having hip & IT band issues. There are many things that can cause these issues, and the goal with the TRX HIP Press is to eliminate some of those issues; specifically regarding weakness in the glutes, hips, and hamstrings.
It isn't easy to do this exercise properly. The mistakes most people will make when first attempting this exercise are:
1: Pushing their feet away from their body instead of driving their heals down.
2: Not getting full hip extension (reverse plank position at the top of the movement).
3: Not engaging their core and letting their mid-section droop or sag.
4: Causing a seesawing motion with the straps due to uneven pressure from their feet.
When done properly (as shown in the video) your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and core musculature will all be engaged. Because the straps will seesaw if their isn't equal pressure on each one, you'll be applying an equal amount of force on each side when the exercise is properly performed. The balance and stability this provides are crucial for runners. Glute strength is also extremely important for running, as are all of the other muscle groups targeted by this exercise.
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TRX PISTOL SQUAT:
You've probably all heard of Pistol Squats. Pistol Squats require a significant amount of strength and stability in the lower body. Using the TRX allows for many of the benefits provided by a Pistol Squat, but at a lower level of difficulty so that more people can do it and build up the strength and stability to move on to traditional Pistol Squats.
Because you're holding the straps, the exercise doesn't require nearly as much hip stability and balance as it would without them. However, the straps aren't meant to be a crutch. The goal is to use the TRX straps ONLY AS MUCH AS NEED. The straps keep you from falling and hurting yourself. They give you the added stability you need to perform the exercise, but your glutes, hips, and legs as a whole, should be doing the majority of work to keep you upright. The BEST way to perform this exercise is slowly, and with control. We're building up hip strength and stability on each side individually with this exercise because, when running, your body is supported by only one leg at a time. If you don't have the strength and stability, joints and other muscle groups will pay the price.
The TRX Row is one of the most well-known TRX exercises. As everyone who has ever run an OCR knows, grip strength, forearm strength, and back strength are all extremely important for completing the majority of obstacles. The TRX row is good for everyone because it can always be made harder (TRX Single Arm Row, TRX Inverted Row, TRX Inverted Single Arm Row), but it is especially good for those who are not yet able to do a Pullup or Chinup.
All variations of the TRX Row will build grip strength, forearm strength, bicep strength, and strength throughout your back (lats, post-delts, rhomboids, taps, etc.). In the video shown (above), the angle at which I am standing to demonstrate the exercise isn't very steep which means I'm not lifting much of my body weight. However, if I were to slide my feet forward, towards the wall, I'd then have to lift more of my body weight in order to complete the movement. If you find TRX Rows too easy, even at very steep angles, try a TRX Inverted Row (below).
Common mistakes to avoid on the TRX Inverted Row are:
1: Letting you core droop or sag.
2: Letting your hips drop or sag.
3: Not completing the full range of motion (hands to chest at the top of the movement).
4: Starting too far forward or backward (your shoulders should be almost directly underneath the TRX anchor point before you begin pulling).
Just like the TRX Row (and its variations), you can use TRX Pullups to work on grip strength and your ability to hold your body weight in a hanging position. The main goal on this exercise is to use your upper body musculature as much as possible to complete the movement, and ONLY USE YOUR LOWER BODY AS NEEDED. I can't emphasize that point enough.
I've taken many clients through this exercise, and almost every single person has said it's easy the first time they try it. That's because they are doing it incorrectly by pushing up with their legs as they pull up. No matter how strong you are, if you are performing this exercise properly, you will feel significant stress (the good kind) on your arms and lats.
There are several hundred exercises (and variations) that can be done using the TRX Suspension Trainer. There are over a dozen that I personally use on a regular basis, and several dozen more variations that I'd recommend and program into athlete workouts for both injury prevention and performance in OCR.
If you currently use TRX to help you train for OCR, let me know! I love hearing from fellow TRX users. I'll also add that I'm not associated with TRX in anyway, so I hope it holds real meaning when I say that, if I only had one exercise tool to use for the rest of my life, I'd choose the TRX.
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Joel Hayes (Coach & Article Author)
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