An in-depth review of the TRX Suspension Trainer + access to our full database on TRX Suspension Trainer exercises and techniques (over 30 videos). Full comparison against the Jungle Gym and CrossCore 180. Exercise videos demonstrating Conditioning, Balance, Core, Strength, and Corrective Exercises for the TRX Suspension Trainer.
The TRX Suspension Trainer and the TRX Rip Trainer are essential pieces of equipment at Sand & Steel Fitness. TRX has done an amazing job on the build quality for these pieces of equipment. We’ve had TRX equipment in our gym for years, and it doesn’t wear down. The Suspension Trainer and Rip Trainer are great for conditioning, core, twist, recovery, and mobility. It’s also very safe for deconditioned clients and makes for excellent scaling of movements like the lunge and squat. The Suspension Trainer can be used effectively for various stretches and Yoga Asanas. Between easy portability and a ton of unique exercises, the TRX Suspension and Rip Trainer are a must have for any gym.
Many of our custom programs feature our proprietary CoreFit programming that features TRX equipment, inter alia. Our CoreFit programming focuses on improving natural range of motion and building strength through the full set of motion. Of course, core strength is prioritized, but so are shoulders, hips, and overall conditioning. Since many injuries occur during extreme range of motion movements, we slowly and deliberately improve range of motion in this form of training.
TRX which stands for Total Resistance eXercise is the manufacturer of two key pieces of equipment we use at Sand & Steel: the Suspension Trainer and the Rip Trainer.
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Summary of the TRX Suspension Trainer
The TRX Suspension Trainer is a special pieces of equipment when it comes to scaling exercises. For clients lack proper motor control it works very to make difficult exercises easier. TRX Suspension Trainer Movements Break Down as follows
- Rows and Curls: changing your angle/vector changes the scaling. Olympic Rings easily duplicate this pattern.
- Presses and Pushes with the handles: pushups and rollouts. Olympic Rings easily duplicate this pattern.
- Plank style with your feet in the stirrups. You can use a Bosu, Sorinex Glute Ham Roller, Furniture Sliders, Jungle Gym Trainer, or CrossCore 180 to duplicate this pattern.
- Situp Style with your heels in the stirrups. You can use a Bosu, Sorinex Glute Ham Roller, Jungle Gym Trainer, or CrossCore 180 to duplicate this pattern.
- Side Plank Style with your hip on the side. You can use a Bosu, Jungle Gym Trainer, or CrossCore 180 to duplicate this pattern.
- Lunge and Squat Style with your hands holding grips. You can use a Band or Exercise Tube to duplicate this pattern.
- Flys and Extensions. You can use a Band or Exercise Tube to duplicate this pattern.
As you can see all of the TRX Suspension Trainer Exercises can be duplicated with other equipment. Where the TRX Suspension Trainer excels is in its versatility. Indeed we are able to write entire strength and conditioning programs using this one of piece of equipment alone.
The TRX Suspension Trainer Showdown
If you’d like to purchase any of the below pieces of equipment on Amazon, here are your links
- TRX Suspension Trainer
- Cheap but Sturdy Wall Anchors Note, you must mount these (and the expensive brand name ones) directly into the stud of your walls. Don’t even consider drywall screws… they won’t work… don’t even think about it.
- Jungle Gym
- CrossCore 180
- BodyLastics Exercise Tubing
The TRX Suspension Trainer
The TRX Suspension Trainer is an effective tool for people are out of shape because it is instantly scalable. All one has to do is to modify the angle of the trainer to adjust it. It’s difficult to use without coaching because very few of the movements are self-explanatory. While deceptively simple, the TRX Suspension Trainer has both very easy and very challenging movements. At Sand & Steel we use over 70 different movements and 200 movement patterns with the Suspension Trainer.
TRX Rip Trainer
The RIP trainer features a metal pole and elastic band attached to a wall mounted anchor. It is very effective for plyometric training as well as twisting and resisting twisting forces. Plyometric training is very useful for burning fat, but can be an issue for people who are sensitive to higher impact exercises. The Rip Trainer can neutralize some of the shock normally observed in conventional exercises. The Rip Trainer is also really effective and build core strength, because of the exercises feature an imbalanced load that requires core activation.
Jungle Gym Trainer vs TRX Suspension Trainer
Remember the jungle gym trainer from 2001-2002. It’s an excellent Suspension Trainer made by Lifetime Fitness. It was a great piece of equipment back then, and it still is very good today. I personally enjoy their foot cradles more as opposed to TRX. I also like the dual anchor design, versus the single version.
Is it better than the TRX Suspension Trainer? For the price, yes. But is it better overall, no. It’s easier to use and more versatile. It lacks styling (it looks cheap and outdated with it’s orange/red handles.) The only real limitation on the Jungle Gym (purchase link) is that it doesn’t include the balance component that the TRX Suspension Trainer does. Also the handle diameter is too large and not as grippy as the TRX.
A big plus for the Jungle Gym Trainer by Lifetime is that it emulates the Olympic rings very nicely (dips, pullups, ring tucks, etc.) The TRX Suspension Trainer doesn’t handle these exercises very well.
The CrossCore 180 vs TRX Suspension Trainer
TRX Suspension Training too easy for you? Unlikely, because I can break even the most seasoned athletes in just a few minutes with either the Rip Trainer or Suspension Trainer. Sometimes though, we all like to step up the challenge. Enter the CrossCore. The CrossCore 180 is very similar to the TRX Suspension Trainer, except it has a moveable pulley that allows the ropes ends to slide back and forth.
Because of the movable pulley, the CrossCore can do a few exercises that the TRX Suspension Trainer cannot. Plank flutter, Side plank flutter, 180 Row, 180 Pushup to name a few. I wouldn’t say that these movements are essential to training, they are more “fun” factors for adding variety into a workout. As for setup, the TRX Suspension Trainer is more easily adjustable and is far lower in weight.
While it’s true that the CrossCore can also mimic certain basic functional trainer exercises like a pulldown — it’s really no substitute for having a dedicated machine. Overall, I’d choose the TRX Suspension Trainer of the CrossCore 180. Note, the CrossCore has updated its design since the original version. We have the older one shown in the picture, the new one looks pretty snazzy.
The Exercise Tube 180 vs TRX Suspension Trainer
So there must be a 100 different companies that make exercise tubing. I’ve used them all, my recommendation for which brand to buy is follows. Bodylastics makes bands that don’t break, provide even resistance, with a solid clip, and consistent design. It’s the brand we use at Sand & Steel, so don’t go cheap on this one.
So, now that you know which brand of exercise tubing to buy, should you buy it over the TRX Suspension Trainer. Yes… and no. There are a lot of exercises that you can do with pieces of equipment. Rows, flys, curls, pushups, extensions, etc. You can even get creative and loop the exercise tubing in the Step 360 or suspend it from the ceiling. In most cases, though you are pulling from a wall anchor. Overall, exercise tubing is better for hypertrophy and corrective exercise and TRX Suspension Training better for core and condioning. I recommend you buy both.
The TRX Suspension Trainer in CrossFit
The Suspension Trainer excels in making challenging bodyweight exercises easier or harder. Suspension Training itself is merely a form of scaling bodyweight movements. Whereas 99% of the population doesn’t have the requisite strength to make use of the Olympic rings (despite what CrossFit fans may say… muscle-ups are not for everyone.) Speaking of CrossFit and TRX Suspension Trainer, the TRX is useful bodybuilding tool since it’s easy to maintain time under tension (tut) by varying the angle. However, it doesn’t really work as a competition piece of equipment so you won’t see it the CrossFit games anytime soon. Since it’s “The Sport of Fitness” not the “Science of Training” the TRX isn’t a good tool for many CrossFit boxes (especially ones where the client’s main goal is to finish first.) On the contrary, if your CrossFit athlete is looking to fix injuries or work imbalances, the TRX Suspension Trainer is far more versatile the Olympic Rings.
One size needed. In contrast to equipment like the kettlebell, dumbbells, etc., the Suspension Trainer is adjustable. So while it does have a lofty price tag of about $250, you only really need to buy one.
TRX Suspension Trainer Programming
TRX Suspension Trainer Programming uses higher volume than what most “weightlifters” are used to. So if are 3 sets of 10 kind of guy, let’s get that idea out of your system. Most TRX Suspension Trainer Exercises are best configured with movement times for 30-90 seconds (some as long as 3 minutes.) Sure you can count out 50 reps (like a kettlebell), but sometimes it’s simpler to just use a clock.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is not a gym in a bag. They used to advertise that once upon a time. It’s a powerful versatile tool to add your arsenal from a training and programming point of view. It was never intended to replace weights, and TRX themselves offers a “mixed-use” certification that has personal trainer programming in various other pieces of equipment like medicine balls.
Paul has been teaching TRX for over 10 years:
He has taken the following courses taught by Frazier Quelch, the lead programmer for TRX:
- Suspension Trainer Qualified by TRX Corp.
- TRX Advanced Core Training 2013
- TRX Advanced Rip Training 2013
- TRX Partner Fusion Workout 2014
- TRX Rip: Leaner, Faster, Stronger
- TRX Training for Active Seniors