I am sure by now all of us have seen and heard adds on TV, billboards, radio, etc... and seen vendors at race expos and other fitness related venues hawking the "latest and greatest" in fitness products. Many of these products come with the promise of 6 pack abs from a variety of activities ranging from full scale, full body, high intensity workouts, all the way to sitting on the couch eating potato chips while an electronic gizmo electrocutes your abs into buffness. For the most part, in my humble opinion, the majority of these products would in fact yield some result in that they are aimed at taking a relatively inactive, out of shape person (see: Betty the bon-bon eating housewife), and getting them performing some type of physical activity for at least some portion of their day. Be it 30, 15, 9, 7, or 6 minutes, they are getting them moving. It was something. Few of these products however, targeted an audience of people who were already, for the most part, active, fit and athletic. Even fewer targeted those same types of people with the intent to improve their performance in their chosen sport. This is where TRX differs from the vast majority of the other fitness products out there.
Like any other competitive triathlete who maintains a "day job" my "free time" is pretty scarce. Between the 3 disciplines, work, eating, sleeping and life in general, my ability to get to the gym without sacrificing one of the foregoing was, to be generous, pretty limited. Then I came across the TRX suspension training system.
As triathletes, even given the "cross-training" nature of our sport, we tend to be a rather limited lot. That is, we spend so much time operating in a singular plane, going forward while swimming, riding and running, that the muscles required to change planes, get ignored, diminish and atrophy. Hence the 10hr Ironman who finds himself laid up and sore for 2 days after spending 30mins playing soccer with his nephews at a family BBQ.
The reality is, that the benefits we triathletes can realize from building a strong foundation of core and stabilizer muscles are numerous. A powerful swim stroke uses a whole chain of muscles literally from head to toe. Power generation on the bike starts from and is enhanced greatly by having a strong core. A strong back will allow you to stay in an aero position longer and more comfortably. And that same strong core and back combined with a strong system of stabilizer muscles will help you develop power and keep your running form in check deeper into the run leg. Maybe the most important benefit however, is that a strong body is one that is more resistant to injury. For all these reasons, the list of triathletes who use the system is long: Chris Lieto, Tyler Stewart, James Cotter, etc... are among other athletes like Drew Brees who all claim to have had their "game lifted" by the TRX system.
I wasn't blessed with too many great "triathlete" attributes when I came into this sport, but my history of lifting weights had given me a strong platform to build off. After the last couple years focusing on swim/bike/run, my strength began to decline. With less and less time in the gym, I began to lose that foundation. Enter TRX. I got the system a couple weeks ago and have been very impressed.
First off, for once the name of a company bears truth. "Fitness Anywhere" makes the TRX system and it is truly capable of just that. You can use this thing anywhere. On a door, a tree, a rafter, a pull-up bar, etc... It also comes in a handy little carrying case that is no bigger than your average shaving/makeup bag making travel easy.
Secondly, IT WORKS! Using body weight not only adds to the convenience and ease, but it also allows anyone to easily control the loads. The suspension training aspect puts your body in a bit of a foreign environment, forcing you to use all those little and often neglected muscles to stabilize yourself while performing the exercises on the major muscle groups. You feel it IMMEDIATELY. In fact I felt like a little bit of a wuss as I was only able to go about 20mins in my first couple workouts. Even with those limited durations, I was FEELING it the next day when swimming and riding. After seeing those effects, I have promised myself that I will keep using the system at least 2x/week leading up to and through Boise 70.3, Buffalo Springs and onto Ironman Lake Placid. I am confident I will realize some real benefits from it.
So word to the wise: Get yourself one! But take it easy in your first couple workouts or you'll pay big the next day.