The 12 Most Common TRX Suspension Training Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
Step aside exercise and fitness resistance bands and beloved balance balls! The TRX Suspension Trainer is here to stay—and for good reasons, too. Now considered a mainstay at most gyms and health clubs across the country, the TRX suspension workout system was developed and utilized by the Navy SEALs. The TRX system is a form of suspension training that uses two things we all have readily available: gravity and body weight. This ergonomic approach will help strength train all your muscle groups and burn fat, while also working on your range of motion, flexibility, balance and core stability. The TRX Suspension workout system has plenty of options and is perfect for any level of exercise expertise, ranging from professional athletes to newbies who have never stepped foot in a gym.
We’ll be honest, although the TRX system seems like a simple exercise tool to help you get in good shape, these suspension straps can actually trick you into making some common mistakes and prevent you from getting the full benefit out of your TRX suspension trainer. Plus, if you use the TRX incorrectly, you may run the risk of injury—and we don’t want that.
But wait—there’s good news! We’re about to break down the twelve TRX sins that you might not even know you’re making while using the suspension straps.
And remember, if the following list reads like a foreign language, we recommend saving this for later and first talking to a person trainer who can help apply these tips to your TRX Suspension Trainer exercises.
The Most Common TRX Mistakes
Thinking the TRX Will Do the Work for You
The TRX suspension trainer is only as effective as the person using it. Let us explain. Mental focus is key when you’re working out with the TRX suspension trainer. No matter your physical fitness level, you always should apply the “mind to muscle” principle to your TRX moves and think about each muscle group you’re engaging. Remember, you can make any exercise more or less challenging; all you have to do is change your body angle in your starting position.
Just like you can’t expect to lose weight and get in good shape without a healthy diet, healthy food and healthy exercise, you can’t expect the TRX Suspension workout system to magically make you stronger and burn fat. You are in control of your own destiny!
Placing Your Feet in the Wrong Spot
Your feet and their starting position have the ability to make or break an exercise. Whether resting in the bottom of the foot cradles, or on the floor in standing position, it’s important to understand where your feet should be placed before beginning a movement. Not sure about starting positions? Consult with a personal trainer or do your research.
Disengaging Your Core
One of the most common mistakes we see is forgetting to engage the core—especially while in plank position. It’s the key to having perfect body positioning, but it also allows every movement to double as a TRX ab workout. Score! Who needs to have a favorite TRX ab exercise, when they’re all ab exercises?
But let us be perfectly clear, engaging your core does NOT mean sucking in while holding your breath. When you feel your core sagging, simply tighten your abs, glutes, and back muscles to bring your body into a straight line. Imagine someone is holding a string in the middle of your lower back and is gently pulling it upwards to eliminate the “bowl” effect in your back.
Resting the Straps on Your Arms
Another easy-to-remember rule is never let the straps rest on your arms—this most commonly happens in upper body exercises like the chest press or push-up. If the straps are rubbing against your shoulders in the plank position, simply squeeze your shoulder blades together and move the TRX handles up slightly until you can do the same movement free of straps-on-skin.
Uneven Pressure on the Sides
If the TRX straps feel lopsided, or if you’re swinging back and forth more than usual in the plank position, it’s most likely because of uneven pressure. Always be sure to check and make sure that the center loop divider below the anchor point is flat before getting into starting position. If it’s not, simply flatten the straps by adjusting the TRX handles so they are the same length.
If that’s not the problem, you most likely need to focus on engaging your core while in plank position and putting equal amounts of pressure in each of the handles.
You Don’t Understand What the Yellow Line Markers Indicate
Okay, to be fair, this isn’t an obvious one. If you look closely (like, really closely) near the top of the TRX straps, you will see a single, yellow stitched line. Travel farther down the straps and you’ll see a double yellow stitched line. These are guides meant to provide proper strap positioning so that your handles are always at optimal height for your full-body TRX routine.
The yellow tab above the buckle is what you use to measure the alignment. When the tab is near the bottom of the straps, it means they are “all the way lengthened.” To shorten the straps from there, bring the tab to the double yellow line. To shorten them all the way, bring the tab to the single yellow line.
Be sure to adjust the TRX suspension straps to the correct length before getting into starting position.
You’re Not Using the Kickstand Modification
If your back starts to bug you during your workout, or if you suffer from chronic back issues and don’t want to give up on your TRX total body workout quite yet, then it’s time for the kickstand.
For example, to take stress and pressure off your back, all you have to do is bring your left foot forward (or backwards, depending on the exercise) and use it to support your body weight as you complete your upper body and lower body movements. Be sure to alternate which leg you use!
The TRX Has Excess Slack
If there is one rule that you take and implement from this article, let it be this one: no slack allowed! Slack in the straps means your body has become disengaged and you’re no longer consciously bringing yourself through the movement anymore, even if just for a moment. Total resistance exercises require resistance, 100% of the time.
You’re Using Momentum
As you start to get fatigued and tired, you may notice that you’re swinging and using the momentum to complete some of your upper body suspension trainer exercises. Not only does this break your body’s functionality, it can lead to developing bad habits and injuries in the future that could require physical therapy. If you find this to be happening, take a rest for a few seconds and return to your starting position, or try a uni-set structured workout.
Joints Aren’t Positioned Correctly
Keeping with the theme of the “mind to muscle” connection, once you’re in starting position, be aware of where your joints are pointing. Flaring elbows, incorrect pelvic tilts, rounded shoulder blades and roaming knees during the TRX squat are the guiltiest culprits out there. If you believe you may be falling victim to any of these, ask a personal trainer or coach to evaluate your form—they’ll be happy to help!
Your Feet Are Too Small for the Foot Cradle
For some lower body suspension trainer exercises, like the hamstring curl or high plank position, you’ll need to use the foot cradles. If you find that they’re too big, or that your feet are falling out, do a double loop through before getting into starting position! It will minimize the loop area and provide you with more support.
Overthinking and Overcomplicating the Exercises
One of the easiest mistakes to make is to see the TRX system as being “too simple.” With so much variety and a wide selection of TRX exercises to choose from, it’s tempting to try out the craziest, most challenging moves; but sometimes it’s best to stick to the huge collection of basic TRX exercises first. You can get a great workout by incorporating simple exercises into your full-body TRX routine.
You will benefit much more by mastering the best and basic TRX exercises first, then progressing when truly able. K.I.S.S., keep it simple, studs!