6 Dynamic TRX Exercises To Strengthen Your Arms

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Woman exercising with TRX bands

You don’t have to lift heavy weights to have a serious arm day in the gym. Should we say it one more time for the people in the back? We won’t, but seriously. There are plenty of exercises that you can do to strengthen your arms and put them to the test—without having to lift a single dumbbell or barbell.

So, if we’re skipping the weights, let’s talk about using the TRX suspension trainer—yes, those long, simple-yet-daunting looking straps that hang down in the gym with handles and foot cradles. Although still considered a piece of gym equipment, the TRX system is based on two components which make them live in a league of their own: gravity and bodyweight. That means, depending on your body position, you have the ability to control the difficulty of each movement. Score! But wait…it gets better. With the TRX suspension trainer, you can focus on strength training for certain muscle groups, all while simultaneously working your core, mobility, stability, strength and balance.

TRX trainers are an extremely useful tool for those who want to get their entire body in better shape or improve their overall performance. If that sounds like you, don’t go anywhere because we’re about to give you all the information you need to know to have a killer upper body workout while focusing on strengthening and toning your arms with the TRX trainer.

Before the Straps

Whether you’re a TRX pro, or a complete newbie, here is some important information to keep in mind:

  1. Starting position matters! Check in with your feet and body to make sure you have the proper form before starting each exercise. Your body should always mimic a plank position, unless noted otherwise.
  2. Stabilize by utilizing your abs. One of the most common mistakes people make is forgetting to engage your core during movements; this will help keep you balanced and help you avoid injury.
  3. Practice makes perfect! Although it may look easy, TRX training can be difficult and frustrating in the beginning and that’s okay. Keep at it! (And remember, always consult a personal trainer if you have questions or uncomfortable starting out.)

*cue exhale*

You’ve got this!

TRX Biceps Curl

The TRX Bicep Curl targets your biceps, shoulders, back and core.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12-15

  1. Begin by grabbing the padded handles (not the foot cradle straps that hang down) so that your knuckles and palms are facing up.
  2. Slowly walk your feet forward, until your arms are fully extended—you should be leaning slightly back. Be sure to keep your core tight and your shoulders back to ensure that your body is in a straight line.
  3. While keeping your elbows stationary, curl to lift your body forward, bringing your knuckles towards your forehead.
  4. Maintain a strong plank position and slowly lower your body back down with control until your arms are extended again.
  5. Repeat!

TRX Triceps Extensions

The TRX Triceps Extension is a nice complement to the TRX Bicep Curl since it targets the triceps on the back side of your arm, while also working your biceps, shoulders, forearms, and even your calves.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12-15

  1. Grab the TRX handles so that your palms are facing down.
  2. Slowly lean forward while extending your arms out and raising your hands to the sky. Your biceps should be next to your ears.
  3. Pause to be sure you have good form. Your body should be in a straight line, similar to when you’re in a plank position, while making an approximate 45-55-degree angle with the floor.
  4. If all looks good, press up onto your toes to engage your core, lower body and leg muscles.
  5. Now, slowly lower your chest down and forward by bending at the elbow and bringing your hands back behind your head. Work to keep your elbows stationary and in-line with your temples.
  6. Bring your body back to the starting plank position by simply just extending your arms.
  7. Repeat!

TRX One Arm Squat-to-Press

Get ready to incorporate your upper AND lower body with the TRX one arm squat-to-press!

Sets: 3

Reps: 12-15 each side

  1. Get a dumbbell that you feel confident enough to press overhead with one arm 12-15 times. Hold it in your right hand down by your side.
  2. Grab the TRX handle with your other hand and bring your knuckles back to your chest to create tension in the strap.
  3. Set your feet shoulder-width apart (imagine you’re standing on train tracks) and squat down, keeping your body square and upright. The right arm with the dumbbell should still be extended down and there should be tension in the strap.
  4. Use the TRX strap to pull yourself up, as you simultaneously curl and press the dumbbell to the sky and back down to the starting position near the side of your leg.
  5. Now switch the dumbbell to your other hand and repeat after 12-15 reps!

TRX Table-Top Rows

TRX table-top rows will work your upper and low back muscles, while also engaging your legs, glutes and hamstrings.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12-15

  1. You will first need to shorten the TRX straps all the way. If you’re unsure how to shorten the straps yourself, ask a coach or personal trainer to assist.
  2. Grab the handles and slowly walk your feet forward while leaning back until you are in a “tabletop” position with your arms fully extended and your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Your shoulder girdle (the set of bones that connect your shoulders) should be centered directly below the anchor point of the straps.
  3. Engage your glutes, hamstrings and core as you pull yourself upwards, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top. Also, be sure to bring your hips with you to preserve proper form. 
  4. With control, lower yourself back down.
  5. Repeat!

TRX Push-Up to Chest Fly

The TRX push-up/fly is a combination of two common exercises that target your chest and shoulders: the push-up and the chest fly. Pretty explanatory, right? But when you combine the two moves and add in the TRX straps, it gets a little trickier.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12-20

  1. Grab the TRX handles so the foot cradles are hanging down and your palms are facing the floor.
  2. Put yourself in a push-up or plank position with your feet together. You should be standing on the balls of your feet.
  3. As you lower your body towards the ground (similar to a push-up), fly one arm out to the side, rotating it ever-so-slightly so that your pinky finger is towards the ground. The other arm should stay locked in the starting position at a 90-degree angle. This will focus the exercise on one arm at a time.
  4. As you slowly push yourself up, tighten your core while bringing your arm back in so that both arms are extended in front of you.
  5. Alternate between arms and repeat!

TRX “V” Flys

With the TRX “V” fly, you will use the straps to pull yourself up into the shape of the letter… you guessed it: V! This exercise is great for your shoulders, traps, upper back and even forearms.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12-15

  1. Start off in a similar arm position to the TRX bicep curl, but with your palms facing down instead. Your arms should be fully extended with your feet together, while you are leaning slightly back.
  2. With your shoulders rolled back for good posture, pull your body up into a standing position by moving your arms outward into a “V” formation. Be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top while you keep maximum tension on the straps. No slack!
  3. Return back to the starting position and repeat.

Modifications for Back Relief

If you struggle with back problems or feel your back is overcompensating during any of these exercises, please listen to what we’re about to say.

First and foremost: if it hurts, stop what you’re doing. Certain types of pain are OK while exercising, but if pain persists, we always recommend seeking the help and advice of a professional.

But, if you’re just someone who battles non-injury related back problems or feel that the TRX trainer system is just putting a little too much stress on your back, here’s a quick tip: it’s all in your feet. Say what? Let us explain…

For exercises where you’re facing TOWARDS the anchor point (where the strap is hanging from), simply kick-stand one foot backwards. For example, during the TRX bicep curl, you could step your right foot back, so that there is a slight bend in your right leg. This small modification will relieve some of the stress that was once on your lower back and redistribute to your leg. Be sure to switch which leg is back so you’re not favoring one side.

Conversely, for exercises facing AWAY from the anchor point, kick-stand your foot forward. One exercise where you could do this is the TRX push-up to chest fly. Once in the starting position, bring your left foot forward so that there’s a slight bend in your left knee.

And that’s it! Go ahead and give these exercises a try!

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