Are TRX Workouts Actually Effective?
Someone recently asked me this very question, so I thought it might be helpful if I dedicated today’s blog post to the answer.
The first thing you’re probably wondering is what are TRX workouts?
Basically, they are a type of suspension training, where you use your body weight as the primary form of resistance.
TRX is one of the companies that provides the equipment to do this type of training – and, due to their massive success, the name TRX has become almost synonymous with suspension training in recent years.
Although they now sell all sorts of equipment under the TRX brand, their bread and butter is the suspension straps that you would use for the bulk of these suspension workouts.
These are very versatile, and can be used pretty much anywhere, making them an interesting option for those that don’t see themselves consistently training at the same gym.
But, as you probably know, there are a lot of fancy workout contraptions out there, and in my opinion most of them simply aren’t worth the money.
Are TRX bands any different?
Well, like many things, there isn’t a black and white answer to this question. They can be useful, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, but they certainly aren’t for everybody…
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of doing TRX workouts, so that you can get a better sense of whether they’re a good option for you.
The Pros Of TRX Workouts
As I said before, TRX has gained a lot of popularity in recent years…
Indeed, many athletes – including professional baseball players and MMA fighters – are now ardent devotees of this type of training.
Here are some of the specific advantages of doing TRX training.
1) A gym membership isn’t required.
Some people don’t want to spend the money to join a gym, have a schedule that doesn’t allow for it – or simply don’t like working out at gyms!
If this sounds like you, then TRX workouts may be a good option to consider.
You can pick up their home-based training kit from Amazon for $170 here.
While this is obviously a sizable purchase, you only have to make it once and then you’re all set.
Then, if you want, you can toss your gym membership, and can literally start training anywhere you like (at home, outside, etc).
2) You can do your workouts in one place.
Now, assuming that you do like to workout at a gym, there is still a potential advantage to TRX workouts.
That is, you don’t have to go from machine to machine as part of your workout routine; instead, you can simply setup your TRX bands and do your entire workout in one place.
This can provide a simpler overall workout experience for some people, and will mean that you won’t interrupt the momentum of your workouts when you have to wait for a machine that someone else is using.
3) Good for building core strength.
One of the big selling points for TRX workouts is that they really help develop your core strength.
And this is certainly true – at least to some extent…
Basically, since you are having to stabilize yourself as part of pretty much every exercise that you’ll do using TRX bands, it can help to develop a strong, solid core.
This is useful for a number of reasons, but is especially important for injury prevention.
4) Increase your muscular endurance.
Since you are training with your own body weight, the focus of TRX workouts will generally be high-repetitions.
And while you can adjust resistance to some degree on the bands, it is more limited in that respect than if you were training with free weights.
However, if you are focused on building up your muscle endurance – as opposed to strength and size – then this might be ideal for you.
This is especially true if you are training for a specific sport, or other endurance-based activities.
5) You may save some money.
As I mentioned before, the TRX system is a one-time purchase.
You don’t have to pay for a monthly gym membership, which can certainly add up over time.
And, while it may seem expensive, if you compare it to having to buy a whole bunch of free weights, it comes out to be significantly cheaper.
The Cons Of TRX Workouts
Now that we’ve examined the positive aspects of doing TRX workouts, let’s look at the potential downsides.
1) Not as effective for building strength.
Compared to proper training with free weights, you aren’t going to build as much strength doing TRX workouts.
Yes, I know there are some people that would disagree with me, but they are simply wrong…
You see, there is a limit to how strong you are going to get training with something that provides fairly limited – and often imprecise – levels of resistance.
This doesn’t mean that the exercises aren’t hard to do – they certainly are – but the amount of weight that you are lifting is much less than what you can achieve with free weights.
It simply isn’t your best bet if one of your main goals is to get stronger.
2) Not as effective for building muscle size.
Following on from the above point, TRX workouts aren’t going to help you achieve that big, muscular look as effectively as training with free weights.
Muscular hypertrophy is most effectively induced by progressive overload – and the potential to induce this is more limited using TRX bands compared to more traditional weight training.
So, if you are mostly training to look good, TRX workouts probably aren’t going to be a good option for you.
3) They can be an acquired taste.
No doubt about it, these things simply aren’t for everyone…
If you really like lifting weights, then you are going to miss those sorts of movements if you try to switch to TRX workouts exclusively.
From personal experience, I can pretty much guarantee you that much!
I have known many people that have purchased these things, brought them to the gym for a few weeks as a novelty – but then stopped using them completely after a month or so.
Suspension training is undoubtedly an acquired taste – and one that, in my experience, many people will simply never acquire.
Summing it all up
So, should you go out and order TRX bands for yourself?
My honest recommendation would be to hold off, unless you are confident that this type of training really makes sense for you.
There is a lot of hype around these at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that they are your best option.
The last thing you want to do is pay almost $200 for a fancy contraption that you rarely use.
So, here is my specific recommendation:
If you are already working out at a gym, and are focusing primarily on strength and size, then you definitely can give these a miss.
On the other hand, if you don’t work out at a gym – or would prefer to exercise at a home/outside – AND you are more concerned with endurance training, then you may want to consider ordering yourself a set.
However, the bottom line is that these really aren’t the best option for most people that are exercising primarily to look better.
If that sounds like you, then save yourself the money and start following a sensible strength training program with weights instead.