Written by: Sensei Pervez B Mistry – IOGKF 8th Dan – India

When I first laid my hands on the TRX Suspension System, two years ago, I soon realized that it was sheer genius in its apparent simplicity.

The second thought that struck me was why the heck didn’t I think of it. And before any one asks what does TRX stand for let me inform one and all that I still haven’t figured it out.

But what I have figured out is that this uncomplicated arrangement of a strap, handles and loops is undoubtedly the best thing that was invented since dumbbells and barbells came into existence. Its not only the number of exercises you can do (at last count about 400) but also the type of workout you can get. Cardio; Strength; Muscular endurance; balance; Muscular Power; Neuro-Muscular Coordination; Flexibility to name just a few.  In short it is great for sports oriented athletes, Military personnel, Personal Trainers, Exercise Instructors and I have used it for re-hab also.

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Its extreme versatility in the type of exercises one can do and that it can be adapted for the complete beginner to a sports professional and, combined with its portability, makes it a must have training unit.

The Inventor of the TRX,  ‘Randy Hetrick’  a US Navy Seal Commando  got the idea of training himself and his team mates to stay in top physical shape as their lives depended on their fitness and  to be able to train any where and everywhere; in Airplanes, and even in Submarines. The first TRX was a training harness made from parachute webbing hand – stitched together by boat repair tools.

Today his Company, Fitness Anywhere Inc., which has come on the Fitness scene three years ago has done extensive research and keeps coming out with exercise programs for the serious athlete in practically all sports.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way condemning other forms of exercise, be it Yoga, Weight training, Power lifting, running, swimming, or even just taking a brisk walk. These are definitely great ways to workout. The TRX suspension can give you the benefits gained from all these methodologies rolled into one package. Its ease of use and portability is also a major factor. You can hang it on a door, a tree and even a lamppost (which I have done to show a friend right in front of a five star hotel at 1am in the morning).

As I am convinced that this is a super way of training especially for people on the move and not having time to go to the gym and train, last year at International Okinawan Gasshuku in Okinawa, I presented Shihan Higaonna the TRX Professional Bundle and demonstrated some of the exercises and combination exercises specific to Karate-do. He was quite appreciative especially when I informed him that it would improve his gripping and fore-arm strength.  (Those of you who know Shihan Higaonna are probably laughing yourselves silly at the above remark. I don’t blame you I have been at the receiving end many a time. However no matter how strong a person is, you can get even stronger).

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 One of the most important factors in TRX training is that the entire body is utilized no matter what exercise you are performing. We all know for example that Squats are the body’s number One builder. The reason being, that you are using most of the major muscles in performing this simple exercise. Similarly, when training with the TRX regardless of the exercise the entire body works out. For example in the Bicep curl with the TRX, the body is at an angle which is adjusted to either give you more or less resistance. Whilst the Bicep muscles are the main agonists the back muscles become ant-agonists and the core muscles along with the Glutes, ham strings and quads act as synergists and stabilizers.

The three main principles of TRX  training are:

  1. Vector Resistance or angle of resistance, and this involves a person’s working angle in relation ship with the center of gravity. Most of the upright exercises can give one or more resistance by increasing the angle from the beginning position. The bicep curl exercise as explained above comes under this category.
  2. Stability: It is a known fact that the body’s base of support and center of gravity affect the intensity of the exercise. The narrower the base of support along with a change in the body’s position which affects the body’s center of gravity, will increase the level of difficulty in the exercise. For example when you do a single leg squat as opposed to a two leg squat.
  3. Pendulum Swing: This Principle comes in use in some standing exercises and mainly in the floor exercises positions, where most of the body weight is placed on the hands or onto the feet suspended in the loops under the handles. Here the level of difficulty may be changed by moving towards or away from the support point of the TRX

 Training regularly with this suspension system has another great advantage. It improves and enhances to a major extent the trainees posture, which is fundamental to any sporting activity and even in just being healthy and fit.

In Martial Arts in general and for Karate-do in particular the TRX suspension system is an ideal training tool. To excel in your sport today the buzz word is “sport specific training”. In other words to mimic your movements in an exercise format. For example in Judo if you wanted to work in perfecting a “Tai-Otoshi” or the Body drop throw,  you would need to develop the quadriceps, the glutes, the core, the mid back, shoulders, chest and lats.  Hold the TRX handles facing the anchor point, and lean back wards. Now do a full deep knee squat, follow into a hip drop and do an overhead pull on the handles to pull your self into an near upright position. Do 20 reps by 2 to 3 sets.  You may also mimic the throw adding a squat just before the throwing action. In Karate-do if you want to improve your speed, strength and power in your geri-waza (kicking techniques), there are a variety of exercises along with the kicking technique that you can practice. For example; for the front kick do a squat and a kick alternating the legs; for Mawashi geri do a side lunge springing up with a circle kick; for the yoko geri, do the cross squat with a side kick; and for the ushiro geri do the front lunge (back facing the anchor point) spring up pivot and do the back kick.  The list is endless and only as short as your imagination. Within a few short months of training, you will be well on your way making up your own combinations of exercise and techniques.

Log onto the well designed web site www.fitnessanywhere.com and go through the exercise videos and merchandise. I would suggest to purchase the TRX Professional Bundle which includes the TRX suspension system, a door anchor, a laminated exercise work out sheet, a VCD and a booklet that shows you how to set it up and start exercising. There are separately sold exercise workouts on VCD’s are really good and top quality. Or type in TRX Suspension Training on You tube and you will get a hit of more than 10 pages.

For Professionals in the fitness industry, you have the opportunity to earn as an affiliate member. You have the option to earn cash or get a US$. 25.00 discount on their products. Log onto their web site to learn more.

Below is a 40 minute workout with the TRX designed by me and being worked on by some of my students. The gains they have made in terms of speed, and strength after three months of twice a week training was quite astounding.

Do a 15 minute warm up of Junbi Undo.

The TRX 30 min workout for Karate Practioners.

No.                Exercises Beginner Advanced
1. Back lunge with front kick 1 x 20 2 sets x 1min.
2. Side lunge drop with circle kick 1 x 20 2 sets x 1 min.
3. *Squat with back kick 1 x 20 2 sets x 1 min.
4. Hamstring Curls 1 x 20 2 sets x 1 min.
5. Chest Press 1 x 20 2 sets x 1 min.
6. Hip drop with overhead raise 1 x 10 2 sets x 40 sec.
7. Hip drop with reverse flys 1 x 10 2 sets x 40 sec.
8. Bicep Curls 1 x 10 2 sets x 40 sec.
9. Kneeling tricep extension 1 x 10 2 sets x 40 sec.
10. **Leg suspended sit-ups 1 x 10 2 sets x 40 sec.
11. Oblique leg raises 1 x 10 2 sets x 1 min.
12. Leg suspended knee tucks 1 x 10 2 sets x 40 sec.

Advanced Workout:

One Leg Cross squats with yoko geri: Do a one leg squat crossing your free leg in front and behind the standing leg, as you come up from the second cross do a yoko geri.

Lying Hamstring Kicks: Lie down on your back with the TRX in single mode. Place one foot in the cradle . Raise your hip & with the free leg do a knee tuck with a powerful extension in line with the other leg, then do a second knee tuck and then do an overhead or 90 degree kick. Do this slowly.

Side Kick Press: On your back with both legs in the stirrups, do a double leg tuck with hip raise, squeezing your glutes.

Standing Landis Or reverse lunge with hiza geri or snap front kick: Have a Partner standing in front of you. Stand facing away from the TRX in single mode and place one foot in the stirrup. Do a reverse lunge and as you come up hold your partners shoulders and do a hiza geri with the standing leg. As you get stronger do a front snap kick with the standing leg.

Balance lunge with reverse punch: TRX in single mode at full length just off the floor. Place one foot in the loop. Now balancing slowly lower on one knee and perform a reverse punch as in Sanchin slowly and powerfully, then return to standing position.

Wide stance squat with two hand overhead block: TRX in mid position. Go into a wide stance. Drop into a Shiko Dachi squat and at the same time do a morote jodan uke.

Low row into Plank on knees: Do a low row then step forward with both legs, drop slowly on knees and continue into an arm extended plank.

On fore-arms (advanced on hands): in Plank position with side knee tuck to elbow or a mawashi geri using the entire leg. On hands do a push up with the knee tuck or extended mawashi geri at the same time.

* For beginners just squat and kick backwards. For advanced do the technique as explained above on Page 3.

**On completion of the sit up raise hands in the overhead position.


A word of caution; go easy with this program and learn to do these exercises correctly first before attempting even the beginner level of reps. Take a 30 second break between sets, and keep re-hydrated. Also do a full body passive stretch routine at the end of the workout.

On a last note do look up two of the official TRX DVD’s one of which is a real kick-ass workout called “TRX Performance – Train like the Pros” and “TRX Biomechanics: Healthy Back” which helps in relieving back strain and stresses on realignment.  After a session of ‘Zenkutsu-dachi’ training it’s a big help.

Video clips of many of these exercises are now available. Click here to see them.