Can TRX Replace Weights? (Answered)

The TRX suspension trainer is one of the best pieces of equipment for improving muscle size, strength, and endurance. 

However, many gym goers wonder how a pair of dangling straps can help build muscle. Can I really get the same results with a TRX that I can with free weights?

TRX training triggers the same muscle breakdown and repair cycle that traditional weight training does. As a result, TRX training is sufficient to replace traditional weight training for building muscle size, strength, and endurance.

When performing traditional weight training, we program our workouts based on our performance goals. The TRX can be used to achieve the same goals.

The key is understanding HOW to use the TRX, and how to program the training sessions effectively to meet those goals.

Key Takeaways:

  • TRX training is a sufficient replacement for weight training when it comes to building muscle.
  • The process of muscle breakdown and repair is comparable between TRX training and traditional weight training.
  • TRX training provides a wide variety of benefits that traditional weight training does not.
  • The key to effective TRX training is to choose the right exercises and training parameters for your goals.

The Effects TRX Have On Your Muscle

When programmed properly, TRX training produces comparable changes in muscle size and structure as traditional weight training. When strength training using TRX or weight training, our muscles break down as a result of the load they must overcome to perform the desired movement.

When we squat with a barbell, our muscles exert force to overcome the resistance of the weight on the bar. With sufficient load, our muscles break down.

After the weight training session, the body responds by releasing inflammatory neurochemicals and hormones to repair the muscle damage. The result is an increased number and size of muscle fibers. 

This same principle also occurs with TRX training. TRX training has been shown to have comparable effects on hormone balance, muscle activation, and muscle parameters to traditional weight training.

Ultimately, TRX training and weight training work with the same foundational principles: The amount of resistance our muscles overcome must be sufficient enough to cause muscle breakdown, and subsequent repair and growth.

TRX Training Vs. Weight Training

While weight training relies on the body overcoming external resistance in the form of free weights, TRX training involves overcoming bodyweight and gravity to perform a given movement.  This often challenges different muscles to provide more support, increasing the difficulty of a movement.

While both weight training and TRX training have their benefits, TRX training provides additional benefits such as:

  • Accessibility: TRX training can be performed anywhere that the suspension straps can be anchored securely.
  • Versatility: We can perform hundreds of different TRX exercises. Every muscle group in the body can be hit with a TRX workout when programmed effectively.
  • Variability: With hundreds of different exercise options and program parameters, it’s hard to get bored doing the same workouts over and over again.
  • Friendly for All Fitness Levels: TRX exercises can be modified from beginner trainers to the most advanced trainers. Any TRX exercise can be made easier or more challenging.
  • Increased Core Muscle Activation: The TRX challenges trainers to recruit their core musculature for effective exercise performance.

Example TRX Exercises for Beginners

The TRX Suspension Trainer is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym or your home gym. You can take it pretty much anywhere — and it unlocks countless bodyweight exercises to help you achieve amazing results.

With hundreds of different exercises to choose from, the TRX offers variety and versatility for targeting every muscle in the body. Just like traditional weight training, TRX training should be programmed to target your specific training goals.

TRX training is most effective when using a variety of exercises, along with manipulating variable parameters such as:

  • Resistance level for a given exercise
  • Set and rep schemes
  • Progressions
  • Rest intervals

TRX training is so much more than just inverted rows. Different exercises for specific muscle groups are listed below:

QuadsHamstrings and GlutesBackChestAbs
SquatsHamstring CurlInverted RowPushupPlank Tucks
Reverse LungeStraight-Leg Hip ExtensionFace PullChest FlyePlank Pikes
Forward LungeSingle-Leg RDLReverse FlyePike PushupAb Rollout
Pistol SquatAbductor LungePower PullGrappler FlyeOblique Crunches

How to Get the Most Out of Your TRX Workouts

Once you select the exercises you’re going to use, choosing the right parameters will maximize the benefits of the workout. 

Exercise selection: There are several different TRX exercises for each muscle group. Choosing the right exercise based on the muscle group and training level is key.

Exercise Intensity: Manipulating positioning changes resistance. For example, to make TRX rows more challenging, walk your feet further forward and assume a more inverted position. To make them easier, walk your feet back and stand more upright. 

Set and Rep Schemes: If your goal is to build muscle size, choose an intensity where you can perform 8-12 good reps but no more. If your goal is to improve endurance, choose an intensity you can perform for 12-15+ reps.

Rest Intervals: If your goal is to improve muscle strength or size, intensity should be sufficient to require longer rest breaks. If your goal is endurance or cardio, shorten rest breaks and perform more reps.