I’m a San Diego firefighter by trade, and I’m also a competitive Crossfitter. I feel like being good at one makes me even better at the other, so I’m always looking for new ways to augment my strength and get in better shape.
I’ve found the key to making gains in my Olympic lifts is accessory work; exercises that work the smaller and lesser-used muscles to support and strengthen the larger ones. The TRX Tactical Gym Suspension Trainer is perfect for this.
It’s a portable training kit you can use pretty much anywhere, and it’s become a staple of my regular training routine. And the fact that it’s portable is absolutely golden. I don’t always work at the same station, so I can pack up the kit and take it with me wherever I go. Each station in our department has different gym equipment and setups, so the TRX just goes on the rig wherever we go. For people like me with unpredictable duty schedules, this is great.
On this job, you’re always moving a lot. Throughout the day and at all hours of the night, we’re carrying equipment, putting ladders up to roofs, lifting patients on heavy gurneys, or pullying heavy, wet fire hose through tight spaces. Our muscles are worked daily, even on those slow days. So the TRX system is perfect for preparing our bodies for the daily grind, as well as for that one fire of our careers that we’re always on the cusp of responding to.
This is a very common exercise with the TRX, and one I do all the time at the fire house. Similar to an upside pushup, but this way I can really isolate and strengthen both my lats and my triceps. These are ring rows I did at the fire house. It’s a common exercise I use the system for. The movement is very similar to an upside-down pushup, but this way I can really isolate and strengthen both my lats and my triceps.
Holding the TRX in both hands, step back, and let your arms extend all the way out way out. When you row up, keep your back as straight as possible. Don’t compromise your lumbar and curl your back as you row. This way you work the muscles you want to work without hurting your low back. I like to keep my legs straight, but you can always give your knees a slight bend. Just make sure your back is straight with each row.
The TRX is actually better for this movement, because it’s harder to pull off than using a barbell. It’s more difficult to get my shoulders into a solid overhead position. But it pays off, because it provides tension to my shoulders, traps, and scapula, and definitely strengthens their position for holding a balanced and weighted barbell in the same position. Difficult, but doable. And makes you even more prepared for a traditional squat.
This is a standard decline pushup, but having my feet split into separate anchors pushes this workout to an extra challenge. I like this exercise, because it forces me to engage my obliques, my glutes and posterior chain, and of course my shoulders, all working as one connected unit to lower my chest to the floor and raise it up again, keeping my body tight throughout the movement. A very difficult pushup to rep out correctly. But man, the accomplishment you feel when you finish sets of these bad boys is something else.
You’ll find the TRX to be pretty challenging when you first use it. The movements don’t come as naturally, especially if you’re familiar with traditional weightlifting. The reason why it’s so hard is because it engages multiple muscles, and traditional weights tend to activate just one in a single, isolated movement. So when you first use it, you’ll probably be a little wobbly. But if you just keep at it, and you’ll get rewarded.
Because it uses suspension as its key feature, you’re going to get a hell of a core workout, which kicks most of the workouts into a higher gear. But the end result is a lot more core stability and balance, and it’s a benefit I can really value.
The kit comes with a training program and an app that guides you through a whole series of workouts and routines which I also found useful.
All in all, I recommend the TRX Tactical Gym Suspension Trainer. You can hang it up pretty much anywhere, and it offers a level of muscle engagement that really stands to produce results as long as you keep working with it and perfecting the motions.