Love me some TRXNovember 15, 2010
Good morning!!!!!! Welcome to the coaching files, as promised, this is the long awaited TRX post. Before I give you the scoop on why the TRX is one of the best tools you can have as a triathlete…. let me share something unrelated. A beautiful story about a young man with abilities that will astound you. About a family who has embraced the music of opportunity and the sound of potential…… thanks JM for sharing this!
Okay, wipe your eyes, it’s time for some TRX talk. Sniff. Wow. That was incredible.
In my opinion strength training in triathletes is one of the most overlooked entities of the sport, and one of the most important. Usually this is because triathletes just aren’t sure how to create a strength training program that doesn’t involve hitting shoulders and back on one day, chest and legs on another day…. or however you like to combine it. Three sets of 15, how much weight? Strength training as it relates to endurance sports can be confusing.
There are a thousand ways to train a horse, but you have to figure out the best way for your particular horse, which is you.
Strength training in general will not make you faster. That’s a fact. In triathlon more muscle mass means more weight which means more to carry around. However…… strength training will make you stronger. Which is important when it comes to power on the bike for example, which then in turn will make you faster.
More importantly as we approach or surpass the age of 40 we begin to lose muscle mass. To maintain that muscle mass we recommend weight-bearing exercise, such as…. strength training.
With all that being said, realize this: the human body moves in tandem. Meaning during an activity like running, as pictured in the video below of Mirinda Carfrae, notice how many different muscle groups are being activated….
To make one running stride we use the core, hip flexors, shoulders, quads, gluts, hamstrings etc…. together. Not in singular fashion. Together.
In our daily lives we use the body as it works in tandem. Think about the simple act of removing a dish from the dishwasher…… bend over pick up dish, stand up, put dish away. Back, legs, core, shoulders…. etc.
Because of that… I like to train my athletes with a combination of strength training to address their strength limitations, and alternate it with what I call Functional Strength Training. I was introduced to functional strength training by Chuck Wolf… who I got to meet and listen to at the National Training Center in 2006.
His philosophy was very simple: train the way you live, train the way you need your body to move. By working the body on all of the different planes of movement you are creating a more well rounded healthier athlete. By training functionally you are eliminating the reality of “you are only as strong as your weakest link.” Ever hear a runner tell you they were having a great race and then their lower back began to hurt???
Only as strong as your weakest link.
Enter the TRX, one of the best pieces of training equipment in the industry in my opinion. I have been using the TRX since late 2007 and I don’t leave home without it. Ever.
Put simply, the TRX is a suspension trainer, a system of straps, tabs and buckles that can be mounted anywhere and retails for around $189 depending on the package you buy. It mounts anywhere: we have a ceiling anchor for ours, it comes with a door mount, you can wrap it around a tree branch. When our training athletes I use a goal post at a track. Your bodyweight becomes the resistance. You have 100% control over it.
The TRX was developed by a Navy Seal who needed to get training done out in the field. It utilizes an athletes own body weight and leverage to create resistance and from here you have a unique method of strength training with the addition of allowing it to be functional.
Depending on the exercise you want to do, you simply adjust the straps to the particular height you need and there you go. You have the power to self regulate the difficulty by adjusting things like your angle. for example the chest press. To make this exercise easier she would stand a bit further out from the point of attachment. To make this more difficult, she’d stand closer to the point of attachment.
As her strength increases she can do fun things like elevate her back leg while doing the chest press. The core remains integrated and engaged. Think of swimming, where does the power truly come from? The core. All movement begins from the core, so train the core to become stronger at the same time you are working to improve strength in other areas.
Now once you become proficient at the chest press, stand closer to the point of attachment, left your back leg while you come forward, then begin to progress into one of these cool combos. This is Fraser Quelch, the Director of Training and development for Fitness Anywhere. This man likes coffee, I know he does.
There are tons of these cool combos on you tube. You will have more fun than you ever thought possible with these, and at the same time you get a little endurance work as well.
The TRX also helps with flexibility. Through the fall this is really what I used the Trx most for. After every workout I used this to keep me limber.
This kind of training helps us as triathletes in several ways:
1. It helps us train the way we move. We move at a high rate of speed and force by asking our muscles to work together. It keeps our weakest link strong and helps us to use the core in conjunction with other movements, allowing our propulsion from the core to be more powerful.
2. It helps us maintain our range of motion. Think of running again. Imagine your hamstring becomes tight, it’s then inflamed. You stretch it but you push through it. The inflammation reduces your optimal range of motion causing you to run differently than you normally would. This inflammation + decreased ROM will eventually equal injury. The TRX’s flexibility component can help maintain the range of motion, maintain the flexibility of muscles.
3. It’s portable: I bring this everywhere I go. (Just ask the girls at Weekend at Placid this season You can mount it on a door, on a tree, anywhere.
4. It’s convenient: Mine hangs from the ceiling and is ready to go at all times. I do however have to orient visitors to the batcave what this rope thing hanging from the ceiling is. It’s always ready to go. No set up. No nothing.
5. It’s fun. Watch a few of these cool combo videos, tell me Fraser Quelch is not having fun! I like to create a wall chart to track my progress as I learn to hold things like plank longer, or how I am doing as I progress through the crossing balance lunge to hip hinge.
The TRX is a fun effective way to increase your functional strength. Depending on the athlete I may still cycle them through the weight room to address their strength limitations….. but as we get closer to race season if they have access to a TRX I will keep them flowing through routines right up to their taper. I think it’s a system that works if you understand how to use it.
Feel free to contact one of our USAT coaches for more information on how the TRX can help you as a triathlete, or visit Fitness Anywhere not only to order, but to delve into the depths of how suspension training has helped many elite athletes, as well as age groupers just like us!