You can easily access numerous studies on the topics if you are looking for an answer on optimising athletic or physical performance. However, much of that research uses traditional lifts such as Bench Press, Squat, or powerlifting. This can be frustrating for those of us who enjoy and are curious about a more progressive, non-traditional style of training.
More people are starting to do research with alternative pieces of equipment to see if the claims they make are correct. Enter TRX and research that specifically uses the TRX Suspension Trainer. A research paper titled “Examining muscle activation for Hang Clean and three different TRX Power Exercises” (I know, catchy title, suitable?), performed by Andres Carbonnier and Ninni Martinson at the Biomedicine Athletic Training department of Halmstad University, was published on May 12th 2012. It discusses how the TRX Suspension Trainer can gain a similar (and sometimes more significant) amount of muscle activation as a traditional ‘Power’ lift, the Hang Clean.
Three Powerful TRX Exercises
The three TRX exercises that were tested were:
- TRX Squat Jump
- TRX Front Squat
- TRX Power Pull
Similar muscle activation was found between the TRX Squat Jump and Front Squat to the Hang Clean. The Power Pull “showed the highest activation for the Erector Spinae and Gluteus Maximus but the lowest when comparing total muscle activation for all measured muscles”.
The conclusion stated, “the TRX Suspension Trainer can be used as a compliment for experienced athletes or a substitution for novice athletes to traditional strength training.”
What stands out to me is this: we can have similar muscle activation (depending on what you want to ‘fire’, maybe more) to heavy lifting without placing a heavy external load on the body. I think that might be a good option concerning injury prevention and for more inexperienced athletes, wouldn’t you?
This link is an excellent summation of another research article that looks at (again) muscle activation when using the TRX Suspension Trainer. This time Push-ups, Shoulder Protraction and Bench Press vs TRX Push-up, TRX Chest Press and a TRX Scapular push-up. The results confirm that this tool is potent, depending on your goal. TRX gave better core muscle activation. But for sheer Pec activation, the Bench Press outdid everything. So if you want massive Pecs, guess what you need to do? But if you wish your Pecs to work with the rest of your body.