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What is TRX suspension training ... and are the fitness benefits worth it?

Liz Connor explains everything you need to know about total body resistance exercise

Like metcon and AMRAP, TRX is just one of those fitness terms that sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is. Lots of gyms across the UK now offer suspension classes, but many of us shy away from trying it, for fear that it will involve complicated moves, herculean strength or a good deal of pain the next day.

The truth is everyone can do TRX and if you're looking to build a lean, mean and athletic machine, it's one of the best methods out there for full-body strength.

What is TRX?

Ever noticed pairs of black and yellow straps hanging from the ceiling of your gym? That's TRX. It stands for 'Total Body Resistance Exercise', and it's basically a suspension-based exercise system that uses gravity and your own bodyweight to make exercise more challenging - rather than weights and machines.

The method was created by Navy Seal commander Randy Hetrick, who needed a way to keep his troops in shape, no matter where they were stationed. The heavy-duty stirrups/handles are slipped onto either the feet or hands, and the user must use their core-stabilisers to complete a set of exercises while staying balanced.

Pretty much any basic exercise - like a plank or a push-up - can be made more difficult by incorporating the TRX bands. This means you can get a fairly intense workout in a short amount of time.

What are the fitness benefits?

Even though you're just using two basic suspension straps, there's an infinite number of different moves you can do. When used in the correct way, it's a total body workout that delivers a rock-solid core, increases strength, improves posture, boosts flexibility and builds on your endurance.

You can also make it as difficult as you want; simply adjusting your body position can add or decrease resistance on each move. This makes it a great option for everyone, from total fitness newcomers to elite athletes.

Where can I do it?

Lots of gyms now have TRX suspension ropes and some even have dedicated classes. If you don't want to fork out on a membership though, you can purchase your own and set them up anywhere, such as in the home or outside in the garden.

The beauty of the TRX is in it's simplicity. The straps are portable and can be attached to any sturdy vertical anchoring spot, such as a pole, beam or tree branch. Afterwards, they can be folded away and thrown into a gym bag, making it a perfect companion for fitness buffs who travel a lot.

If you're not sure where to start, the TRX Fit Suspension Trainer (£99, Argos.co.uk) comes with a basic workout DVD, which offers a demo of some of the core exercises, such as chest presses, rows and knee tucks. Once you've got to grips with the basics, you can start adding in some more challenging moves - and of course, there are lots of different follow-along workouts on YouTube to try.

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