Have you ever walked into the gym, seen those weird looking yellow and black straps with handles hanging off of a squat rack or maybe even from the ceiling and thought to yourself, “What the heck are those things?”

    If so, you wouldn’t be the first person.

More and more commercial gyms have them set up and ready for use somewhere in the gym. They probably even have a couple trainers leading workshops on how to use them, which is great.

    However, I also know that new equipment can be kind of intimidating. Many people feel slightly vulnerable in the gym, and the idea of having a personal trainer take you through a crazy workout on this new device that looks like a medieval torture device is less than ideal. Heck you just figured out the settings for the leg press machine!

You catch my drift.

So today I’m going to take you through how to correctly perform the most commonly used exercise variation using those TRX straps, the TRX Rows

    You might not even be one of those people who are nervous about new equipment, and have used the TRX straps a bunch, which is awesome, but I’d bet I can still give you a few quick pointers to make sure you get the most out of the straps.

    Disclaimer: As with any of these exercises, if you are experiencing pain while performing them and your technique is good, please see qualified professional who can help diagnose your pain. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, your personal trainer/strength coach is not that person (me included).

    So without further ado, let’s break it down.

Benefits of the TRX Row:

  • Increased recruitment of core musculature

  • Increase in demand for scapular stability

  • Easily adjustable resistance which can be done on the fly

How to Perform the TRX Row:

    With any exercise you do on the TRX straps, the first thing you want to do is adjust the height of the straps.

For the TRX Row I usually suggest shortening them for most people to optimize range of motion and resistance. I like to set them up so the handle part of the straps is set about belly button height or slightly higher. This is more or less a general recommendation you can play with the strap height to see what height works best for you.

    Once you have the strap height adjusted, you’ll start by grabbing the handles in each hand, and leaning back so the straps are supporting a good majority of your body weight. The closer you position your feet to the place the straps are attached the more resistance you’ll have.

    With your abs braced, your shoulders down (think away from your ears), and your chest up proud, begin the pulling motion by squeezing your shoulders back and down.

    As you continue to pull you should feel yourself gaining a ton of tension in your upper back. Once you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t squeeze your shoulder blades together any tighter, stop.

You do not need to pull your hands all the way to your shoulders. This is a common misconception, but remember the purpose of the exercise is to work the muscles of your back and around your shoulder blades, so once those muscles are fully contracted no extra movement is necessary, and could be damaging.

From the top position, lower yourself back down to the starting position in a controlled manner letting your shoulder blades release that tension and move back to the starting point (protraction). Then repeat.

Controlled doesn’t have to be super slow, unless that’s what your program calls for, it just means don’t come crashing back down.

When done correctly, it should look like this:
How to Incorporate the TRX Row Into My Program:

    The TRX row can be great exercise to work into your fitness program, and can be implemented in a bunch of different ways depending on your fitness level and goals.

    For beginner lifters, I generally use it as a staple of their program. They’ll still do the big basic row patterns like barbell rows and dumbbell rows, but this can be incorporated either into a warm up before they’re heavy sets, or on it’s own to help them learn body control.

For the beginner, we can also easily adjust the resistance they use by simply having them step forward or back.

    For the intermediate to advanced lifters, again it can be used to help warm up the back muscles and shoulders, but often times I’ll incorporate an elevation of the feet so the resistance is greater than they could achieve with their feet on the ground, and if that’s still not enough, we can add additional weight with chains or a weight vest.

    We can also begin to put these rows into some type of either a finisher or circuit for a client, so long as the speed at which they perform these doesn’t equal a breakdown in technique.

    I hope this was helpful for you all.



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