Our New Year’s Eve celebrations may have looked a lot different this year (thanks, COVID-19), but if there’s something completely within our control, it’s our resolutions—it’s always within our power to take on a new hobby, spend more time with a good book, or commit to moving more. My 2021 resolution? Challenge my idea of what fitness looks like by using a TRX® Suspension Trainer™ for my workouts, and Vital Performance™ PRE for an energy boost (to combat the quarantine fatigue, of course).
I had used TRX in the past, but it wasn’t until I started working for the company in October 2020 that I became more familiar with everything that can be done on just two straps. As an intensely active person, I’ve always worked out with weights, and in classes like bootcamp and pilates, so I wasn’t convinced I could stay strong enough for everything I love to do with TRX alone. So, when Vital Proteins® approached us with an opportunity to test out their pre-workout mix, I decided now was the perfect time to put that fuel and all my TRX doubts to the test.
MYTH #1: I NEED WEIGHTS TO GET STRONG
There’s this idea that bodyweight training is only for those new to fitness. Trust me—there’s always a bodyweight exercise that challenges your muscles as effectively as a weighted exercise. It all comes down to playing around with reps, tempo, and the angle, and guess what—TRX makes those angles immediately accessible, immediately making your bodyweight more challenging. It also makes pull moves accessible when before they weren’t—for instance, rows and bicep curls aren’t exactly easy to perform with your bodyweight alone. I was always surprised how sore I’d get from doing bicep curls on the TRX compared to using dumbbells.
MYTH 2: I CAN JUST PRE-FUEL WITH A SNACK
Training can be draining, and sometimes a banana just doesn’t cut it—especially when you’re trying something new, like say, learning how to do crazy atomic push ups on a TRX. BCAAs have become more popular in recent years, otherwise known as branched-chain amino acids, typically found in protein-rich foods like chicken, for playing a role in decreasing muscle soreness, increasing muscle growth, and reducing post-exercise fatigue. Vital Performance PRE boasts not only the three BCAAs (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine:), it’s laden with collagen peptides for tendon and ligament help; Creatine Nitrate and elevATP® for strength and power; plus caffeine for a pre-workout energy boost. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a tasty watermelon blueberry flavor.
I was getting so sore in my TRX workouts I’d like to think drinking this beforehand took the edge off. One thing I did notice—despite having multiple injuries over the past year and being generally not as in-shape as I normally am, I felt like I had just as much endurance as before—when clearly that wasn’t the case. I’m going to chalk it up to drinking this religiously before every workout. Take that, banana.
MYTH 3: THERE’S TOO MUCH OF A LEARNING CURVE
I’m not alone in this—when looking at the straps many people think, that looks too simple to work. I quickly learned that one of the best things about the TRX Suspension Trainer is how easy it is to set up. I’d either loop it behind my door or around a tree branch in my yard. And voila, a few seconds and now I can perform hundreds of moves that would previously require me to a) have a gym membership, or b) have multiple pieces of equipment. The setup was so easy there was no excuse not to do it.
The biggest learning curve was learning how to do certain moves and getting my feet in the straps when in planks. But, considering there’s a learning curve to whenever you’re new to anything (crow pose, anyone?), it only took me a couple workouts to get the hang of it. By the third workout, I was transitioning smoothly from overhead squats to chest presses to bicep curls with a few fancy twirls and strap adjustments. Which is probably the next-best thing about TRX—you can flow from one move to the next, like in Pilates or Yoga (which you can also do with TRX, imagine that). You definitely can’t do that with weights and machines.
MYTH 4: THERE’S NO WAY I CAN GET ENOUGH VARIETY
Part of what keeps me motivated is variety. From mountain biking to pilates to bootcamp, I crave moving my body in different ways. Lately, variety for me has meant a change in scenery, which is something TRX is great for—there have been plenty of times where I’ve popped it into a backpack, walked up a local hill and worked out in the sunshine. Nothing beats that.
But, what was more surprising was how easily I could take my standard arsenal of moves—bulgarian split squats, plank pikes, hamstring sliders, glute bridges, copenhagen planks, pullups, pushups—and do them all easily on the TRX. Don’t mistake me when I say “easily”—if anything, most of these moves were significantly harder on the TRX than when doing them at the gym. Try doing a Copenhagen on an unstable strap and then talk to me.
HOW DID I FEEL IN THE END?
Honestly, I’m surprised. After three weeks—which is enough time to lose strength and cardio endurance—I wouldn’t say I’ve gained muscle or strength, but I certainly didn’t lose any strength and more importantly, I didn’t lose interest. The ease of use, the variety, and the kick-in-the-pants supplementation from Vital Proteins was all the motivation I needed to stick to a fitness routine that’s been made harder due to pandemic life and injury recovery. The biggest takeaway—I can use TRX for cardio and strength training to maintain and even improve my fitness. And considering how small, portable and minimalist it is—that’s huge.