Runners should be incorporating some form of resistance training into their workout routines. Not only will it strengthen the relevant running muscles, but it can help to avoid muscle imbalances that could lead to injury.
If you’re averse to the idea of lifting weights, investing in a TRX suspension system could be the best idea!
Here’s why we highly recommend this system, as well as 10 easy and effective exercises that will help to improve your running.
What is TRX?
The TRX suspension trainer, also known as Total Resistance Exercises trainer, was invented by former Navy Seal Randy Hetrick while he was deployed.
He developed the TRX out of a need to maintain his fitness levels in a limited space and with limited time to train.
This unique suspension system uses your own body weight and gravity to develop muscular strength and endurance.
Using the fundamental movements of push, pull, rotation, squat, lunge, hinge, and plank, Randy was able to create a total body workout routine using just this piece of equipment.
Even better, you can make your workout more or less challenging simply by changing the position of your body.
The specialized system weighs about 2 pounds (1 kg) and has heavy-duty adjustable straps. An anchor strap lets you attach the system to a variety of anchor points, so you can train just about anywhere and it doesn’t require a lot of space to be used.
Whether you’re on vacation or on a business trip, you won’t have to worry about missing a workout. When it’s packed in its bag, it’s smaller than a pair of shoes!
Benefits of the TRX Suspension System
Suitable for All Fitness Levels
We runners sometimes forget to include strength training in our exercise routines. The good news is that whether you’ve done resistance training before or you’re completely new to it, the TRX can work for you.
If you’re a beginner, you can get an excellent workout on the TRX by standing almost upright as you’re using it. When you need more of a challenge, simply lower yourself a few degrees. The closer you are to being parallel to the ground, the harder the workout!
Improves Strength & Endurance
Using the TRX for strength training will help improve your muscular strength throughout your body, develop better core stability, and increase your endurance and coordination.
The more muscle you build, the better your running performance! You’ll be able to push off harder and your muscles don’t fatigue as quickly.
The TRX also does a great job of improving stability. Because you’re pushing against gravity and your own body weight, you’ll need to activate your core to stabilize yourself while doing the exercises.
The TRX can help improve mobility in the hips and ankles. This is thanks to the ability to move in multiple planes of motion (which we’ll discuss below), and the ease with which the TRX can be used with the feet instead of the hands.
Because it’s also a stable, anchored piece of equipment, it can provide stability for movement that allows you to stretch the hip flexors.
Improves Range of Movement
There are three planes of movement that the human body goes through on a daily basis – front-to-back movement, side-to-side movement, and twisting movements. Each of these works different muscles, making daily tasks like bending over, reaching, and turning around easy.
When running, you’re pretty much always in the front-to-back movement plane. If running is the only exercise you do, you may be neglecting the other muscles! While day-to-day movements work them a little, it doesn’t quite cut it.
This can lead to muscle imbalances which can have a negative impact on your running. When certain muscles lag behind (even if they aren’t used much in running) the other muscles (those that are compensating) can become fatigued more quickly.
Low-Impact & Safe
The TRX is low-impact and safer than free weights. There’s no need to worry about dropping a weight on your toe or damaging your joints!
You can use it anywhere, any time. It also fits easily into a bag and weighs just 2 pounds. It’s the ideal exercise solution for those who travel a lot or have limited space!
Although the TRX is an excellent workout for anybody, runners will find that there are some specific benefits to including TRX workouts in their exercise routines.
Here are 10 TRX exercises that would be excellent for runners to develop strength and endurance.
1. TRX Hamstring Curl
This exercise is great for activating the posterior chain, with the hamstrings being the primary muscles involved. Your core is the secondary muscle group.
Adjust the TRX straps so that they’re mid-calf length. Lie on your back with your feet towards the anchor point. Extend your legs in front of you and place your heels in the material foot cradles positioned just below the handles.
Keep your weight evenly distributed on your heels. Engage your hamstrings, glutes, and core as you raise your hips and lower back off the floor.
Then bend your knees, bringing your heels towards your pelvis until your knees are positioned above your hips.
Keeping your hips and lower back off the floor, maintain a tight core as you extend your legs in a controlled manner back to the starting position.
It’s important to maintain good form by keeping your upper back flat on the floor with your arms by your side.
As you lift your hips, focus on squeezing your hamstrings and glutes while pulling your navel in towards your spine. This will prevent you from using your lower back muscles.
Repeat this movement for 8 to 10 reps in a set, for 3 to 4 sets.
2. TRX Hamstring Runner
This exercise helps to correct muscle imbalances in the posterior chain. The main muscles worked are the glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
You’ll also work your back extensors and core, which will help you to control rotational movement. By controlling rotation when you run, your running performance will be improved as you have more power.
Begin with the straps at mid-calf length. Lie on your back with your feet directly under the anchor point. Place your heels in the foot cradles and make sure that you distribute your weight evenly across them.
Flex your glutes, pull your navel towards your spine, and lift your hips off of the floor, with both legs extended in front of you. Keeping the tension on the straps, drag your right heel towards your pelvis while keeping your left leg straight.
Once you’ve pulled your leg in as far as it can go, return it to the starting position. This is one rep. Repeat this movement with your left leg, while keeping your right leg straight.
The best way to think of this exercise is that you’re doing reverse mountain climbers.
Repeat it movement for 8 to 10 reps per set, and for 3 to 4 sets in total.
3. TRX Squat to Row
This exercise targets the quads, back, and core. It not only helps to develop strength, but also works on the ankle, hip, and shoulder mobility.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the handles with your palms facing inwards. Bring each hand next to your chest, with your elbows bent and positioned slightly behind your body. You may have to bring your feet in closer to the anchor point so that you can lean back at a 45-degree angle.
Once you’re leaning back, squat down, extending your arms and engaging your core (pulling your navel towards your spine). Make sure to keep your back in a straight line with your chest upright, and don’t hang in the shoulders.
Squat down as far as you can while remaining comfortable in the position. When you come up from the squat, you’ll incorporate a row movement.
When you stand up from the squat, you’ll drive through your heels while squeezing your glutes. At the same time, you’ll row your body upwards by pulling your elbows downwards and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
You should end in a position with your thumbs on your chest, just as you began the movement. This full movement counts as one rep.
Repeat for 8 to 10 reps per set and for 3 to 4 sets altogether.
4. Forward Lunge with Hip Flexor Stretch
Runners often experience tight hip flexors. This exercise will help with hip mobility and stretch the hip flexors, which should improve your stride length and improve your running times.
Stand facing away from the anchor point. Hold the handles at shoulder height with your arms extended in front of you (keep the tension on the straps) and your feet shoulder-width apart.
Start with your right leg. Take a large step forward while raising your arms to make a Y shape. Keep your back leg straight while squeezing your glute. From this position, slowly lower your left arm to the floor, keeping your right hand in the air.
Your right knee will be bent with your right arm extended above your head. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, maintaining the tension on the straps, before returning to the starting position.
Then alternate the legs and repeat the movement. Once you’ve done each leg, it counts as one rep.
Repeat for 8 to 10 reps, 3 to 4 sets.
5. TRX Squat Jump
This exercise works more than one muscle group. The primary muscles worked are the glutes and quads, with the shoulders and core getting a bit of a workout too.
The explosive nature of the exercise causes the leg muscles to contract faster, which will lead to an increase in leg power. This can supercharge your running performance!
Stand facing the anchor point. Hold the handles with your palms facing inwards and your elbows slightly bent and tight to the body.
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and push your glutes down, lowering into a squat position, keeping your weight in the heels. Make sure to keep your back straight and your knees at a 90-degree angle.
Once you’re in the bottom of the squat position, drive through your heels and push off the ground into a jump, as high as you can.
Push down on the TRX straps as your feet leave the ground. This will help you to jump higher! Land as softly as you can on your feet and repeat the motion from the starting position for 8 to 10 reps per set.
6. Crossing Balance Lunge
This exercise works each leg independently. Your core should also be constantly engaged throughout the movement.
It’s an excellent exercise as it forces the stabilizing muscles to work harder as you try and keep your balance! This improves stability, balance, and overall strength.
Face the anchor point, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a step back so that there’s no slack in the straps and keep your elbows bent and touching your ribcage.
Start with your right leg. Move it backwards and to the left, so that the right knee passes behind and past the left ankle. Your left leg should be performing a squat motion, making sure not to allow the knee to move forward past the foot.
As you do this movement, extend your arms so you can use the TX for balance, and gently touch your right knee on the floor, like doing a curtsey!
To come back to the starting point, push through your left foot to stand back up. To complete the movement, drive your right knee upwards towards the sky while squeezing your left glute.
Alternate legs and repeat the movement for 8 to 10 reps per set, for 3 to 4 sets in total.
The TRX plank targets the core as the primary muscle group, but you’ll also feel it in the shoulders, triceps, lower back, glutes, and hip flexors.
Adjust the straps so they’re at mid-calf length (6 to 12 inches off the floor) and face away from the anchor point.
Place your toes into the foot cradle with the soles of your feet facing upwards. Walk yourself forwards on your hands, away from the anchor point, until your body is fully extended as if you’re going to do a push-up.
Keep your elbows below your shoulders and your back in a straight line. Engage your core by pulling your navel inwards, towards your spine.
Depress your shoulder blades, as if trying to clench a coin between them. Make sure that you don’t round your back or drop your hips while doing this movement!
Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds (or for as long as you can). Then, simply lower yourself to the ground so that you lie on your stomach between each rep. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps, 3 to 4 sets.
8. Torso Rotation
This exercise will help runners to prevent excessive trunk rotation during running. The primary muscles engaged are the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques.
It also targets stabilizing muscles like the rhomboids, deltoids, glutes, abductors, adductors, and quads.
It’s a good idea to attach the handles to each other so you have just one strap. Grasp the handle with both hands, in front of you with your arms extended. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
Turning on the balls of your feet (without lifting them), move your hands to the left, away from the anchor point, rotating your entire body to follow your hands. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds before rotating your body back to the neutral middle position.
Then, do the same on the other side. Keep your spine straight and your arms fully extended as you go through the movement.
9. Prone Abduction on Hands
This exercise features movement in all planes of motion and strengthens the adductors, abductors, and core. Developing these muscles will reduce the risk of injury, stabilize the outward rotation of the knee, support your pelvis, and improve your balance and mobility.
Adjust the TRX straps to mid-calf length and get into a plank position. Then, move your feet outwards to form a V shape, about hip-width apart. Hold it for 5 to 10 seconds before bringing your feet back to the center.
Make sure to keep your back straight with your knees and ankles all in alignment. Keep your elbows below your shoulders and pull your navel towards your spine to engage your core throughout the exercise.
Repeat for 8 to 10 reps, for 3 to 4 sets.
10. Single Arm Row
This exercise will help develop strength and correct muscle imbalances, which will improve your running performance.
It works on one arm at a time, and engages the lats as the main muscle, and the trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids, and biceps as secondary muscles.
Attach the straps to one another so you have a single strap to work with. Hold it in the right hand and position yourself so that your elbow is bent and the handle is slightly in front of your ribs.
The shoulder blades should be retracted, pinched together like you’re trying to grasp something between them.
You can place your left hand on your hip or lay it across your chest or stomach, whatever feels best to you. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart for stability.
Extend your right arm, lowering yourself backwards slowly until your arm is fully extended.
Make sure to keep your back straight and don’t rotate as you lower yourself! Keep those muscles engaged to prevent rotation of the core.
Then, engage the back muscles (the lats, if you can) to pull yourself back up to the starting position.
Alternate arms, doing 8 to 10 reps per arm per set. Do 3 to 4 sets in total.