I’m friends with several dentists, and they all tell me the same thing — they have incredible tension in their chest and shoulders (especially front delt and trapezius). Spending a lot of time with these muscles in a tensed, closed position while working on patients will do that!
Here, I take local dentist Dr. Gina Higgins through three stretches specifically to help target this tightness. Even if you’re not a dentist, you’ll love these! Many of us have a tightness in the same areas from general stress or even sitting at a desk all day.
This week’s TRX Tuesday: Properly adjusting the straps*. It may seem a bit silly to have a how-to video for this, but I see people struggling to take the straps up or down and just yanking on them until the buckle gives on a near-daily basis. TRX straps are very hardy, but this sort of improper adjustment (especially with heavy daily use) causes a lot of friction, which contributes to the fraying and undue wear & tear on the strap. And once they are very frayed, they become even harder to adjust!
In a nutshell: the TRX straps have two pull tabs and two cambuckles. To lower the straps (I prefer to do both at the same time to keep them even), you should first “loosen” the buckles by holding them around the sides and pulling them halfway down (the buckle will be roughly horizontal, parallel to the floor). Keep them in this loosened position, THEN pull straight down. Smooth and easy!
To raise the straps (which you have to do one at a time), you will similarly loosen one buckle, then grab your pull tab and lift straight up. I often see people just grab the tab and pull as hard as they can without loosening tthe buckle — yes, you will eventually raise the strap but it’s much harder and has added a tremendous amount of unnecessary friction to the strap. Loosen those buckles first, and you’ll be able to make your workouts more efficient (save time adjusting straps in between moves) along with sparing our popular straps an untimely retirement!
So… What about strap length? Why do we raise/lower the straps? There are reasons we teach certain moves at certain strap lengths, but that’s a different video for another day!
*I should note that this applies to the more recent version of the black & yellow (or pink) TRX suspension trainers. There are older versions that have buckles you push before lowering/raising, and the TRX tactical straps (camo/green) have buckles that you have to pull all the way down to adjust, not just halfway.
And this week’s #TRXTuesday focuses on the plank — a really simple-seeming but often poorly executed move. For a #TRX plank, your strap will be mid-calf length and you’ll be on the ground, facing away from your anchor point.
Toes are in the cradles for this move, with the straps even (how you get your toes in is up to you — I should do a future TRX Tuesday demo on the different ways you can get your toes in the cradles). You’ll be on your knees and either your wrists or forearms — how you hold your plank is up to you, though the elbow plank is generally considered a little easier. I prefer planking on my wrists due to elbow issues.
Quick reminder — watch your feet here to make sure you’re not ‘pulling’ the strap toward you or ‘pushing’ it away past the anchor point. For a regular ol’ plank, try to keep your feet neutral right under the anchor. Once you get good at these you can start playing with foot position a bit (known as the pendulum principle in TRX language).
Cues to use: as you lift up into a full plank, start squeezing. Everything! Squeeze your glutes. Try squeezing inner thighs together. Tighten your quads. Focus on tension in your mid-section (belly button to spine, but DON’T suck in your breath). PUSH the floor away from you. If you can flex your feet (toes toward shins) without your shoes slipping through the cradles, try it (for fun, try pointing your toes, then flexing your toes — you’ll probably notice a marked difference in how tight you can hold the rest of your lower body when the toes are flexed). Seriously, squeeze and hold this plank and make it as absolutely perfect and tight as you can.
AVOID: Hips sagging. HUGE no-no, you’ll hurt your back. Don’t let the shoulders collapse. Keep your chin away from the chest — there is often a tendency to ‘drop’ the head here, but that breaks the perfect plank at the cervical spine. Don’t forget to breathe here.
Rather than holding one single plank for a long time, try these the TRX way: sets of four 10-second planks with just a 3-5 second break in between. That’s right: only 40 total seconds of planking, but you are focused on doing them PERFECTLY for those 10-second rounds.
Your #TRXTuesday this week: the #TRX chest press. Straps are fully lengthened & you’ll be standing up, facing away from your anchor point.
This move resembles a push-up. Hands on the handles, palms down, just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your hands more down by your chest and less up by your shoulders — your elbows will not be pointing directly out 90 degrees from your body, but more like 45 degrees or so back and down. This takes stress off the shoulders & prevents impingement, while keeping the work more where we want it — pecs (& triceps & anterior delt). Your range of motion (ROM) will also be greater.
Once your hand are in a push-up position with elbows bent & tension on the strap, come up on the balls of your feet and hit a strong plank. This is a major CORE exercise as well! Keep your elbows in that push-up position (we call it ‘setting your end point’) and start walking your feet back to the anchor. You’ll feel your muscles heat up with tension. When the tension feels like it’s enough, stop your feet and work the press. Push yourself up & lower the whole body down with control.
Cues to use: Maintain the plank (no sagging or flexing at the hips). Staying on the balls of the feet will help this. Squeeze your glutes. Keep your chin away from your chest. Make sure the straps aren’t “scraping” your arms. Watch and make sure the hands don’t drift too far in front of you, or too wide. A little shaking in the upper body is normal, but if you’re shaking too much, take a step away from the anchor & reset.
Try these for 45 seconds, or a nice slow set of 10. If you’ve added on enough of your bodyweight, you’ll feel it!
I used to do #TRXTuesday features all the time. So a few weeks ago I decided to bring it back w/ a little change — audio cueing. I figured it would be good practice for my presentation skills (and editing skills), both of which are useful for my daytime & extracurricular jobs. So — welcome to the revamped TRX Tuesday, where I’ll take you through a #TRX move in one minute or less!
First, this week: TRX Step Back & Balance Lunges. Strap should be mid-length, and you’ll be standing up facing your anchor point.
For the step-back lunge (great option for TRX newbies or those with lower joint issues): Start with feet under the hips, elbows under the shoulders, neutral grip. Pick your base leg (right leg shown here), shift your weight to it, and then step back w/ the opposite leg, lowering down into a full lunge with the back toe on the floor.
Cues to use: tall posture, use the straps to help keep your chest up (avoiding a large hinge in the hips). Knees should both be roughly 90 degrees. Arms should be fairly extended. Drive through the front foot as you stand up, bringing the opposite knee up if you can (otherwise, tap foot to floor).
To make this a balance lunge, just keep your back toe OFF the floor when you step back into the lunge. Instant advanced mod! Watch your hip hinge if you do these — people tend to immediately drop their chest toward the floor in an effort to stay balanced, but you want to keep the same tall posture, same degree of bend in the knees, & same arm extension up top (no “hugging” your arms in close — avoid a death grip on the handles).
I like sets of 8 or 30 seconds per leg for these. Give ’em a try & remember that ***form is everything***!