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.