While I am not a personal trainer and have no burning desire to become one, I have always been interested in attaining a TRX certification. Additionally, I have been exercising with suspension trainers for a long time and recommend them to anyone who wants to get and stay fit. I completed the “Suspension Training Course: Virtual Edition" in June 2020. The reason for doing the course was to increase my knowledge of the TRX products. Furthermore, I hoped to learn some new training skills from the experts!

TRX certification is attained through the completion of an official TRX education course. The professional education courses apply the principles of the TRX movement-based coaching system. TRX certification courses provide a progressive and systematic approach to learning TRX Foundational Movements.

Virtual editions for many of the TRX education courses became more available during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This offered an opportunity for more people outside of the US main cities to attain TRX certification. 

The TRX Certification Suspension Training course was held over 2 days. It was an intense and enjoyable interactive course. As the course is interactive you will get a lot more out of the course if you access a TRX suspension trainer. I will share my experiences of the course in this post as well as what I learned on the course.

TRX Certification Course Objectives

The purpose of the 7-hour live virtual course is to show you how to effectively teach TRX Suspension Training. The course is for all levels and there are no prerequisites for taking the course. TRX encourages fitness professionals to begin with the TRX Suspension Training Course to build a base knowledge of foundational movements on the TRX Suspension Trainer. Upon completing the virtual course you will be able to:

  • Properly perform, coach, and correct a wide variety of Suspension Training exercises
  • Learn proper set-up and use in any setting, with any level of client
  • Apply the principles of the TRX movement-based coaching system
  • Cue and correct common faults
TRX certification_Become TRX Qualified

You attain your TRX certification on completion of a 50-question, multiple-choice exam that requires an 80% passing rate, with 3 allowed retakes.

TRX Education Journey

The TRX education program is designed as a journey where you learn and practice the TRX Foundational Movement standards. The Suspension Training Course is the beginning of the journey where you learn and master the fundamentals. Mastering the fundamentals then allows you to layer on complexities like other equipment (kettle-bells, heavy rope, etc), environments (Group Training) and modality (high-intensity).

TRX Training Philosophy

The company has a very simple goal: To Make Everyone Move Better. Throughout the TRX Suspension Training course you focus on the “TRX Foundational Movements”. Understanding and performing these fundamental elements can improve your performance in everything you do. To do this TRX has created a four part system to their movement based training.

Find and Focus on the Movement

Defining the movement for any exercise on the suspension trainer requires identifying what parts of the body will be mobile and what needs to be stable.

Find the Level of Progression

There are two factors that determine your progression in any exercise; mobility and strength. It is rare that you find someone that is as strong as they are mobile, there is usually an imbalance. 

Suspension training devices are unique in identifying the imbalance and providing you an opportunity to work on the weaker part. Your goal is to earn the right to move on to a more challenging progression.

Apply the Training Load

Once you have identified the correct level of progression you work on the movement until it is second nature. Regular repetitions of the movement will ensure that in a short period of time it will become intuitive.

Challenge their Goals

Understanding their capabilities will help you intelligently plan further progression to achieve new levels of fitness and duration. It is vital to add the correct amount of intensity and reps to expand the functional capacity.

TRX Suspension Trainer Components

As I mentioned earlier the TRX certification course is interactive so you really need access to one while doing the course. The first part of the course is dedicated to explaining the components of the TRX suspension trainer. 

In this part of the course I gained some valuable insights and tips on the most efficient way to make changes to the strap length. Additionally I learned how to get my size 13’s to sit comfortably in the foot cradles!

TRX Basic Use: The “6-6-3” Rule

Even if you are a regular user of the TRX suspension trainer it can be quite tricky to determine the correct body, strap length adjustments and how to make the correct modifications. The next part of the TRX certification course introduces the “6-6-3” rule.

This rule covers the body positions, procedures and principles of progression. Understanding this rule makes teaching more fluid and helps to provide effective curing and exercise progression in any movement.

Body Positions (6)

The are six body positions: Standing Facing (SF), Stand Facing Away (SFA), Stand Sideways (SSW), Ground Facing (GF), Ground Facing Away (GFA) and Ground Sideways (GSW).

The body positions are related to your position in relation to the suspension trainer anchor point.

TRX certification_body positions
TRX certification_body positions

Procedures (6)

Mastering the six procedures on the TRX Suspension Trainer will contribute to the success
of every workout as they are vital to maintaining exercise flow.

Adjusting Length

TRX has five standardised strap lengths: 

  • Over Shortened (OS)
  • Fully Shortened (FS)
  • Mid Length (ML)
  • Mid Calf (MC)
  • Fully Lengthened (FL)
TRX certification_TRX Procedures

To perform a TRX exercise effectively it is vital that you adjust the strap to the correct length. The instructors on the course demonstrated the most efficient ways to adjust the length. 

To shorten, hold one strap. Depress the cam buckle with one thumb, use your other hand to pull the yellow adjustment tab up along the strap (sort of like a bow and arrow). To lengthen, simultaneously hold both cam buckles and pull down away from the anchor point

TIP: Always make sure the straps are not twisted before adjusting. This will avoid having a twisted strap pull through the D-Ring.

Single Handle Mode

This procedure is used for a lot of the unilateral and rotational movements you can do on the suspension trainer. The instructors demonstrated the best way to set up this mode which involves passing one handle through the triangle shaped webbing of the other handle.

Improperly configuring the TRX Suspension Trainer into single handle mode could result in slippage or even a fall. So be sure you understand the directions and have practised this procedure several times before test loading the TRX Suspension Trainer with your body-weight. Always perform a test-load before beginning exercise.

Heels In

You use this procedure when doing many ground facing exercises. The instructors emphasised the importance of adjusting the strap to mid calf length (approx. 8-12 inches off the ground). Being able to get your heels in and out of the foot cradles ensures a smooth transitions between exercises.

Toes In

I find performing TRX exercises in this position quite frustrating. The instructors demonstrated the easiest way to get in and stay in the position. Place right foot, toes in first into the left cradle. Then cross left foot over right foot and place into the right cradle. Maintain pressure on the foot cradles, roll over onto your hands and knees allowing the feet to rotate inside the cradles.

TRX certification_TRX Toes In

Even Pressure

When you apply even pressure on the suspension trainers foot cradles or handles , you prevent sawing and have better core stability, The straps are not a pulley so avoid sawing motions which can result in damage to the TRX Suspension Anchor. The instructors also stressed that the straps shouldn’t go slack when performing exercises.

Offset Foot Position

Probably the most difficult procedure to master, pay particular attention to foot position when doing exercises with offset foot position. Having your foot in the offset position can be very helpful in keeping your form. By separating your feet you will be able to maintain even tension throughout the full range of motion of the exercise.

Toe In Standing

This procedure is used for a lot of lunge and dynamic exercises. The length strap for all these types or exercises is mid calf.

Principles of Progression

Understanding the ways you can progress and scale TRX Suspension Trainer workout was another valuable aspect of the TRX certification course. The reason that almost anyone can use the suspension trainer regardless of fitness levels is due to the three principles of progression. These principles are simple, easy to adjust and vary greatly, depending on your body position.

Pendulum Principle

Here you are changing your starting position to adjust resistance to make an exercise easier or more difficult to perform. When your suspension trainer hangs down below the anchor point it is in neutral position. You make an exercise easier or harder by moving closer or further away from the anchor point.

Stability Principle

The ability to safely alter your stability is what makes the suspension trainer a unique functional fitness product. You can change your stability by decreasing your body’s points of contact with the ground or changing your feet or hands spacing. The instructors demonstrated multiple options available to reduce your base of support or positioning your free leg.

When you are in a prone or supine position you can increase stability by being farther away from your base of support. So a TRX Plank is more challenging when performed from the hands versus the forearms. Performing plank position exercises from the elbow position is more stable and requires less upper body strength and less core strength.

Vector Principle

The Vector Resistance Principle refers to your body-weight versus your body angle. The higher your body position from the ground, the easier the exercise. The lower your body position to the ground, the more difficult.

When adjusting exercise intensity on the TRX Suspension Trainer, keep in mind the following equation: INTENSITY = RESISTANCE + STABILITY

The “6-6-3” rule is an important element of suspension training as it adds a lot of clarification to the exercises. The instructors committed a significant amount of time and we ran through quite a few scenarios. There was also a test on the setup and anchoring anchoring of the TRX suspension trainer.

Did you know your anchor point should be 7 (2.1) to 9 (2.7) ft(m) high and strong enough to support your full body weight.

TRX Cueing Convention - NAPS-MR

At this stage of the TRX certification course, I was beginning to suffer from information overload. I wasn’t sure how I would remember all the body positions, procedure and principle in practice. 

Fortunately TRX had developed a system for that standardised the way TRX professionals deliver instructions. The goal is for clients to receive a consistent experience when doing any TRX training. This cueing convention uses the acronym NAPS-MR

NAME: Name of the exercise
ADJUSTMENT: TRX adjustment (length, mid length, etc)
POSITION: Position relative to the anchor point (SF, SFA, etc.)
START: Starting posture/body alignment
MOVEMENT: Movement cue from start position to midpoint
RETURN: Return cue from midpoint to end /start position

Example of NAPS-MR

N: TRX Power Pull
A: Mid Length
P: Stand Facing (SF)
S: Start with working hand beside chest, free hand reaches up TRX main strap toward anchor point, drop shoulders down
M: In a circular motion, rotate free arm toward the ground while extending working arm, keep hips square
R: Drive working elbow straight back while rotating free arm up toward anchor point

The cueing convention is very helpful but it does require a bit of practice to get comfortable with the terminology. The instructors used the cues throughout the 2 days of TRX certification course. They stressed that using simple and clear language was the best way to deliver the instructions.

TRX Foundational Movements

The main reason why TRX suspension trainer has become such a popular fitness training device in a relatively short amount of time is it’s versatility. The TRX Training and Coaching system has been developed to distil hundreds of exercises across different modalities down to a simple and effective set of TRX Foundational Movements. Every TRX Foundational Movement is built on standards of what should be stable and what should be mobile.

Understanding TRX foundational movements ensures that movement is the centrepiece of your training program. In the TRX certification course the TRX Foundational Movements are presented in a specific sequence. 

You start with the plank and progress through to the lunge. The reason for the sequential approach is so that you establish a strong competence in key positions and movements. This ensures that the next progressions build upon acquired movement standards. PLANK, PULL and HINGE are the foundations of the system.

Plank

An active plank is one the most effective ways to develop core strength. When your core is strong your movements are efficient and powerful. An additional benefit of planks is that you don’t put any pressure on your back. When you plank correctly, you brace to maintain stability and minimise rotation. This results in you transmitting power and strength to your arms and legs.

The instructors emphasised planks are full body exercises so nothing should be mobile when performing them on the TRX suspension trainer. The standards for the active plank are a neutral spine, level pelvis. To maintain stability ensure that your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all aligned. You endeavour to hold full body tension and controlled diaphragmatic breathing.

There are many TRX suspension trainer plank exercises you can perform. The instructors on the TRX certification course demonstrated the following 2 exercises among others.

NAME: TRX Body Saw
ADJUSTMENT: Mid calf
POSITION: GFA
START: On forearms and knees, stack elbows under shoulders, engage core
MOVEMENT: Lift body to plank position, drive body toward anchor point
RETURN: Keep core engaged, pull body back to start position, lower knees to ground

NAME: TRX Mountain Climbers
ADJUSTMENT
:
Mid calf
POSITION
:
GFA
START
:
Both feet in foot cradles, on forearms/hands with legs straight, active plank
MOVEMENT
:
Keep weight over forearms/hands, lift hips, bring one knee toward chest, keep other leg straight
RETURN
:
Extend leg back, bring opposite knee toward chest in a strong plank position

Push

Pushing and pressing are vital functional movements that assist you in many of your everyday activities. When you are performing TRX push and press exercises you need to resist extension, flexion and rotation. Focus on keeping the torso, hips and lower body stable and aligned. This ensures that the arms and shoulder girdle are driving the movement.

The instructors explained the logical progressions once proficiency has been attained on the TRX Chest press. By changing the conditions you apply the principle of progression: Press with knees on Ground, Press with one leg raised, Press with both knees raised, Press with knee to elbow

Below are 2 TRX Push and Press exercises demonstrated by instructors:

NAME: TRX Push Up
ADJUSTMENT: Mid calf
POSITION: GFA
START: Both feet in foot cradle, engage core, lift body into a hand plank position
MOVEMENT: Lower body down, maintain plank, bend elbows to 90 degrees
RETURN: Drive through palms while squeezing chest, maintain plank

NAME: TRX Atomic Push Up / Atomic Pike
ADJUSTMENT: Mid calf
POSITION: GFA
START: Both feet in foot cradle, engage core, lift body into a hand plank position
MOVEMENT: Maintain plank, lower body down and perform a push up, bending elbows 90 degrees
RETURN: Return to plank position. Atomic Push Up – complete a TRX Crunch. Atomic Pike – drive hips over head, lower slowly back down to plank position

Pull

Improving your pulling form and strength will help you climb, lift and row better. It will also improve your posture during duty-related, recreational and competitive activities.

Form is key to staying injury free when performing pull TRX exercises. The instructors highlighted that full body alignment is required for all pull exercises. Brace your core and keep the torso stable throughout the exercise. Maintaining an active plank but keep your shoulder girdle, shoulders and elbows active.

Tip: Initiating pulling movements with a “scapular-J” or negative shrug will activate the large muscles of the back as prime movers and the smaller muscles of the arms as synergistic, as they should be.

TRX Pull exercises add a lot of variety to traditional upper body exercises. Here are 2 we covered on the TRX certification course:

NAME: TRX Inverted Row
ADJUSTMENT: : Over shortened
POSITION: SF
START: Chest under anchor point, arms extended above body, feet flat, knees bent to 90 degrees
MOVEMENT: Initiate movement pulling shoulders down and back, drive elbows to sides of body pulling torso toward the anchor point, maintain plank
RETURN: Lower body back to start, keeping shoulders down and back

NAME: TRX Biceps Curl
ADJUSTMENT: Mid length
POSITION: SF
START: Elbows bent higher than shoulders with pinkies aligned to temples, walk feet toward anchor point until there is a squeeze in the biceps
MOVEMENT: Lower body down until arms are fully extended, maintain plank
RETURN: Pull body toward anchor point by bringing pinkies to temples, elbows high, eyes on anchor point

Rotate

We didn’t spend much time on this foundational movement on this TRX certification course. This is because many of the exercises are performed with the TRX Rip Trainer and there is a separate course for it.

The instructors did briefly discuss the standards for the rotational exercises. You focus on maintaining stability and generating power through the core using mobility in the ankles, hips, shoulders and thoracic spine. Your torso should be stable moving in a cylinder fashion. They also discussed the following 2 TRX rotate exercises that are performed using the suspension trainer:

Squat

Rightly called the king of lower body strength exercise by one of the instructors! Your ability to perform a deep body-weight squat is a great way to identify constraints and limitations in both mobility and strength before adding external load. Practising and training the squat with careful attention to form and technique will deliver maximal results while minimising risks.

The standards for a good TRX squat are a stable spine and an active plank. To maintain a fluid movement make sure your feet are rooted into the ground. Your ankles, knees and hips will be mobile. The depth of your squat is when the crease of the hips are at or below the top of your knees.

The extra support a suspension trainer provides ensures that anyone, regardless of fitness level can perform a variety of TRX squats. The instructors demonstrated the following 2 among others on the TRX certification course:

NAME: TRX Squat
ADJUSTMENT: Mid length
POSITION: SF
START: Stack elbows under shoulders, feet hip width apart
MOVEMENT: Lower hips down and back, weight in heels
RETURN: Drive through heels, squeeze glutes, lift chest

NAME: TRX Squat Jump
ADJUSTMENT: Mid length
POSITION: SF
START: Stack elbows under shoulders, feet hip width apart
MOVEMENT: 1 Lower hips down and back, weight in heels. Drive through heels, squeeze glutes, lift chest and explode up into a jump
RETURN: Land softly on both feet and lower down for next rep

Lunge

A good lunge will improve your efficiency in any activity where you need to accelerate or decelerate. Performing lunge exercises regularly will also help you recognise any imbalances in mobility and strength.

The instruction received for performing TRX lunge exercises was to focus on maintaining stability. This begins from the ground, through the core, up through the top of the head, to enable mobility in the ankles, knees and hips. You want to ensure that both of your hips control the deceleration and acceleration. Here are some of the lunges exercises covered on the TRX certification course:

Here are 2 of the lunges exercises covered on the TRX certification course.

NAME: TRX Step Back Lunge
ADJUSTMENT: Mid length
POSITION: SF
START: Stack elbows under shoulders, center one leg to anchor point, lift opposite leg to 90 degrees at the knee and hip
MOVEMENT: Drive lifted leg back, touch foot to the ground and lower knee
RETURN: Drive through mid-foot and heel of grounded leg, extend hips, lift chest, eyes forward, return to full standing position, feet parallel

NAME: TRX Crossing Balance Lunge
ADJUSTMENT: Mid length
POSITION: SF
START: Stack elbows under shoulders, center one leg to anchor point, lift opposite leg to 90 degrees at the knee and hip
MOVEMENT: Open hips slightly, lower knee behind working heel
RETURN: Drive through heel of grounded leg, squeeze glutes, extend hips

Client Scenario Worksheet

The final part of the TRX Certification course was an open discussion on how to prepare TRX suspension training workouts for potential clients. The instructors covered 3 scenarios which looked at a clients age, gender and exercise history, There were also details on their physical capability and condition and goals, motivation and mindset.

TRX certification_CLIENT SCENARIO WORKSHEET

We used this information to develop a training program, specifying the focus of the training and workout frequency. The instructors helped us identify the best exercises, what movements should be the focus and how to add bigger challenges. Completing the scenarios was a great way to end the course as it demonstrated the practical application of everything you learn on the TRX certification course.

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