Adaptive Athlete Rustin Hughes Feels Stronger Than Ever

Posted on Oct 15, 1:00:00 PM

At 45, Rustin Hughes says he’s in the best shape of his life. It’s a bold claim, given Hughes’s background—he’s been competing in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for more than a decade. But Hughes also went through what most athletes would consider the ultimate setback. In 2014, he underwent an above-the-knee amputation due to complications from a blood clot in his femoral artery.

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In the weeks leading up to the surgery, Hughes was already preparing for life without his leg. “I had already been working out with the TRX [Suspension Trainer]. I had been on the TRX quite a bit,” he said. “That was kind of my go-to workout. I was a little bit older than a lot of other fighters, so I had to really take care of my body and get the best kind of work out that I could possibly get. And I realized how beneficial the TRX was.” Hughes, a TRX Trainer, recognized the benefits of Suspension Training would help him as an adaptive athlete, so he began focusing on single-leg exercises before his surgery to improve his stability and balance.

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The TRX Suspension Trainer has been part of Hughes’s strength training routine from the beginning of his MMA days, through his amputation, and even when he was in a wheelchair following surgery. “I was able to do a lot of different things in my wheelchair that I was just like, ‘Wow, I didn't even realize that you could still do the same exercises while still in a wheelchair,’” he said. After the operation, Hughes’s primary objective was getting out of the hospital. “A lot of that was just through my own physical working out on my own, and a lot of it had to do with the TRX,” he said. “I had video of—I think it was two days after my amputation—I'm working out on the TRX. 

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Since that time, Hughes has become a recognized leading in adaptive training, creating and sharing his TRX programs with fellow adaptive athletes through No Barriers and his own non-profit organization, B-Bold.  “I didn't really know how I was going to adapt to all this stuff, but it was just kind of like I was shooting from the hip on every single person,” he admits. “If you're able-bodied or not, you're adapting to something, in a sense. Are we adapting because of a missing leg? Are we adapting just because the person has a tweaked knee? So it's just figuring out how to adapt.” 

Today, with regular TRX training, Hughes says he feels stronger than ever. “I feel like if I would put my able-bodied self in front of me I could kick my able-bodied self's ass if I wanted to. That's how awesome I feel right now.”


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