When trainer Jeff Handler started traveling with 2003 PGA Masters Champion Mike Weir on the grueling 11 month long PGA Tour, he kept seeing trainers working with Tour players using the TRX. “The first thing I thought was, 'Why the hell didn't I come up with this?' It's the best piece of fitness equipment I've ever come across,” says Handler.
Two and a half years ago, Handler began to integrate the TRX into training programs for Weir and other clients who range from pro athletes like NHL players Tom Poti and Adam Oates to everyday trainees of all ages (including youth athletes and senior citizens) and ability levels looking to improve fitness and sports performance.
A former college baseball player who won a collegiate World Series title, Handler has a degree in exercise science, a CSCS certification and 20 years of experience in training and human performance. Currently, he operates out of the Fitness 500 training facility in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and is the proprietor of SPORT-Rx athletic performance systems and INBOXtrainer. He's found the TRX to be a highly effective tool that’s ideally suited to meeting the specific demands of training Weir on the Tour from both a practical and programming standpoint.
“The TRX is incredibly portable. You put it in a duffel bag, and it’s so compact you don't even know it's there. You can set it up in a hotel room, on a beach, in the woods, anywhere. That's a huge benefit. The TRX can be a stand-alone piece of equipment you can use to totally condition a client. It can give you cardio work, mobility work, balance work, strength work, stability work. But it's also completely integrate-able, and you can use it as an adjunct to a great strength and conditioning program using other modalities.”
But other, more unique benefits of training Weir on the TRX have turned Handler into a TRX evangelist. “Every exercise you perform on the TRX produces a proprioceptive stimulus you don't get with other modalities, even free weights. The movements are very un-reproducible.
The TRX gives you something free weights don't give you, and the ability to change resistance in the middle of sets is amazing. When you use the TRX, you also have the ability to control movements.”
In this regard, the TRX has helped Handler evolve the golf training he programs for Weir. “In golf, we used to think throwing a heavy med ball as far and fast as you can would help improve rotating force. But if you can control force, you create a much more powerful ballistic movement. You just can't reproduce the angles and changes in force vectors using other modalities that you can with the TRX. On the TRX, if the trainee can't control movement, he gets immediate feedback that he can feel and that his trainer can see.”
Handler's experience using the TRX with Weir during the protracted PGA Tour season has also led him to develop an entirely new approach to designing training programs. “In traditional training models, we throw all the aspects of strength and conditioning into every week of training. Mobility, flexibility, strength, power, balance and cardio conditioning are all in the mix every week.” Handler has developed a new system he uses with Weir that he calls a "block" approach that focuses on one element of the fitness equation at a time.
For example, Handler starts Weir's PGA Tour season with a three week block focused on just mobility work. “I've got seven TRX mobility exercises just for golf and other progressions for other sports. I’ll have Mike do just mobility exercises for the first three weeks of his Tour training.” At the end of the mobility block, “I have Mike do three weeks of just stability work and then three weeks of just balance work and so on. There's strength and power sprinkled in, but it's not everything all at once.” Handler has found this to be a very effective approach for training Weir. “It works fantastic, especially for Mike, who has an 11 month season. If he’s on the golf course for eight or nine hours, the last thing he needs is to pound weights for an hour and a half.”
Handler has also developed a TRX core assessment test and has made the TRX a cornerstone of his programming for all clients. “I use the TRX with absolutely every client no matter who they are, pro, amateur, my nine-year-old son. I'm a huge proponent of the product,” he says. “It's limitless.”
For more information on training golfers, check out the Titleist TRX Golf Workout DVD/Download. How has working with trainees using the TRX transformed your approach to training? How has the TRX helped to make you a better trainer and helped your clients get better results?
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