Welcome to the first part of a three part series on building short circuits. The goal of this series is to provide inspiration to get that workout in (for yourself OR for your clients) whenever you can, because only in a perfect world, we’d all have a couple of hours a day to workout. This might be a possibility if you’re a pro or college athlete but for the rest of us, a busy schedule means you’re trying to cram a quick workout in between work, family time and the 100 other things you have to do in a day . As a result of our hectic lives, we play the “I’m too busy” card to explain why we haven’t exercised recently, and those one or two missed workouts soon turn into bad habits.
So if you can’t magically create more time, is it even worthwhile to do a quick session? Absolutely! The TRX Suspension, Duo and Rip Trainers are the perfect tools for you to get a high quality, intentional workout even when you’ve got to pick up your kids, meet a friend for dinner or get back to that big work project. (And we encourage you to tell your clients all of this).
Now, let’s explore the first step in how you can start to see big improvements from regularly committing to several small workouts a week.
1) Choose Wisely - Exercise Selection
At TRX, one of the best lessons we’ve learned from years spent working with the sharpest minds in the tactical world (aka the military) is how to structure a brief daily workout that helps operators boost strength, power, speed and endurance efficiently, yet allows them to recover and reload enough so they can return to their demanding duties intact. We help strength and conditioning coaches do the same with their athletes, particularly during the competitive season.
One of the keys is exercise selection. While the versatility of Suspension Training means there are an almost unlimited number of ways to sequence movements, our coaches have discovered that the following pairings often work best:
A) Hinge and Push
When performing hinge movements like the kettlebell swing or deadlift that are posterior chain dominant (i.e. work the muscles on the back of your body), we often see people start to round their shoulders. Adding a pushing movement afterwards, like a pushup or overhead pull, corrects this by forcing you to create a stable shoulder and neutral spine and lock out while generating power. This combination also offers the benefit of what we performance geeks call “peripheral heart action,” which is a fancy way of saying that the heart switches from pumping blood mainly to the lower body in the hinge, to the upper body in the push (the same goes for any combination of exercises that requires you to send most of your blood flow from the upper to lower body, or vice versa).
B) Squat and Pull
Another effective way to get a total body workout in a limited amount of time is to combine the squat and pull. When people start to fatigue in a squat as they try to resist flexion, they typically start to round their spine. Doing a pull – like a pullup on the Duo Trainer – after squatting asks you to try and resist extension. It also unloads the spinal compression component of the squat and, just like with the hinge and pull combination, enhances circulation between the lower and upper body. In addition to having cardiovascular benefits, combining exercises that emphasize different body parts can also reset your nervous system, helping you to minimize the usual stress of a high density workout.
C) Lunge and Rotate
When you put a lunge and rotation together, you’re typically performing both movements with a lighter load and higher velocity than you would with some other compound, strength-focused exercises, like the squat or deadlift. During a lunge, you have to resist motion and stop your hips dropping or torso twisting by bracing your core. Following a set of lunges with some rotation, like a Rip Trainer strike or medicine ball twist, introduces a different challenge by emphasizing stability through rotation. You also get the added benefits of working in the transverse plane of motion, in which you move diagonally and across the midline. This is a different stimuli than you get in the up/down, forward/backward (sagittal plane) or side-to-side (frontal plane) movement that lunges require. Another way to mix up your exercise selection is to emphasize your anterior chain with exercises that prioritize the front of your body (like flys and squats) one day and then hit the posterior chain (with pull ups and kettlebell swings, say) the next.
Want to learn more about being an effective Coach? Get started with TRX Professional Education. If you've already crushed the TRX Education Journey and you're ready to dive into exercise selection, sequencing, and programming, check out the TRX Advanced Group Training Course - TRX Advanced Group Training.