Strength Performance Network recently caught up with Chris Frankel, TRX Director of Human Performance at the 2010 NSCA National Conference in Orlando, Florida. In the video, Chris provides a great example of how to break down a standard movement (here, the TRX Chest Press) and challenge various muscle groups simply by making a few modifications to your foot position.
This is what we call the Stability Principle™, which involves the relationship between your center of gravity (COG) and your base of support. Short definition: Stability is maximized with a large base of support and the COG positioned in the middle of the base. As the base of support decreases or the COG moves outside the base of support, stability decreases.
Chris illustrates the Stability Principle™ by having the athlete first perform a TRX Chest Press in an offset stance. If you're new to exercise or working with an individual who is deconditioned or unstable, this should be the starting position. Using an offset stance during the TRX Chest Press puts the emphasis on the lower body exercise. If you change your mental approach to the movement, you can make this an upper body exercise that puts more emphasis on your chest, shoulders and arms.
To increase resistance with more stability, bring the forward foot back into a wide stance. This is the second progression. The body angle is in a deeper position, and a wide stance provides good stability while engaging the core further.
To decrease stability at the same body angle (resistance), bring the feet close together for the third progression. Now the COG rests on a smaller base of support, and active core control is required to maintain stability.
The last progression is a single-leg stance, which reduces support and is appropriate for more advanced users. Many people find the movement easier to perform on one foot or another. It’s important to note these discrepancies and work to correct them. For all of the progressions, experiment with foot placement until you find the optimal range of movement and resistance level.
By using Stability Principle and a four-step progression as outlined above, Chris shows us how you can take what is typically just a chest exercise and turn it into a core and hip exercise, with an additional focus on resisting rotation. You can apply this approach to any Suspension Training bodyweight exercise.
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As the resident TRX Professor, Chris Frankel draws from over 25 years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach. He earned an MS in Exercise Physiology from the University of New Mexico, where he is currently completing his doctorate in Exercise Science. Before taking the position of Director of Programming at Fitness Anywhere, Chris was an instructor in the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of New Mexico.