The TRX 40/40 Challenge combines two signature TRX exercises we use to measure upper body and core strength: the TRX Atomic Push-up and the TRX Low Row. At our events, we have competitions to see who can get the most of each of these exercises. If someone can get more than 40 good reps, there's a good chance they are going to win! Also, we've been known to break out the 40/40 Challenge during our lunchtime workouts here at TRX HQ (see below).
Getting to the TRX 40/40 Level
Once you have accepted the TRX 40/40 Challenge and done your first max effort test to see where you stand, it is time to work toward getting to that next level, whether it is 10/10 or 40/40. You can test your max effort about once every 10 to 14 days. Doing max efforts too often can lead to burn out. Here are a few proven ways to increase your max reps quickly.
“Grease the Groove”
Pavel Tsatsouline, the Kettlebell master, coined the phrase as it is used for exercise and training today. Greasing the Groove is achieved by “practicing” lower repetition sets, about half the number of reps capable of, with longer recovery periods. As you train for a specific exercise test, keep in mind that performing these moves requires “practice,” not just training. Training means working to fatigue and sometimes to failure. Practice means perfecting the skill of the movement, using strict form without going to fatigue. As you fatigue, your form breaks down. Stop your “practice” reps before you fatigue. One strategy is to drop in several “practice” sets over the course of the day as you walk by your TRX.
Another “practice” strategy to use is descending sets with longer rest periods. Your first set should be between 50% and 70% of your 40/40 score; reduce reps by two or more on successive sets. If you are able to complete 20 TRX Atomic Push-ups and 20 TRX Low Rows, a descending set workout may look like this:
TRX Atomic Push-ups
TRX Low Rows
Rest for one to two minutes between sets as needed.
There is not a magic rep number. The goal is to accumulate as many high quality reps as you can with strict form and avoiding fatigue with lower reps and enough rest. Use the “Grease the Groove” or “Descending Set” approach two to three times per week.
One problem with only using TRX Atomic Push-ups and TRX Low Rows is you tend to train your strengths and overlook your weaknesses and compensations. Here are some supplemental exercises to enhance movement and strength for the TRX 40/40 Challenge.
Increase Your Core Strength
TRX Plank and TRX Side Plank Your ability to hold a solid, stable TRX Plank and TRX Side Plank is crucial for success in the 40/40 Challenge. Make sure your alignment is spot on; ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all be in a line. For training, try this approach: instead of holding your planks for 30, 45 or 60 seconds or more, perform reps of shorter duration. There is good research supporting the idea of holding a strong, tight plank for seven to 10 seconds at a time. Drop down for a two to three second rest and then back up to the plank. As your fitness improves, add more reps, not more seconds.
TRX Body Saw The TRX Body Saw will strengthen your core and shoulders for better rowing and push-ups. You can try the same strategy you used for the TRX Plank. Perform 10 seconds of the TRX Body Saw, rest briefly and repeat another 10 seconds. As your fitness improves, add more reps.
Rock Your Rowing Ability
TRX Swimmer Pull This is a great exercise to strengthen lats specifically and the pulling movement in general. Using the TRX Swimmer Pull as part of a compound set with the TRX Low Row will get at those back muscles! Do a set of TRX Swimmer Pull followed by a set of TRX Low Rows.
TRX Y Deltoid Fly and TRX I Deltoid Fly Use the TRX Y and I Deltoid Flys to improve mobility and strengthen your upper back and shoulders. This will lead to a more powerful pulling movement. Alternate the TRX Y Deltoid Fly with the TRX I Deltoid Fly.
TRX Hip Press What? How can the TRX Hip Press help with rows? When you are performing TRX Low Rows, you rely on your hips to keep your body aligned and extended. Use the TRX Hip Press as an assistant exercise to strengthen your hips and core.
Make Your Push-ups More "Atomic"
TRX Standing Roll Out and TRX Chest Press Alternate repetitions of TRX Standing Roll Outs with TRX Chest Presses and integrate core activation into your pressing patterns. As your strength and stability improves, progress to single leg versions of the TRX Standing Roll Out and TRX Chest Press and deeper angles.
TRX Atomic Push-ups (Single Leg) Just like it sounds, place one foot in both foot cradles and perform your TRX Atomic Push-ups. Pressing as you resist the rotational forces of having one leg suspended is a great challenge to your core.
Here is an example training routine using the exercise outlined above to supplement your training one or two days a week. Training here means working to fatigue and even to failure. Perform this workout on different days than your "practice" days. Be sure to modify exercise intensity and reps to your fitness level and goals. For variety, you can the order of exercises, starting from the bottom and working your way up every third workout.