The TRX Complex

This isn’t at all like the ‘Crossfit Complex’, I promise. TRX may be a cult in some ways, but at least it’s mostly safe. Sure, you can strain a muscle doing just about anything – bending down to pick something up, aggressively brushing your teeth – but you don’t have to worry about throwing your entire posterior chain out because you kipped a little too hard on your 32nd set of half-kipping pull-ups.

Crossfit hate…check. Maybe I should have written an article about my dislike for Crossfit.

But that’s an article for another day. Today, it’s all about TRX. If you’ve been living under a rock, in the woods, or happen to be the guy tending to the International Space Station, you might not know what TRX is. I’ll be as succinct as possible: it’s a pair of rather expensive black and yellow suspension straps that attaches to nearly anything (NOT trees that visibly bend, doors that a customer might open, or curtain rods) and provides an on-the-go method of total body resistance training. Whew.

But I’m not here to talk about the history and philosophy of TRX. I just want to share a cool way to get the most out of it. If you’ve ever heard of a barbell complex, you’re probably starting to sweat. You may even be glancing around nervously in all directions. Don’t worry. Forget I even mentioned barbell and just focus on complex. Basically, a complex features a string of exercises performed back-to-back with no rest. Like a circuit, right? At its core, that’s exactly what it is. Unfortunately for you, a complex takes that concept one step further.

Most complexes use a barbell for a reason, and that leads me to the key difference between a circuit and a complex – during a complex, you never set the implement down. Be it a barbell, dumbbells, or in this case, the TRX. The TRX complex offers the same benefits of a barbell complex without being quite as difficult. We’ll call it an intro to the barbell complex.

Now, how do you structure a complex? With a barbell, you’d choose 3-6 exercises that seamlessly (or close to it) transition into the next. Here’s an example:

A1) Romanian Deadlift

A2) Bent Row

A3) Front Squat

A4) Push Press

Notice the flow between exercises – other than a quick hang clean to transition from A2 to A3, you’re already in position for the following exercise. That’s what makes complexes so brutal. You can create a TRX complex in the exact same manner, but you have much more leeway. The only real consideration for exercise selection is strap length. Your best bet? Either short or mid, facing the anchor point.

Complex 1

A1) Chest Fly

A2) Hug

A3) Hug

A4) Swimmer’s Pull

Complex 2

A1) Curl

A2) Chop

A3) Chop

A4) Clutch

You’ll notice both of these examples include only upper body exercises. You can set up a few jumping complexes for the lower body…

A1) Squat Jump

A2) Lunge Jump

A3) Single Leg Squat Jump

…but you’ll likely run out of exercises much faster. But hey – experiment. The neat thing about the TRX is the ability to constantly create new movements.

As far as reps are concerned, that’s entirely up to you. Typically, you’ll want to stay in the 6-8 range, but there’s no right answer. I’m not a big fan of talking rep and set ranges because your own individual training will be the biggest determinant of that.

That’s the TRX complex in a nutshell. Cliff notes:

Easier than a barbell complex

3-6 exercises

Upper is easier to structure, but lower can be done

Whatever rep range makes you happy

Fuck Crossfit ((just kidding)or am I??))

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