The TRX is one of those pieces of equipment in the gym which I find is underutilized. Speaking to people in the gym every day, I believe that the main reason for this is a lack of knowledge on how to use it. There are endless ways that you can use the TRX suspension trainer in your workouts. Today, I’m sharing some of the best TRX chest exercises you can do as part of an effective upper body workout.
I try to include at least one TRX exercise in all of my clients’ programs, especially beginners. Not only does this allow them to get used to using the TRX but it is also a great piece of equipment to raise awareness of body positioning.
Next time you’re in the gym, try the TRX chest exercises below to add variety to your workout.
[Elly: Note that the TRX is very lightweight and portable. Therefore, it also makes a great addition to your home exercise equipment, or “anywhere” workout toolbox].
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What is the TRX?
The TRX is a form of suspension training that uses your body weight as resistance. TRX stands for “Total Resistance Exercise” and was originally developed by former U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick using a jiu-jitsu belt and some parachute webbing.
Now, it is a well-known piece of fitness equipment present in almost every commercial gym. Many people are also choosing to purchase one to use for their “anywhere” workouts and home workout plans.
Look out for its recognizable black and yellow colours. It will be attached to an anchor point overhead, or up high on a wall. You’ll often find them suspended from a metal frame which can also be used to perform pull-ups and dips.
The range of exercises that you can perform with the TRX makes it a very versatile piece of kit. Having the two straps moving freely adds instability which forces your muscles to work harder.
Personally, I find that it lends itself better to training some body parts than others. However, you can have a good total body workout using just this one piece of equipment.
It is worth noting that you have more than one muscle in your chest. The muscles of the chest area contain four muscles. There are the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, and subclavius.
All of these muscles are involved with moving and stabilizing the arm and surrounding joints. However, the biggest of these muscles and the one most involved with moving the arm in a forward pushing motion is the pectoralis major.
This is also the one most obvious and visible. You can find out more about the in-depth anatomy of the chest muscles over at teachmeanatomy.info.
Training your chest from different angles via your TRX chest exercises workout
The best way to train your chest and target the whole muscle group is to use multiple angles. This places the emphasis on different muscle fibers depending on the angle of your body, relative to the direction of the resistance.
When performing chest presses or flies with your arms elevated, or at an incline position, this moves the workload up and targets the upper chest. Moving your arms down, or at a decline angle, moves the resistance down and targets the lower muscle fibres.
The TRX chest exercises in this article incorporate all three angles. Whether you want to get a bigger chest, a stronger upper body, or you need some new resistance-based exercises for your weight loss program, I’ve got you sorted. The exercises in this post are going to offer you some great options you can use for your chest training upper body workout.
Looking for a dumbbell workout? I also have a full-body workout that you can complete using only a set of dumbbells. Check it out here.
TRX Chest Exercises Workout
1. TRX Chest exercises for beginners | chest press
By positioning the handles of the TRX higher you will create more of an angle between you and the floor. This pushes the workload more towards the lower muscle fibers of your pec muscles.
Out of the exercises listed here, this is the best TRX chest exercise for beginners because the extra angle also makes the move easier. You are decreasing the gravitational pull by positioning your body more upright.
Adjust the handles of the TRX so that they are at a minimum of knee height. The higher the handles, the easier the move and the more you are shifting the workload towards the lower muscle fibers in your chest.
Hold a handle in each hand and move your feet back until your body is in a straight line and your arms are perpendicular to the floor. On this occasion, this means that your straightened arms are closer to your body rather than being straight out in front. This will be your starting position.
Now take a breath in and lower yourself under control until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint. At this point, push through the handles while exhaling and return yourself to your starting position. This will be one repetition.
[Elly: With all of these TRX chest exercises, aim to keep your head in line with your spine, and your abdominal muscles activated throughout the movement].
2. TRX Chest Press for Intermediate and Advanced Levels
This one is very similar to the traditional push-up or press-up which almost everyone will be familiar with. The difference here is that you will perform this traditional move with your hands on the TRX handles.
[Elly: It’s also essentially a more advanced version of the beginner’s chest press described above].
This exercise provides much more instability than a floor-based push-up and forces your body to work much harder. With each press, you are also having to stabilize the straps to keep them in the correct position throughout. This recruits more muscles and works far more of the smaller stabilizing muscles around your joints than a push-up on a stable surface does.
Start by adjusting the TRX so that the handles & loops are just off the floor. Take a handle in each hand, straighten your arms perpendicular to the floor and position your feet so that your body is in a straight line. Your shoulders should be directly over your hands so that your hands are shoulder width apart. This is your starting position.
Slowly lower yourself by bending your elbows. Ensure that you do not flare your elbows out to the side. Rather, keep a 45-degree angle from the side of your body. Once you reach a point where your elbows are at a 90-degree angle or right angle, reverse the movement by pushing through the handles.
Once you have pushed yourself back to the starting position, this will be one full repetition of the move completed.
3. TRX Feet Suspended Incline Press
This is an intermediate TRX chest exercise that involves using the feet loops on the TRX straps. With your feet above the ground, this exercise places more work on the upper part of your chest. It also adds more core work as you will need to stabilize your body and stop your feet swaying as you perform the move.
Adjust the TRX so that the feet loops are about one foot off the ground. Place your feet in the loops. You may need your workout partner to help you here as it can be tricky to get your feet in the right place.
Once your feet are in place, straighten your body and place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands on the floor. This will be your starting position. Take a deep breath and lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows and extending your shoulder.
Keep your elbows at approximately a 45-degree angle to your body. In other words, don’t allow your elbows to flare out to the side. Once your chest reaches a couple of inches off the floor, push yourself back up to the starting position whilst exhaling.
If you want to make this move more challenging and shift the workload higher up your chest, you can position the feet loops higher off the ground.
[Elly: Note that you should be able to complete a set of full push-ups with your feet on a raised, solid surface (such as a small step) before you will be ready to progress to this exercise].
4. TRX Chest Fly
The TRX fly requires the most strength and is the most advanced on this list. This is because you are isolating the chest muscles by keeping your arms straight. With the pressing exercises, you are receiving assistance from your triceps to straighten your elbow. This won’t be the case here. To make this more challenging, keep the TRX handles as close to the floor as possible.
[Elly: Note that you can do more of a beginners’ version of this isolated chest exercise by raising the TRX handles much higher so that your body is closer towards an upright position].
Adjust the TRX straps to the desired height. For your first attempt, I recommend around waist height.
Take hold of a handle in each hand and position your feet behind you so that your body is in a straight line. Your arms should be straight and pointing directly towards the floor. At this angle, your arms will be slightly closer to your body than straight out in front. This will be your starting position.
You are now going to lower yourself towards the floor by horizontally extending your shoulder joint with your elbows locked. You should lock your elbow with a very small bend at the joint. This means with almost straight arms.
Continue to lower yourself until your arms are in line with each other in one big straight line. You will look like you are pretending to fly. Return to the starting position by reversing the move. Horizontally flex your shoulders all the way back until your arms are side by side and parallel. That is one repetition.
For your breathing, breathe in on the descent and then breathe out as you lift yourself back to the starting position.
Ready for some more trx exercises?
A balanced workout plan always includes both chest, and back exercises, whether those are in the same, or different workouts. Check out these effective TRX back exercises for some great TRX training for your back muscles.
We’d love to hear about how you get on with the TRX chest exercises in this post. Feel free to join the conversation, and leave a comment below!
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