Ask Men’s Fitness: Does the TRX Actually Work?

TRX
 spyderskidoo / Getty Images

“Does the TRX work as well as free weights?” –Reggie L., Crowley, LA

The TRX and similar suspension trainers haven’t been around as long as free weights, but I suspect they’ll stand the test of time to a similar degree. In addition to being portable and lightweight, suspension trainers make every move you do a core exercise. They challenge the stability of every major joint in the body and oŒffer a limitless number of exercise options.

A study in the Journal of Fitness Research found that both younger and older people (one group was in their 20s, and the other between their mid-40s and mid-60s) who trained with a TRX improved strength and endurance similarly to groups that used free weights and machines over a seven-week period. However, the younger group who performed traditional weight training achieved significantly better gains in lower body strength. 

I think suspension trainers will continue to be embraced as a training tool and will come to be known as a great substitute when free weights aren’t available, but they’ll never replace the iron. The fact remains that when you see a guy with a muscular body, he almost always got it by lifting, not “suspending.”