In 1997, Randy Hetrick created his first version of the TRX out of a Jiu-Jitsu belt and parachute webbing. Even when bullets were whizzing past his ears, he wanted to stay in tip-top shape. Now TRX training is a worldwide phenomenon that’s common in gyms and homes everywhere and not just the battlefield. The benefits of performing TRX exercises range from the stay-at-home mum to even the competitive powerlifter.
The biggest knock on the TRX is after a certain point it will not get your any stronger because you’re only using bodyweight, gravity, and leverage.
But the TRX’s biggest advantage is it can improve hip mobility, core stability, upper back strength, and mobility which are all handy for crushing your back squat. Here we will go into what’s needed for a barbell squat and three TRX exercises for a stronger squat.
What’s Needed For Good Squat Technique
This is a separate article in itself, but when it comes to the barbell squat, there are three non-negotiables. They are
- Your spine staying in neutral throughout the entire movement. Core stability and hip mobility are paramount here.
- Your feet stay planted on the ground. Having good ankle mobility helps.
- The barbell stays in a vertical line over your midfoot. Shoulder and upper back strength and mobility help make this happen.
The TRX helps with one and three. Using the below TRX exercises will strengthen your weakness, strengthen your strengths for better back squat technique, injury reduction, and for crushing PRs. Let’s dive in.
3 TRX EXERCISES FOR A STRONGER SQUAT
Note: One of the advantages of the TRX is you can increase or decrease the intensity by adjusting the foot position closer or farther away from the anchor point. Carefully judge your own intensity.
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TRX SPLIT SQUAT
Most split squat variations will improve your barbell back squat by strengthening imbalance between sides, improving leg drive, and hip mobility. But TRX split squat takes split squats to another level. This exercise requires high levels of stabilization, or you and the floor will meet. This improves your balance, technique, and results in more time under tension for better strength/hypertrophy gains. Once you feel comfortable with this move, add weight for further gains.
Muscles Trained: Quads, glutes, adductors, and calves.
How it Helps The Barbell Squat: Reduces strength imbalances between sides for improved leg drive out of the hole.
How and When To Do It: Adjust the TRX straps so your back foot is at least a foot off the ground. Put one foot in the straps and get into your split squat position. Get a neutral spine by keeping your chest up. Then bend your back knee, drop your front leg into a squat while keeping a slight forward lean of the torso. Perform three to four sets of 8 to 15 reps per side as an accessory move after your big strength move for the day.
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TRX UNILATERAL KNEELING ROLLOUT
TRX kneeling rollout exercise is like the stability ball rollout or the ab roller exercise. They all train anti-spinal extension which is necessary for keeping a neutral lower back while squatting But the TRX unilateral kneeling rollout takes away the stability of training with two hands and trains anti-rotation too, making this an advanced rollout variation.
Muscles Trained: Glutes, rectus abdominals, and obliques.
How it Helps The Barbell Squat: The tall kneeling position improves hip mobility. Strengthening anti-extension and rotation will improve your ability to keep your spine neutral under a heavy load.
How and When To Do It:Get into a strong tall kneeling position with your toes off the ground. With the straps interlocked and a few inches off the floor bring the strap over your shoulder and place one hand in the handle with your arm straight. Fall forward while raising your arm, squeezing your glutes, and avoid extending your low back or rotating to one side. Stop when you “feel” you’ve gone far enough. Then return to the starting position and repeat. Performing for 6 to 8 reps on both sides before you squat works well.
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TRX Y Flye
Weren’t expecting a leg exercise to make its way into a squat-strength improvement piece, were you? Not many tools train the upper back like the TRX does, and the TRX Y is a great upper-back exercise for improving your squat. The TRX Y strengthens the muscles surrounding the shoulder particularly the upper traps and rhomboids. These muscles are important for keeping a neutral spine and help prevent your squat from turning into a good morning too.
Muscles Trained: Upper traps and rhomboids
How it Helps The Barbell Squat:A strong and muscular upper back keeps your spine in neutral when properly engaged and provides the barbell with a place to sit with no pad required.
How and When To Do It: Hold the TRX with both hands and adjust your foot position for required intensity. With your arms straight, shoulder down and chest up, pull your arms in a Y position overhead, be careful not to shrug your upper traps. Pause for a second and slowly lower down to the starting position. Reset your chest and shoulder position and repeat. This is a great warmup exercise for 8-15 reps before you squat or can be paired with barbell squat as a recovery/mobility also.