Monday, December 28, 2009

P90X with TRX?

In the Comments section, JoHsu asked:
I've been considering the TRX suspension trainer a great deal after you mentioned it on your blog (people should start paying you commission), but I as wondering if it could be integrated well with the P90x workouts. I'm going to be hopping around the country alot in the next six months, and I wanted to come up with a better (and more affordable) solution than buying/shipping weights and a pull up bar everywhere I went. As a P90xer who owns a TRX system, do you think that I could do all the exercises in P90x with just the TRX trainer?
I have a set of SelectTech adjustable dumbbells at home, and I've cut down on business travel over the past year, so until now, I'd never considered whether it was feasible to perform all the exercises in P90X using only the TRX Suspension Trainer. But with JoHsu's question on my mind, I was intent on trying to incorporate the TRX into today's workout (Chest, Shoulders & Triceps) as much as possible -- just to see how many of the exercises translated easily into TRX moves.

Let me start by once again extolling the virtues of the TRX Suspension Trainer. It's an incredibly versatile fitness tool for multi-planar training, and one of my favorite pieces of equipment in our little home gym. Even more so than the Bosu Balance Trainer, the TRX Suspension Trainer is fantastic at adding instability to resistance exercises, thereby improving balance and strengthening muscles I didn't even know I had. There's a broad range of exercises you can do with the TRX -- a number of which are even more punishing than those seen in P90X. You can find ways to target every single part of your body with TRX.

But if you're intent on doing P90X moves, the TRX Suspension Trainer probably isn't your best bet. While it's great for enhancing your P90X workout by introducing a balance and stability challenge to many of the moves demonstrated by Tony Horton, and although you can use it to make some of the push-up variations even more crazy-difficult, the TRX doesn't offer an easy substitute for a number of the exercises in P90X.

Here are the moves I did in Chest, Shoulders & Triceps this morning, separated into two lists: Those that I could (relatively easily) use the TRX Suspension Trainer to perform, and those that I couldn't:

Doable on TRX:
  • Slow-Motion 3-in-1 Push-Ups (it's simple enough to vary the speed of a standard TRX push-up)
  • Chair Dips (you can do a set of TRX Tricep Presses instead)
  • Plange Push-Ups (it's not easy to do these on TRX -- especially if you have wrist issues -- but it's doable)
  • Pike Presses (I found it tough to maintain my balance while doing these on TRX, particularly with my feet on a bench or chair -- but it's still easier than doing them like this)
  • Floor Flies (very challenging on TRX)
  • Two-Twitch Speed Push-Ups (not too bad, but much more challenging than doing them on the floor)
  • Lying Triceps Extensions (again, you can do a set of TRX Triceps Presses instead)
Not Really Doable on TRX:
  • In & Out Shoulder Flies
  • Side Tri-Rises
  • Scarecrows
  • Overhead Triceps Extensions (though I suppose you could do even more TRX Triceps Presses)
  • Y-Presses
  • Side-to-Side Push-Ups
  • Pour Flies
  • Side-Leaning Triceps Extensions
  • One-Arm Push-Ups
  • Weighted Circles
  • Throw the Bombs
  • Plyo Push-Ups
  • Slow-Mo Throws
  • Front-to-Back Triceps Extensions
  • One-Arm Balance Push-Ups
  • Fly-Row-Presses
  • Dumbbell Cross-Body Blows
At least with Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, the number of TRX-ready P90X moves is dwarfed by the number of those that aren't particularly susceptible to TRX treatment. I'm sure that TRX substitutes for all the P90X moves do exist, and that with some work, you can find them online, but for simplicity's sake, my recommendation is to stick with weights or resistance bands for P90X, and to use the TRX to supplement -- not supplant -- your P90X equipment.