Build Full-Body Strength Without Weights Using This TRX Suspension Trainer Workout

Niko Algieri demonstrates one position of the TRX burpee
(Image credit: Niko Algieri)

A lot of people assume that the only way to build muscle is by lifting weights. Not true, you can build muscle with bodyweight training… up to a point. If you reach that point and are facing the cost of a gym membership or pair of adjustable dumbbells and can’t justify the expense, a suspension trainer like a TRX—one of the most well-known, if not necessarily the best suspension trainer—can dramatically increase the challenge of bodyweight exercises and help you to continue building muscle.

And even if you have access to a well-appointed weights room, it’s worth using a suspension trainer from time to time. Suspension trainers also improve your balance and core strength, because your body must compensate for the instability introduced into each move. 

For a great introduction to the TRX, try this four-move workout created by personal trainer Niko Algieri. “The TRX suspension trainer, for me, is the best training tool on the planet because one piece of equipment can train every muscle in your body, and exercises can be regressed and progressed depending on your fitness and strength level,” says Algieri. “Because one part of your body is constantly suspended on the straps, every movement develops core strength.”

Once you’ve tried the workout, you can discover more with the Coach guides Algieri has contributed to, including the best TRX exercises and an introduction to TRX training.

How To Do This Suspension Trainer Workout

This routine will raise your heart rate while challenging your strength and it only takes around 20 minutes. Complete four to six rounds of the workout, depending on how experienced you are, and switch sides for the unilateral leg exercises every round. Aim for the higher end of the rep range if you’re confident with TRX, or stick to the lower end if you’re a beginner. 

Algieri has also dictated the tempo, or speed, each exercise should be performed at. Our guide to tempo training with weights explains how to read the four-digit number, but in brief: the first number is the time in seconds taken to lower, while the third number is the time in seconds to complete the lift.

1 TRX lunge

Niko Algieri demonstrates two positions of the TRX lunge

(Image credit: Niko Algieri)

Reps 10-15 Tempo 2020

With the straps set to the long length, place the top of your right foot in both cradles. Stand and raise your right knee to hip height and raise your left arm to help you balance. Move your right knee behind you and bend your left knee to 90° to lower, bringing your right arm up to help you balance. Think about traveling down and up rather than forward and backward. Drive through your left foot, bringing your right knee and left arm up to return to standing.

2 TRX chest press

Niko Algieri demonstrates two positions of the TRX chest press

(Image credit: Niko Algieri)

Reps 10-15 Tempo 3030

Keeping the strap length long, hold a handle in each hand and face away from the anchor point.  Extend your arms and lean forward, walking your feet backward to create more resistance if you wish. Keep the straps just over your arms and keep your wrists straight. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes, then bend your elbows to lower your chest to your fists. Extend your arms to return to the start. 

3 TRX row

Niko Algieri demonstrates two positions of the TRX row

(Image credit: Niko Algieri)

Reps 10-15 Tempo 2010

Shorten the straps by pulling the yellow tabs all the way to the top, face the anchor and hold the handles with your palms facing. Lean back,  straighten your arms and walk your feet toward the anchor to create more resistance. Bend your elbows to pull up so your chest goes between your hands, ending with your elbows tight to your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then extend your arms to return to the start. Take one second for the first part of the movement—the lift—and two seconds to lower to the start.

4 TRX burpee

Reps 10-15 Tempo N/A

With the straps set to the long length, place the top of your right foot in both cradles and both hands on the floor in front of your feet. From there, jump your left foot back to get into a high plank position, then lower your chest to the floor. Push up and as you lift your hips, jump your left foot forward. Stand up and jump, driving your right knee through in front of you. Repeat at pace.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.