The Evolution of the TRX Suspension Training System and Why It’s Become a Gym Staple

Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot to the TRX exercise tool. Just a strap. A few attachments. And really, to get the legendary body of a Navy SEAL, it’s all you need.


TRX evolved on the go, made by the SEALs themselves. The Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams (SEALs) are one of the most utilized special operations teams in the military, a position that tests the absolute limits of physical strength and endurance. But, and dangerously so, SEALs rarely have a fully-equipped gym in the field to keep themselves in top form. Crammed into safe-houses and submarines for days or even weeks at a time, staying in prime physical condition for which the job demands becomes a serious matter. Weakness can kill, but aside from their gear and their own bodies, there isn’t much to work with.


So that’s what they work with. Fitness Anywhere founder (and former SEAL) Randy Hetrick, along with his squad, put their heads together during deployment and hand-stitched a few lengths of parachute webbing together with boat repair tools to create a training harness. Attached to a tree or sturdy pole, the soldiers used it and their own body weight, using principles of balance and counterbalance, to create a rigorous head-to-toe workout regimen – and the TRX was born.


Combining the ideas of balance, counterbalance and using the body’s weight against itself isn’t new – just ask a yoga enthusiast. The TRX is part of a larger group of workouts called “suspension training” that forego the usual free weights and machines for multi-planar, compound bodyweight-based exercises aimed at increasing core and joint strength, balance, flexibility and stability all at once. It may literally look like you are hanging from the straps, but the TRX stimulates muscles synergistically; that is, unlike a machine that isolates a particular maneuver (a chest press, the isolateral row), the TRX hits both the primary muscle group – the one you are “working out” – and also the secondary groups that do much of the stabilizing for the move.


The TRX pulls off the slick trick of working out every muscle involved whatever exercise you are doing, which can end up being most of your body. Major gym chains such as Crunch now offer classes for a SEAL-type workout.



Keep in mind, however, that soldiers already in top physical form invented the TRX. If you are a beginner,  or your core – the muscles involved in stabilizing your body (abs, obliques, and lower back) – is not already strengthened, be warned: Any sort of suspension training, with the TRX or otherwise, can lead to serious injury. Fitness Anywhere even brought in trainers to educate them on how to properly use the TRX. All newbies, and even a few experts, should have supervision before beginning a new workout regimen, whatever the techniques involved.


But just remember: For all the promise of a Navy SEAL body, you must have Navy SEAL dedication. So put that donut down. NOW.