5 TRX assisted exercises to build a stronger back

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Lower Backpain Workout

  • According to Dr. Stuart McGill, one of the leading experts on spinal health, this is why some people have low back pain and others don’t: “If I were asked to choose the single most influential variable that links back pain and performance enhancement it would be an underperforming core.”

Based on the above quote, the TRX is a perfect tool to improve an underperforming core. The TRX is all core, all the time. And, it’s one of the most versatile tools that you can incorporate into your workouts.

Why? Well outside of the fact that it can be adjusted constantly to vary intensity, there is usually a large core component to each exercise. This means that you’ll get a killer TRX core workout with each and every exercise you choose.  So, why does this help your low back pain?

Treatment of low back pain often starts with the strengthening of the soft tissues (the muscles, tendons, ligaments & fascia) that surround the spine. It’s also important to regain good low back health, so focus on the following: re-learning and addressing faulty movement patterns, building stability (especially in the spine), increasing muscular endurance and strength.

That’s where the TRX comes into play. By altering the 3 principles of TRX training (vector, stability, & pendulum), you can change one exercise into several variations, each with its own effect on how the deep core muscles activate, get stronger and develop endurance. That is the greatest benefit to using the TRX. Just about every exercise that is done activates the core muscles and therefore strengthens the muscles in the lower back either directly or indirectly.

  • What specific exercises using the TRX can we do to help strengthen our bodies and in turn lead to a less probability of suffering from back pain? McGill suggests the following exercises for back rehabilitation that seem to have a great effect:  the TRX bird dog , the TRX curl-up, the TRX Low Row, TRX Assisted Squat, & TRX Glute Bridge.

The Workout

TRX Assisted Squat:

Using the TRX as a support, you are able to teach yourself how to get up and down in a squat pattern. Now this isn’t specifically challenging to your core, but it can teach you to keep your core braced as you move through the squat.

Start off with 1-2 sets of 15 reps, making sure you focus on form throughout the entire exercise, every rep.

TRX Squat

TRX Squat

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TRX Row:

If you’ve ever done a TRX Row before, what does it look like? At the simplest level, it looks exactly like a plank, just a bit angled.

Planks are one of the top core exercises, however when you’re experiencing low back pain, it may be the last thing you want to do. While maintaining a plank position, you want to pull your hands to either side of your chest.

Make sure that you initiate from the upper back and not the shoulders and keep that plank position tight throughout the entire movement. Start off with 1-2 sets of 15 reps.

TRX Low Row

TRX Low Row

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TRX McGill Curl Up:

The number one exercise people run to when they want to work their abs is the crunch and/or sit-up. However, the problem with that is the amount of flexion that results in the low back.

Enter the Curl-up. What this exercise essentially does is maintains your spine in a neutral position relative to the low back while getting the abs to contract, specifically the rectus abdominus.

By using the TRX as part of it, you are able to get significant latissimus dorsi recruitment for greater core stability. Remember this is not a crunch, so the neck and shoulders should not come forward, neutral spine is a must.

A good cue to remember is to keep your chin tucked, imagine giving yourself a double chin. Start off with 1-2 sets of 5-10 unless fatigue hits, in which case stop the exercise.



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TRX Bird Dog: 

Issues arise with the low back most often because the back muscles have either no strength, no endurance or both. The bird dog is a great exercise to train the lumbar extensors without putting any load on them.

Ensure that there is some abdominal contraction going on and think about pushing the leg or arm out instead of up. You want to see a straight line from the foot to the hand. Start with 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps each side.

TRX Bird Dog

TRX Bird Dog

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TRX Glute Bridge: 

Glute strength has a large role in the health of your back. By having strong glutes that function, your back has to do less work to stabilize your body.

If you can stabilize your lumbar spine via your glutes in hip extension it will greatly reduce the work and strain on your lower back and thus reduce pain caused from compensating.

Be sure to engage your core and not simply arch your spine to create the appearance of the exercises position. If you begin to feel your hamstring cramps during this exercise, reset your position and try again, this should not be happening.  Start with 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

TRX Glute Bridge

TRX Glute Bridge

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When you think TRX and core exercises, you might expect to see some cool moves like the Atomic Push-up or Suspended Crunches or Pendulums.

As you can see, when you are trying to recover from low back pain or injury, it’s better to start with basics and earn each progression as you can handle it. After the exercises listed above, you can take a crack at planks and suspended planks before adding movement.

Recovering from back pain takes patience, steady progression, and often times regression. Your first step of action should be to develop stability, endurance and strength throughout the core and extensor muscles, along with mastering typical movement patterns like squatting and hip hinging.

These are just a few beneficial exercises that you should take into account when working with the TRX. Regardless of how or why your back pain has started, doing these exercises will provide a great benefit, especially if you know your core strength is lacking.

Being able to create tension or stiffness through your core will help you progress to the things you want to do, whether its running, or lifting, or just playing with your kids.