We work on bodybuilding, flexibility, cardio…
“It seems like it’s new, but it’s not at all”explains Cédric Lehance, graduate in physiotherapy and physical education at the University of Liège, leader and coordinator of the “Citizens on the move for my health” project (www.chuliege.be/jcms). “This already existed in Antiquity. And at the beginning of the 20th century, we know that judokas tied kimono belts to make straps and work. This was brought up to date in the United States in 2005 by a former Navy Seal commando who created his own system of adjustable straps using parachute strings. Since then, thanks in particular to social networks, it has become very widespread…”
When and why to use it? We will first talk about a fun sporting practice, mainly encompassing cardio, flexibility and muscular work. “Injury prevention, revalidation and physical preparation can be emphasized”adds our interlocutor regarding the multiple interests. “There is postural work present with the permanent search for balance. We can stimulate all the muscle groups without any problem, with different intensities. In addition, the use is very easy. I still recommend a few sessions with a specialist to fully understand the philosophy of this work in weightlessness, while noting exercises to do. For these, there are a lot of tutorials on the internet. By watching these videos, you will find ideas for movements to try. You you’ll see, it’s incredibly varied. In fact, the only limit will be your creativity.”
Compared to traditional tools, like the machines found in fitness rooms, we are really working here in a more global, more functional way. “It’s easier and more varied too, insists Cédric Lehance. We go for cardio if we want, we can stretch… I repeat, the field of use is really very wide…”
Usable anywhere, anytime
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of working with straps is its practical, easy and space-saving side. Are you going on a trip? You take them with you without any problem. In a house, or even in a hotel, it will be very easy for you to work with them after having “propped” them with a door for example. And outside, a tree or a swing will do the trick without any problem.
“It really is a very functional tool, which can be used by everyone, from 7 to 77 years old, summarizes Cédric Lehance. Children can therefore practice without risk. For older people, it is also very rich in terms of neuro-motor coordination. Everything can be worked on. But you shouldn’t build the house before the foundations and want to go too quickly. For maximum efficiency and any risk of injury linked to a bad movement to be avoided, you must understand the gesture and its benefit, and understand the movements well. You will see, it is an inexpensive tool – you can find one from 20 euros in sports stores – light, transportable and usable everywhere.”
Six easy exercises to do at home
From the moment you have purchased a strap (several brands exist, knowing that TRX is undoubtedly the best known since we often take these three letters as the generic name for the practice), use at home is very easy. Either you have an anchor point to one of your ceilings, or you wedge it into a door frame. You are now ready for a series of exercises, to start calmly or after warming up on an indoor bike, for example.
Here are six explained by Fanny Buckinx, instructor in the Kineo rooms of Barchon and Heusy (also a doctor in Public Health, Epidemiology and Health Economics – thesis completed at the University of Liège). Various positions and various muscle groups are used. Make sure you understand the starting posture and the movement to do. Do not hesitate to browse the internet to view tutorials. Go at your own pace, paying particular attention to the quality of your repetitions, rather than the quantity. “When I teach, I alternate 45 seconds of movements with the strap, then 30 seconds of cardio (running with knee raises, running steps, small jumps on the spot, etc.)”, specifies our specialist.
1Pull up or rower
“Stand facing the TRX attachment point, arms straight and body aligned. Bend your arms and raise your body while maintaining alignment, with the palms of your hands facing each other, explains Fanny Buckinx. The latissimus dorsi is well used here, as are the biceps and shoulders.” What makes this exercise very interesting, according to Fanny, is its impact on the stabilizing muscles of the trunk, thus helping to strengthen the overall strength of the body.
2Push-up or pumping
“Stand on tiptoes, facing the ground, arms outstretched and body aligned. You go down slowly, bending your elbows until your upper body reaches the level of your hands. Then you come back up. Be careful to keep the body straight, do not arch your back. This exercise effectively targets the muscles of the upper body, mainly the pectorals, especially during the ascending phase. The stabilizing muscles of the trunk are also engaged.”
3Side plank or side plank
“Adjust the height of the TRX straps so that they are approximately 30 to 60 cm from the ground. You place your feet in the handles with the foot of the top leg in front of the other. Lift your hip off the ground so that you “have more than your hand or forearm on the ground. The body should form a straight line from head to toe. Hold the position for the desired length of time and then do the same on the other side.” The exercise places particular emphasis on the abdominals (obliques) and also strengthens the core, shoulder and leg muscles.
4Mountain Climber or climber
“Place the TRX straps approximately 15-30 cm from the ground. Place each foot in one of the TRX loops in a plank position, with your hands under the shoulders. Keeping the trunk stable, bend one knee and bring it back towards your chest. The other leg remains straight. Keep breathing evenly throughout the exercise.” According to our specialist, this exercise uses several muscle groups, with particular emphasis on the abdominals. “It’s a comprehensive exercise to work on strength, stability and endurance simultaneously.”
5Hip thrust or bridge
“Adjust the TRX straps so they are about 12 inches off the ground. Lie on your back with your heels placed in the TRX handles. Bend your knees to about a 90-degree angle. Push through your feet and raise the hips towards the ceiling by contracting the glutes until the thighs and trunk are aligned. Then return to the initial position, controlling the descent” describes Fanny before adding: “the posterior chain, especially the glutes, ischios and lumbar muscles, will mainly be worked.”
6Squat jump or jump squat
“Stand facing the anchor point, shoulder-width apart. Grasp the handles with your arms extended in front of you. Bend your knees while pushing your buttocks back (squat). Keep your back straight, knees in line with your toes, and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Jump with straight knees and return to the squat position, cushioning the landing to avoid excessive impact. This is a plyometric exercise that stimulates the cardiovascular system and mainly strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. “