Progressing the TRX FORCE Program
The TRX FORCE Kit training protocol has been designed specifically with the demands of today's tactical operators in mind. When you reach the end of the 12 week TRX FORCE program training cycle, you may well have attained the highest level of operational readiness you've ever experienced. Congratulations. But now it's time to take your operational readiness even higher with these tips from Dr. Joe Martin (“Doc Joe”), FAI’s Director of Military Education. In part 1 of this series, Doc Joe explained how critical 360 degree, multi-planar fitness is for today's tactical operators who often find themselves in harm's way, under extreme duress while in theater.
Cultivating peak operational readiness is an ongoing, never-ending process. Upon completion of the TRX FORCE Kit training protocol, the first step in progressing your tactical fitness is to go back to the first week of the program. Except this time, you'll be making a number of simple alterations and tweaks to the program that capitalize on the TRX's unique design and underlying principles that will make the Suspension Training movements even more challenging and effective.
“Becoming a better tactical athlete isn't always about just getting stronger,” says Doc Joe. “Conditioning means using less-than-maximal repetitions all the time in order to decrease the strain on muscles, joints and ligaments, so that you can become a better operator. Once you've progressed to the pinnacle with the TRX FORCE Kit training program, it's time to excel to the next level using these modifications to the basic program.”
Increase Stability Challenge
“One of the problems we see with service members getting injured in theater is a lack of core stability. Staple sagittal plane movements like push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups can be good exercises, but they don't train core stability. When a service member loaded with a ruck has to rotate, bend over and grab an injured buddy and drag him out of harm's way, that requires tremendous core stability.”
To develop greater core stability during your second run through the TRX FORCE program, increase the stability challenge of movements on the TRX by:
- Standing with your feet closer together on standing movements like the TRX Row or placing your hands closer together on ground-based suspended movements like the TRX Pike.
- Performing any bilateral movement as a unilateral movement. That is, any time you would normally have two feet on the ground or in the straps or two hands in the straps, instead stand on one leg, put just one leg in the straps, or use just one arm.
For example, instead of performing a TRX High Biceps Curls, convert the TRX to single handle mode and perform a single arm TRX High Biceps Curls, doing a full timed set for each arm. This principle can be applied to any exercise in the program and will require you to generate a strong anti-rotational force in the transverse plane in order to keep your core stable.
Increase Vector Challenge
The Vector Resistance® Principle governs all standing movements on the TRX. The closer your feet are to the spot directly below the anchor point (or on the opposite side of the anchor point from where you are standing), the more challenging the movement will be. Increase the vector you use for all standing movements during your second trip through the TRX FORCE Kit program to increase the challenge.
Increase Pendulum Challenge
The Pendulum Principle governs all TRX movements where your feet are suspended in the foot cradles. The farther your feet are from the spot directly beneath the anchor point, the more challenging the movement will be. Make any movement with your feet in the foot cradles more difficult by beginning with your feet farther from the anchor point.
Combine two exercises like the TRX Row and TRX Biceps Curl into a single timed set with no rest between the exercises to increase the training demand. (For more examples of combined movements, search the “Workout” section of the blog for Cool Combos.)
Where applicable on movements such as the TRX Squat or TRX Lunge, add a plyometric hop at the end. Adding this ballistic component will greatly increase the training demand.
Decrease Rest Intervals
Shorten rest periods between movements to make any of your TRX FORCE program workouts harder. This technique can be applied to both the TRX movements and running components of the program. If you are unable to maintain the desired level of intensity or find you're compromising form due to being overly fatigued, you've decreased the rest intervals too much.
Remember Your Form
The point of all of your hard training is to develop and ingrain the motor patterns you need to succeed while performing your job as a tactical operator. “This second round of TRX FORCE training will help you become more in tune with your body and lead to greater mastery of movement as opposed to 'Whoa, I'm working hard just to stabilize myself and thank god I made it through the exercises,’” says Doc Joe. Experiment with incorporating any of the above suggested progression techniques into your second trip through the TRX FORCE program, but never at the expense of compromising form.
In the next article focused on the tactical athlete, we'll look at the another way to progress exercises in the TRX FORCE program: adding external load using common, easy to source items you will find in theater. Stay tuned!
How have you amped up your TRX training upon completing the TRX FORCE program for yourself or tactical athletes you train? Share your tips below.