Hardcore Resistance Training: TRX’s Final Frontier?
The validity of TRX as a concept, tool and tactical approach for improving “fitness” and increasing human performance is beyond dispute: combine a serious resistance tool with an equally effective cardio/sustained-strength device and make it maximally portable, and you have a world beater; the fulfillment of the old Chinese adage, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” The path to the TRX doorway has been worn smooth.
In order for a legitimate fitness tool, supplement, training idea or fat loss diet strategy to survive and prosper, that idea must ultimately deliver on its promises. The initial goal of any legitimate fitness product is to survive long enough to gain traction and to ultimately create a large following of avid, satisfied, result-receiving repeat users: clients, students, customers, people who love the product or the idea and love it for one reason and one reason only: the product delivers tangible, measurable, irrefutable results. In real fitness, real results and survival are inexorably linked.
Converting first time users into long-term clients requires mathematically verifiable, non-subjective, objective physical results. Since the name of the game is “fitness,” we define results as “favorable changes in the user’s body composition and/or a dramatic improvement in athletic performance.” Experience has shown these two goals are linked.
We seek progress from our fitness products. We seek progress in all of the physical activities we engage in. Progress is defined as exceeding current physical limitations and performance benchmarks, in some manner or fashion. Progress can also manifest as a dramatic improvement in body composition: we seek to add lean muscle and reduce our body fat percentile. We recognize that progress has many flavors and guises, and that progress (and capacity) is an ever-shifting target.
Progress is our most important product. To induce progress, we seek to exceed current capacities and limitations over a wide range of categorical benchmarks. This is the eternal goal of true fitness. Progress occurs when we exceed or extend current personal bests and establish new performance benchmarks. When you exceed old standards and establish new personal records on a consistent basis, you concurrently morph the body. More muscle is constructed as stored body fat is mobilized, oxidized and melted.
When proper training and nutrition protocols are in place and practiced in a skillful, balanced and diligent fashion, physiological, psychological and metabolic momentum meld together to produce physical synergy. Synergy envelopes the athlete and creates transformative momentum. The momentum builds at an ever-accelerating rate, and results begin to exceed realistic expectations.
The athletic elite are privy to a little-known physiological fact. A physiologic sweet spot exists, a metabolic Nirvana, and access to this slim sliver, this Zone of Progress, requires a skillful blending of hardcore resistance training with intense, endorphin-producing cardio. Both training protocols are underpinned with nutrient-dense, regenerative, restorative nutrition. When all of the disparate elements are in place and practiced with due diligence, real results occur rapidly. We call this metabolic synergy, and after attaining this metabolic sweet spot, as long as the athlete retains what he has attained, as long as he does what he's supposed to, he will stay precariously perched in perfect synchronized balance – and results will continue to occur at a dramatically accelerated pace. Sometimes the Zone lasts for months.
Very few products, ideas or strategies actually produce real results. That’s the sad truth. When a fitness-related product or idea is able to produce real results, radical results, irrefutable results, when that product or idea is able to produce results on a widespread, systematic and consistent basis, then that product or idea gains traction and most likely survives and thrives. The truth will eventually win out.
The core goal of elite fitness is (ultimately) to ignite a physical transformation. This is profound. We are forcing evolution. True transformation comes with a stiff price tag: gut-busting physical effort and nutritional sophistication and discipline, all overseen by an iron-willed sense of purpose that is politically incorrect in a big way in our “high self-esteem” times where everyone gets a participation trophy.
Many fitness devotees labor under a mythical illusion that there exists somewhere some magical system of fitness training that will allow them to do something that’s never been done: undergo a profound physical transformation with little or no physical effort. We all crave those amazing physical results, we just don’t want to go through all that physical hell to obtain them. There must exist somewhere a magical system of effortless training that delivers profound results. You just haven’t found it yet. Don’t worry. There are plenty of fitness “experts” willing to sell you transformation in a pill or bottle.
When you finally find this top secret training protocol, you will be able to attain mind-blowing results, a rocked-out body with tons of power, strength and stamina. You will look like the physical god you’ve always been in your mind’s eye. You can do so without having to exert any effort: no blood, toil, sweat and tears, no white-hot physical effort or iron-willed discipline for you. You get an exemption from the laws of physics and biology and Nature, laws to which the rest of us are required to adhere. Your magical method triggers a radical physical makeover without you having to break a sweat.
Wouldn’t it be great if sub-maximal workouts and sloppy eating produced stunning results? Wouldn’t it be great if bright and shiny, happy-go-lucky, smiley-face, talk-to-your-neighbor-while-you-train workouts resulted in incredible gains? We could gossip as we trained. We could catch up on all the neat stuff we’ve been missing and make nice new friends. We’d never have to get sweaty and yucky and smelly or take showers. After “working out,” we could sip cappuccino or imported beer and eat croissant sandwiches with extra mayo and fries with nacho cheese atop at the pub. We could ride home on our pink unicorns, back to our mansions on Candy Cane Lane to take naps and then have sex by the pool with our supermodel wives.
One key to fitness success is to always be clear on the goals. What do we realistically want and expect in return for all the intense and prolonged physical training we subject ourselves to? Intense physical effort triggers hypertrophy. We use hypertrophy to create more muscle and usable athletic power. We exert intense physical effort in our training. Hypertrophy occurs as a direct result of maximal effort, using the right tools and the right techniques, performing the right exercises and taking training efforts past the lip of the limits on an ongoing basis.
TRX survives and thrives. The protocols and procedures used in conjunction with this versatile, portable device have imbued irrefutable results on a widespread basis for a protracted period of time over the widest possible chronologic demographic. But as the old French WWI Nihilist torch/angst-song went, “Is that all there is?”
We have a new way to use TRX. We create heavy, taxing payloads. We find ways to add to the TRX athlete’s bodyweight during the actual set in a calculated effort to create muscular overload and trigger muscle hypertrophy. Next week, we’ll continue this discussion and turn towards training template specifics.