How To Do The Trx Pull Up Properly

If you think the basic pull up is challenging then you clearly know nothing about the trx pull up.

This variation follows the exact movement pattern of a basic pull up, but with a (not so) tiny twist of suspension from trx trainers.

It primarily works your upper body muscles while your lower body stays mostly disengaged.

Steps:

  • Anchor trx suspension straps securely to a point above your head.
  • Adjust the straps so that they are hanging at around knee length and you can only reach them when you stretch your hands out from a seated position.
  • Sit under the anchor point, facing it.
  • Keep your hands stacked over your hips and shoulders.
  • Bend your knees at 90⁰ degrees, place your feet firmly on the floor and keep your torso straight.
  • Grab the handles and pull yourself up, starting with pulling your shoulder blades down to recruit your lats and lower traps.
  • Continue pulling up as you contract the back muscles.
  • Hold the top position for a few seconds as you squeeze the back muscles and your core.
  • Lower yourself to the starting position slowly and repeat the movement. Make sure your legs don’t get involved in any way.
  • Repeat these steps for 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE TRX PULL UP WORK?

LATISSIMUS DORSI

As you can already guess, the lats do most of the work during the trx pull up.

When you disengage your legs, your lats have to work hard to lift your body up with little help from other upper body muscles.

Keep them in your mind whenever you’re tempted to just yank the straps and get it over with.

LOWER TRAPEZIUS

The lower traps help pull your shoulders back and down during this exercise.

With stronger traps, you will be able to lift better even in other compound pulling exercises like deadlifts.

ERECTOR SPINAE

The erector spinae is a term used to refer to the muscles and tendons that run from your skull to your hips.

During the trx pull up, they help you maintain proper posture by keeping your torso vertical.

EXTERNAL OBLIQUES

Throughout this exercise, you will be trying to steady yourself by resisting core rotation.

This is where your external obliques step in to keep your body from collapsing or twisting.

BENEFITS OF THE TRX PULL UP

YOU CAN MODIFY IT

There are two ways through which you can progress this exercise.

The first one is by stretching out your legs so that you are in an L-sit position as your heels remain on the floor the whole time.

The other is the same as the first, except your feet and legs come off the ground as you pull up. You’re going to need very firm straps for this one.

ENHANCES UPPER BACK STRENGTH

When you perform a pull up from a seated position, with your knees bent and feet on the floor, the load on your upper body is reduced.

The reduced torso load allows you to concentrate on using your back muscles to drive the movement.

As you fully recruit the back to pull up entire bodyweight up, they develop more in strength and size.

IMPROVES GRIP STRENGTH

Being able to pull yourself up and hold your bodyweight though multiple sets of the trx pull up will no doubt improve your ability to grip heavy loads even outside the gym.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE TRX PULL UP

LAT PULLDOWN

During this movement, you work your lats and shoulders by pulling a hanging bar down from a seated position.

Here are the detailed steps:

  • Set the bar on a cable pulley machine to a height from which you can comfortably grasp it with outstretched hands.
  • Sit on the pulldown seat and place your feet flat on the ground.
  • With a wide overhand grip, grab the bar and pull it until it is almost level with your chin.
  • Breathe out as you pull it down and engage your core.
  • Stop pulling when you get to the point where you cannot keep moving your elbows downward without them moving towards your back.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the bottom position.
  • Slowly get the bar back to the beginning position as you control the gradual ascent.
  • Continue as many times as you want.

TRX PULL UP MISTAKES TO AVOID

LETTING YOUR LEGS HELP

Tempting as it may be, do not let your legs get involved as you pull your body up.

This exercise is for your back and letting your legs help would turn it into a leg workout real quick.

LOOSE STRAPS

Before you begin, make sure the suspension straps are extra tight.

Tighter straps not only help you harness maximum resistance but they also help support your bodyweight as you pull up.

NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE

During the trx pull up, your torso stays vertical from start to finish.

To keep your spine and lower back straight, your core must be tight.

Failure to brace your core will likely ruin your form and also put your back at risk of injury (hello, lower back pain!)

Pro tip: If you’re struggling to keep your back straight, try drawing your belly button in towards your spine and your core will be automatically braced.

TUGGING WITH YOUR ARMS

Yanking the straps with your arms instead of letting your back initiate movement makes the trx pull up more of an arm than a back exercise.

To avoid this, focus on bracing your core as you pull up.

Alternatively, you can think of pushing your elbows towards the ground instead of pulling your body up. This will help engage your back muscles more.

SUMMING UP

The trx pull up is highly effective, but is virtually impossible to realize its maximum benefit unless you follow the correct technique strictly.

If you’re having trouble keeping your torso vertical at the starting position, it is best to work on your core strength and chain flexibility separately so that you’re able to maintain proper form.