How To Do The Trx Row Properly

The trx row (aka suspension row) works your upper body, specifically the back and shoulders.

Training the muscles on your upper back can be quite a task if you lack a lot of space or specialized gym equipment such as the rowing machine.

Thankfully, the invention of suspension training has made it easier to do this with the help of trx suspension trainers.

Suspension trainers can be hung from any fixed overhead point, from a pull-up bar to a doorframe. Even a tree limb could suffice, as long as its sturdy and it is above your head.

Apart from the trainer, you only need your bodyweight to work your upper back muscles as effectively as a rowing machine would.

HOW TO DO TRX ROW

Here are the detailed instructions you need to follow to do it properly:

  • Begin by fixing the suspension trainer to whatever sturdy overhead anchor point you choose.
  • Stand upright, facing the anchor point with your feet hip-distance apart.
  • In each hand, grab a handle of the trainer.
  • Step back away from the anchor point until your arms and the trainer have formed a straight line. Your elbows should be extended with your arms reaching out in front of your body.
  • Push your shoulders back and keep them “locked” in place so you’re maintaining a good standing posture.
  • Brace your core and start to lean back, with your bodyweight shifted to your heels.
  • Keep leaning back until you get to a point where your arms (with which you are holding the handles) are keeping you from stumbling backwards .
  • Then, step both feet forward to create a 30⁰-60⁰ angle with the ground. This is the starting position.
  • Turn the trainer handles inward so that the palms face each other. Your hands should be chest-width apart.
  • Inhale, and pull your chest up towards the trainer handles using your upper back muscles, shoulders and arms.
  • Bend your elbows as you lift the chest up and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
  • Exhale as you keep pulling, stopping just when your chest is at the same level with your hands.
  • Hold this position for two seconds then reverse the steps and lower yourself slowly back to your starting position.
  • Repeat these steps in your other reps until you complete the set.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE TRX ROW WORK?

The latissimus dorsi, major and minor rhomboids, and the trapezius muscles are the main back muscles this exercise works.

Other muscles in your upper body that benefit from the trx row are your arms and shoulders.

And of course, your core also plays a stabilizing role when your body is suspended in air.

BENEFITS OF THE TRX ROW

BOOSTS BACK STRENGTH

Your back houses some of the biggest and most powerful muscles in your body.

Unfortunately, the back muscles are also commonly neglected, despite the fact that they play a very important role in making your upper body stable.

Good news is, you don’t have to be worried about weak back muscles if you do the trx row regularly.

This movement allows you to strengthen these muscles effectively without needing heavy gym machines which makes it convenient if you are unable to access a gym.

So you really don’t have an excuse for not working them anymore.

BOOSTS UPPER BODY STABILITY

When you do it correctly, this exercise can enhance stability in your upper body by recruiting your shoulder stabilizers along with other stabilizing muscles to help maintain control throughout your reps.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE TRX ROW

BARBELL ROW

So you don’t have trx trainers, or for another reason you’re unable to do the trx row. What better way to replace it than with the good old barbell row?

If you’re not new to rowing, then you must have already come across this legendary back movement.

If you are, let these steps be your guide to a perfect rowing technique:

  • Place a barbell on the floor with your feet shoulder-distance apart.
  • Tighten your core and pick the bar off the floor with a shoulder-width apart grip.
  • Once you’re standing with the barbell in your hands, breath in and hinge your hips back.
  • Pause when the bar gets to your knee .
  • With your spine straight, pull the barbell upwards in the direction of your hips.
  • Push your elbows towards your ribcage and squeeze your shoulder blades together when you get to the top.
  • Lower the bar directly under your shoulders as you take a deep breath in.
  • Repeat as many times as you want.

TRX ROW MISTAKES TO AVOID

NOT BRACING YOUR CORE

One of the best things about suspension training is that it is designed target your stabilizing muscles, including your core.

When your body is suspended in air, you need all the stability you can get to keep yourself from losing balance. This is where your stabilizing muscles come in.

Failure to squeeze your core muscles will first of all limit the benefits of the exercise, and also let your hips sag which could hurt your back or spine.

If you notice your hips dip towards the floor as you perform the trx row, chances are you are out of form since your core isn’t tight enough.

To help keep your core nice and tight, tuck your pelvis in and draw your navel towards your spine.

LETTING YOUR SHOULDERS SLUMP

As mentioned in the benefits section, the trx row can help enhance upper body stability by engaging your rotator cuff muscles as well as the stabilizing muscles in your upper body.

When done incorrectly, however, it could very well work against your shoulder muscles especially if the stabilizers fail to stabilize properly.

And what could cause them not to stabilize properly, you ask?

Forgetting to roll them back and “lock” them in place, that’s what.

To prevent slumping, be sure to engage your shoulder stabilizers especially when your arms are stretched out and your body is close to the ground.

PERFORMING THE LOWERING PHASE QUICKLY

A fast descent is the one mistake that could singlehandedly reverse your hard-earned gains in a split second.

Firstly, it greatly reduces the strength-building potential of the downward phase.

For maximum benefit, you should aim to take twice as much time as you took in the upward phase, during the descent.

Secondly, it is quite risky. Remember it involves dropping your body suddenly against gravity, which could very easily strain a ligament or muscle.

In extreme cases, it could even snap your shoulder out of its socket.

Unless you want to spend your day on an operation table getting your shoulder blade reattached into its socket, avoid this mistake.

SUMMARY

The trx row is ideal for almost everyone, but you should take things slow to minimize as much as you can the risk of injury.

And if you have upper back pain, check with your doctor first before getting into it.