The TRX suspension trainer and other “instability platforms” like it are found in millions of homes (maybe even yours) and virtually every gym—but, for building muscle, strength, and performance, do they work as well as good, old-fashioned weights? The answer seems to be yes.
In a study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 36 healthy, untrained guys circuit-trained three days a week for seven weeks, doing traditional exercises (presses, snatches, curls) with weights and cables, or similar moves on a TRX, with a few Bosu ball exercises thrown in as well. (For a comparison of the workouts, click here.)
When the study concluded, scientists found no significant difference between the groups in improvements in strength, power, speed, or jumping ability. “Instability training provides an optimal stimulus for developing strength levels,” says study author José Luis Maté-Muñoz, Ph.D.
And if you work out at home and think using a TRX means doing dips in your bedroom doorway all year, think again. Any outdoor structure—tree, light pole, chain-link fence—that’s high enough (seven to nine feet) and can bear your full weight can hook you up with a great workout.