Can you build muscle with a TRX?

Can you build muscle with a TRX? The biggest thing I ever learnt was that a muscle doesn’t know if you’re holding a dumbbell or broom stick. All it knows is the tension one can create through a range of motion regardless of the tool that is used to do it with. If you’d prefer […]

Written By TRX Traveller

On 12th June 2020

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Can you build muscle with a TRX? The biggest thing I ever learnt was that a muscle doesn’t know if you’re holding a dumbbell or broom stick. All it knows is the tension one can create through a range of motion regardless of the tool that is used to do it with.

If you’d prefer to read about “Can you build muscle with a TRX?”

Here’s the transcript for my own personal opinion on whether you can build muscle with a TRX

You can build muscle with a broom stick!

I think especially with the lockdown recently it’s been quite a bit of a hot topic and I’ve certainly had a lot of DMS and questions from people all over asking if it’s possible?

In my opinion yes! It’s absolutely possible to build muscle with a TRX.

Now of course you expect me to say that being the TRX Traveller. But, one of the biggest things that I ever learned was your your muscle it doesn’t know whether you’re holding a broomstick or a dumbbell you know all it understands is the tension that you can create in the muscle through an active range of motion.

You could build muscle with a broomstick if you can cause enough tension, if you can get enough breakdown and blood rushing into that muscle to cause catabolic breakdown.

You can build muscles with anything if you perform it right and you can create tension on the muscle. The TRX just happens to be a wicked tool to do exactly that with.

A fundamental ‘wrong’ thing is that people ‘just move’ with a TRX

I think the fundamental thing what what I see people doing a lot at the time of with a TRX, is they just move. And that’s what I try and sort of teach people you know. Don’t just move with the TRX it’s still a tool just like a weight is a tool, just like a can of beer is a tool. You know it’s still a tool to use to to train the muscle so don’t just treat it as something to balance with or hold.

Don’t just move when you’re using the TRX.

Think about the exact muscle you want to isolate and think about purely contracting that muscle. It’s focusing on the contraction of the muscle that causes the movement not the movement that causes contraction.

It’s internally thinking and focusing and yes that’s when you can get much more detailed. Using drop-sets and the tiny little tweaks of wrist pronation, all that sort stuff.

You can then start doing tri-sets, but I think it’s sort of initially taking a step back and just understanding and appreciating that it’s exactly like a dumbbell. You can create the same amount of tension and load on you on your body with gravity and this TRX. Just as you do with the dumbbells there’s no difference.

So you don’t necessarily need to treat the TRX training differently.

With TRX training I close my eyes to workout

I think that the massive added benefit of TRX training is that you can do in your own space, in your own time.

You’re not going to have someone ask you

“can I use that bench?”


“are you finished with that weight?”

It takes it out of you, distracts you. There’s a lot the times when I’m training with a TRX that I actually close my eyes. You know?

I’ll be I’ll be working through sets and then I’ll close them and I’ve got into this almost meditative state. I can just feel, I can almost visualise and I can almost see how my muscles are lengthening and contracting as I’m using the TRX to workout.

It feels awesome you know, I come away and I’m like

“well I don’t where I’ve been for the last hour but Christ I’ve got one hell of a pump and yeah my mind is clear!

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It’s thinking about how to isolate a muscle with the correct intention then technique

I spent a lot of my life living in my 20s, I’m not 33, a lot my life in my 20s living inside a gym

I really believed I had to be in one all the times to achieve any level of fitness. Or to be honest, to just to just look good. You know I want to just look good I’m not I’m not a pro-athlete, I’m not a bodybuilder, I just want to feel healthier. I want to look good.

The possibilities of TRX trining is also about being able to to use it properly, to actually isolate areas.i

I see a lot people doing TRX Y’s, which is a great example. I say:

“well what are you trying do?”

“What are you trying to target with with the TRX Y? “

They say:

“I don’t know just it maybe a bit of my shoulders, bit my back or something you know”

And I see people sort of retract their shoulders and as they’re doing TRX Y’s and I say to them:

“Well you know if you think about it, if you’re retracting your shoulder blades as you’re doing a Y… How do you re-tract your shoulder blades? You have to engage your back muscles to pull the shoulder blades back.


So how about trying to do the Y if you protract, so protract your shoulders what does that do?

That takes out all the back muscles so now when you do the TRX Y and stay in a protracted position, what’s happening?

Well all the tension is being put just on the rear deltoid.”

See that’s a way of isolating just that.

so I think it’s it’s seeing that the TRX as a tool to be able to isolate with as well just like how you would see someone in a gym with a bench targeting rear deltoids.

This is when it then gets into areas of real body building you know? Essentially sculpting, body sculpting.

Incorporating playful TRX exercise is the key to development

It’s about also being playful with the TRX.

It’s very easy to sit with dumbbells and decide to curl and make sure you can keep the elbows at your side.

When you’re hanging from TRX it’s a little bit more difficult to sort of say well I can’t really keep my arms at my side so how can i isolate the bicep?

Do I pull them in to my stomach?

I can’t go fully down to extend my bicep, I can maybe only go to 3/4 extension so how am I going to target the lower part of the bicep?

There, you know the lower end of the strength curve. Well how about if I do a one-arm curl where I’m hanging and I go side on and then I can really extend my my bicep!

I step out and I can really focus on pulling right up and engage at the top and at the bottom end of the bicep. I can certainly pronate and twist at the wrist too.

So there’s multiple ways to emulate exactly the same way as if you lift dumbbells with the TRX. It’s just about sort of getting a bit creative and thinking.

That’s exactly what I do.

Why do people think you HAVE TO be in a gym to build muscle?

Over the years I studied ferociously people like Ben Pulaski, who I think is incredible. He’s almost like a bodybuilder turned yoga teacher and the way he talks about muscles and how he talks about them. How you can target and isolate and the intention

People like that, Elisia Gowans is another fantastic female bodybuilder who’s incredibly skilled. I see and I absorb what they have to say with what they do in the gym.

I think to myself:

“How now can apply those principles to work with the TRX?”

Why does it have to be only in a gym with weights that you can increase muscle size and body build?

The TRX is just the tool, it’s all about the intention, the thought and making the connection that stimulates the growth.

That was when everything changed for me, everything clicked with a TRX

I started using the TRX in my own space time outside of a gym environment

I was on my own on a beach in Mexico or in the middle of nowhere. You realise that, well I haven’t got a huge weight that I can just add onto a squat bar.

So what do I do?

Well I have to really now focus on feeling the muscle contract. I have to really now focus on feeling the muscle work. And that’s what changed for me, it made me take a step back and I really internalised myself.

When I was using the TRX I really studied and felt and really took so much more notice of how my body felt when I used the TRX. How I could contract muscles, how I could place them under different loads of tension.

Where as when I used to be in a gym my focus was right I want to lift that heavy weight because I want to look good. That kind of ‘bro style’ of lifting.

It was like right I need to add more weight this week so I have to increase my weight each week. I got so distracted by the people in the gym as well.

There’s always a bigger fish, there’s always a better looking the fish, there’s always a stronger fish. I got distracted by that and it wasn’t until I was in my own space doing my own TRX thing in a flat, in a house or outside of the gym vibe that my body physique and everything change.

Because my focus didn’t drift it became solely on me and it became internalised.

The biggest benefit is that TRX training is meditation

I think overall the main benefit is meditation with TRX muscle building.

It’s possible in your own space, in your own time with internal focus and feeling. It’s amazing you know.

Arnie would talk about mindful muscle connection, its internal feeling. But what you don’t actually hear him talk about is that when he was in the gyms they were dead, they were really quiet.

The only guys that really went into the gyms were proper body builders. It was their era that that exploded it and everyone started going into gyms.

Everyone started to try and body build so it got much harder to internally focus, to almost meditate.

Frank Zane talks so much about meditation and being in his own space in his own zone. He was in his own frame of mind when he when he was working. I mean the video of Frank Zane when he’s doing, I think he spent two hours doing side to side crunches on chair once in the gym.

You can see he’s just in this this zone, but you look at the space in the gym! There’s like two people there and they’re professionals and in their own zone.

You try and do two hours of crunches in the gym now and someone’s going to kick you straight off a bench after five minutes!

So there is this huge benefit to TRX training, in my opinion, huge benefit of being able to exercise in your own space, your own time and when you want.

It’s just the same as when you work. if you’re working you need quietness. you read and in the library, you need quiet to focus and the same can be said for exercise. Muscle building specifically to really sort of feel it working and really internalise and feeling how the muscle feels when it contracts.

Can you build muscle with a TRX?

The different angles and constant variation with TRX training

I have to love the creativity you can get with the TRX workouts.

Because it’s just endless.

The slight sort of variation of just moving your feet from different angles and positions to the TRX. How you can pull yourself up can be slightly different every time, unless you specifically marking it.

So you’re constantly incorporating a tiny different angle of challenge to that muscle.

Body sculpting with a TRX by targeting weak points

I’ve been training with a TRX all over the world in different places

I’ve at least managed to, not that I’m trying to judge myself or say I’m ahead of anyone, but I believe manage to maybe maintain some muscle if you don’t wanna say that I’ve added any.

Personally I think I’ve added some muscle because I can see differences in my physique.

I’ve got to a stage now where I really sort of work on programs that look at weak points with TRX training. I almost approach my TRX training with a bodybuilding style.

Where’s my weak points?

Right how can I use a TRX to target just that specific muscle area weak point. Just that outer quad, how can i target just the bicep peak, just the upper end of the strength curve on the bicep.

So I just love dissecting and looking at ways to TRX train like that.

In conclusion, can you build muscle with a TRX?


And that my ramble on can you build build muscle with a TRX.

Again I’m not a bodybuilding, by no means a stage athlete or anything like that.

I just have a huge passion in being able to exercise anywhere and achieve my own fitness goals wherever I like. And I have a huge passion to want to help other people experience that as well. To have that kind of eye-opener that I did.

I honestly believe TRX training is life-changing

I was so anchored to a gym before I discovered the TRX and now I’m barely anchored to anywhere

I kind of live sort of out of a backpack. But that might change soon and maybe settle a bit more here in London. It’s such a fantastic city.

If you’ve got any comments or debates? I’d love to debate this more and discuss it more so please leave some comments below.

Even argue against me, go against me and debate away.

Thank you very much for taking the time to watch this and listen to my ramblings

If you want to know more about me and how bloody obsessive and crazy I am about TRX training and traveling you can find me on instagram of read about my journey here

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TRX Traveller

It's my passion to help people achieve their fitness goals using a TRX anywhere.

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