The ultimate TRX leg workout: Build legs like oak in the comfort of the living room

Take your lower body training up a notch
The ultimate TRX leg workout

Suspension training has become one of the fastest growing forms of home workout over the past decade. Not only does it offer a cheap and space-efficient way to train but the sheer range of exercises possible using a suspension trainer like the TRX will blow your mind.

Although to the casual observer a TRX may look like a couple of straps held together by some clips, the design and strength of the system offers one of – if not the – most versatile formats of training out there.

Essentially, you can't train all of the muscles in the body with your bodyweight alone and although gravity means that pushing movements like press-ups and squats are accessible, working on pulling motions is very difficult without some form of specialist kit.

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With pull up bars it's possible to hit those areas, and gyms obviously offer the ability to work on a full range of muscle groups with the aid of weights and machines. However, if you want to train at home or in the park, there's nothing like a suspension trainer.


And it's not just about space-saving and training those hard to reach areas, there are also a range of additional benefits when suspension training that make it such a popular choice fitness folk these days. The design not only allows for a diverse range of flexibility and mobility workouts but it also can help scale exercises in a way that can lessen or increase the difficulty. Not bad for something you can stuff in a drawer until you need it.

In this series of workouts, we run through some of the best exercises that you can carry out with a suspension trainer with handy pictures and video links to make sure you're getting it right. Make sure you choose the right length setting for each exercise (scroll to the bottom for a guide on how to do this).

Reverse Lunge

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves

TRX setting: Mid-length

The reverse lunge is an excellent exercise to target the bulk of the leg muscles and, unlike the squat, the movement isolates each leg at a time. The upshot of isolation is that it can help to rectify imbalances in the body, allowing the muscles and joints in each leg to develop independently – whereas one leg may be compensating for the other in a squat.

The TRX allows an additional level of support throughout the motion which means that the movement is more accessible to beginners. For more advanced users the added balance can help to focus on form throughout the workout and continue the exercise for longer.

How to do it: Holding the TRX at chest height, lift one leg to 90 degrees, then, with a controlled motion lead it backwards to the ground. Finish with the front leg at 90 degrees and the full foot in a stable position on the ground. Hold for a second then lift that leg back to a standing position and repeat with the alternate leg.

Variations can be made to the reverse lunge to make the exercises easier or harder. These include removing the knee lift to 90 degrees or adding a jump to the movement.

See a video of the exercise here

Low Lunge

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves

TRX setting: Mid-length

Although the low lunge works the same muscles as the reverse lunge there is a difference in the format of the movement. When forward lunging there is often a shift in balance towards the front foot which requires an additional level of balance control as well as placing more weight on the forefoot.

Using the TRX there is an an additional focus on upper body mobility as the arms are raised as the foot comes forward. This motion not only aids with the balance of the movement but also incorporates a mobility element which may increase the difficulty of the exercise.

How to do it: Holding the TRX below chest height in front and leaning into the straps, lift one leg forward with a controlled motion and land the foot at 90 degrees in front of you, ending with the foot in a stable position on the ground with the weight on the heel.. Hold for a second then lift that leg back to a standing position and repeat with the alternate leg.

See a video of the exercise here

Abducted Lunge

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, abductors

TRX setting: Mid-calf

The abducted lunge is a tricky exercises to get right as the movement utilizes a combination of strength and balancing elements that require a lot of practice. Although one leg is effectively completing a pistol squat (or a single leg squat), the addition of the TRX instability and the force applied to the abductor muscles go to make the exercise quite demanding.

How to do it: Stand sideways to the strap and place your foot in the cradle, internally rotating the hip and plantar flexing the ankle to maintain spinal extension and tension in the gluteals. Hinging at the hip, lower into a squat until you're at a 90-degree angle from the floor (or as close as you can get before then). Maintaining as straight a back as possible, push back up in a controlled movement until you're standing upright and repeat.

See a video of the exercise here

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, abductors

TRX setting: Mid-length

The side to side lunge is a popular exercise with athletes and sports players due to the lateral nature of the movement. Unlike runners, who tend to only move forwards, sports players move sideways. The side to side lunge offers an excellent way to build those functional muscles.

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How to do it: With your feet about two feet apart and your hands held to the chest in front, move your bodyweight to one side and lower into a single leg squat position. Hold for a second then come back up. When carrying out the exercise aim to focus the workload on the leg, only using the arms to support the movement if required.

Try to avoid the temptation to lean back into the movement and keep your back as straight as possible.

See a video of the exercise here

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Single leg squat

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves

TRX setting: Mid-length

The single leg squat, also known as the pistol squat, is an extremely difficult exercise that many people are unable to do without some sort of aid. The TRX offers the ability to add stability to the movement as well as allow you to use your arms to help lift at the most difficult points. It's for this reason that the TRX single leg squat offers the perfect progression to performing a standalone pistol squat (a favorite amongst CrossFitters).

How to do it: Stand with your feet together and your arms at chest height in front of you. Lift one leg off the ground and lower the body into a single leg squat. Try not to lean back using the TRX unless completely necessary and keep your back as straight as possible.

Lower the body so that your leg is at a 90-degree angle from the ground and then push up my activating the leg muscles as opposed to pulling with your arms.

See a video of the exercise here

Squat jump

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, lower back and the abdominals

TRX setting: Mid-length

Squat jumps are an excellent progression for the humble squat as the exercise not only burns more calories, but the added movement requires additional effort from the ankle, hips and core. Meaning that you get additional benefits that can help with many functional movements like running or sports. There's also the fact that your muscles need to work explosively, which helps develop muscles you don;'s use with a static squat.

Due to the added balance required when jumping, the TRX can help to keep you in position and act as an anchor if your jumping starts to move you around.

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms out at chest height in front of you. Lower to a squat position and then explode upwards into a jump. Land softly allowing your knees to take the impact and repeat the movement. Try not to lean back using the TRX unless completely necessary and keep your back as straight as possible.

See a video of the exercise here

Crossing lunge

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, quads, glutes (focus on glute medius), calves, lower back, inner thighs

TRX setting: Mid-length

The crossing lunge may look like a reverse lunge but the unconventional movement of the leg incorporates additional muscles that make the exercise significantly harder. The awkward position also means you need to focus more on form and the movement of the ankle joint to ensure it isn't placed into a position that might cause injury. The movement is similar to a curtesy lunge.

How to do it: With both feet together, lift one foot off the ground and move it behind and diagonally behind the front foot. In a controlled motion, taking care to ensure good form, lower the foot into a position where the front knee is at a 90-degree angle and the lowered ankle feels comfortable. Pause for a second then lift the leg back to standing and repeat with the alternate leg.

The aim with this exercise is to move in a lateral direction, however, many people will lack this mobility so moving diagonally behind the forefoot is more likely.

See a video of the exercise here

Glute bridge

TRX workout for lower body

Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, thighs, hips, core, and hamstrings

TRX setting: Mid-calf

Working the lower body is not just about squats and lunges. The glute bridge is one of the most valuable and taxing exercises you can do for the lower body and has massive benefits to functional movement like walking, running and sports.

The addition of the TRX adds an extra level of training that actually progresses the movement to be significantly harder. This is due to the need to build a strong core when maintaining the movement with the instability of the TRX.

How to do it: Lying on the ground with your hands at the side, place your feet into the cradles of the TRX. Maintaining balance throughout and keeping your back straight and off the floor, lift the cradles towards you focussing the muscular movement in the glutes.

Pause and feel the contraction in your glutes then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

See a video of the exercise here

Setting your TRX strap length

It's important to ensure that's you've set the straps to the correct length when working out as this can massively effect the exercises and the muscles you're working on. Here's a handy video guide on the settingw mentioned above.

For detailed workouts using a TRX device you can download the app here. Note that the workouts do come at a fee.


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