5 Best TRX Exercises for Granite Upper Back

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Randy Hetrick, a Navy Seal, invented Total Resistance Exercise (TRX) in 1997. His goal was to create an effective exercise for Seal operatives, so they can workout wherever deployed.

In my years spent as a coach, I’ve found TRX exercises a great way to build a rock-solid upper back.

Use these exercises to target any muscle group you want. If you're looking to take your TRX workouts to the next level, consider incorporating good quality strongest pre-workout supplements.

Here is my list of the 5 best TRX exercises to build the back you’ve always wanted.

Quick Summary

  • The best TRX exercises for a rock-solid upper back include TRX inverted rows, single arm rows, power pulls, TRX Y, and face pulls.
  • These exercises target key upper back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and erector spinae, enhancing muscle strength and flexibility.
  • A study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine finds TRX workouts and traditional training equally effective for muscle development, burning about 400 calories per session.
  • Personally, I've found that integrating TRX exercises into training routines not only improves back strength but also significantly enhances overall body posture and core stability.

1. TRX Inverted Rows

TRX Inverted Rows

If you choose to only do one kind of back exercise, go for this one.

In my coaching experience, the TRX Inverted Row has been a go-to for beginners and seasoned athletes alike.

This exercise works:

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Mid traps
  • Rhomboids
  • Erector spinae muscles

TRX inverted rows are an excellent choice for anyone suffering from shoulder, elbow, or wrist issues. Compared to the barbell inverted row, which locks the grip into an over or under position, an inverted row gives you more flexibility.

You can go neutral, over or underhand, and anything in between.

How To Do It

  • Grab one handle in each hand
  • Hold the arms straight and hands palm down
  • Lean back, keep the hips up, abs tight, shoulder blades together
  • Take a deep breath and exhale as you pull yourself up
  • Go back down and repeat

Pro Tip: To make the exercise more challenging, move the feet forward, or get underneath the anchor point. This’ll add load to the exercise because now you’ll be pulling up at a steeper angle.

Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

2. TRX Single Arm Row

TRX Single Arm Row

This exercise is the perfect choice for correcting strength and muscle size imbalances between sides. Plus, it also has anti-rotation benefits.

This is a great alternative to single-arm dumbbell rows. Just thread one handle through the other to have a secure grip for your hand.

From my coaching perspective, I've seen the TRX Single Arm Row effectively correct imbalances in numerous clients.

How To Do It

  • Grab the TRX suspension trainer handle
  • Lean back keeping the abs tight, legs straight
  • Pull your body up, keeping the chest up and the strap tight until your torso meets with your hands
  • Go down in one controlled movement
  • Pause at the bottom to re-engage the core strength and repeat

Pro tip: Don’t pull up by doing a shoulder roll, instead keep the shoulder blades together and straight.

Do 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

3. TRX Power Pull

TRX Power Pull

You’re looking for something more intense? Power pull is the answer. It’ll help you improve shoulder flexibility and mobility, as it takes the upper back through a wide range of motion.

In my sessions, the TRX Power Pull has always been a favorite for clients seeking a challenging, full-body workout.

TRX pull will work your:

  • Back muscles
  • Core
  • Biceps

Because power pull has a lot of moving parts, I recommend you first master the single-arm row.

“As a swimmer, I have to do a lot of pulling. As a firefighter, I have to do a lot of lifting and that requires a strong back. As a master trainer for TRX I know I’m using the best pulling toll on the market.”

- Kari Woodall, TRX Master Trainer

How To Do It

  • You’ll only use one handle, so tie them together to prevent the handle from sliding
  • Hold on to the handle with the elbow locked tight to the side of the body
  • Place the feet wide to support you and your body in a straight line
  • Start with the arm forwards and then rotate the body outwards
  • Extend the arm holding on to the TRX looking behind you, opening the body right way up
  • Pull in reaching forwards and repeat

Pro tip: Follow the non-working hand with your eyes, as this will make the rotational part more effective.

Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps for each side.

4. TRX Y

TRX Y

If you struggle with bad posture and need help strengthening the muscles around the shoulder blades, or if you’re an athlete who spends a lot of time doing TRX overhead squat, this is a fantastic exercise for you.

It’s called Y because of the shape the arms make at the midpoint level.

Having implemented the TRX Y in various training routines, I've observed significant posture improvements in my clients.

This exercise will work your:

How To Do It

  • Grab the TRX straps
  • Lean back, keeping the arms tight at your sides, feet hip width apart
  • Keep the shoulder blades retracted, don’t round out the upper back
  • Keep the head aligned with the body, with the chin slightly tucked in
  • Raise your arms up until they are fully extended above your head
  • Squeeze the contraction and slowly release back down
  • Keep the eyes above the anchor point

Pro Tip: The harder you lean away from the anchor point, the harder the exercise will be. Stand more upright when first starting to gauge the strength of your lower traps.

Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

A deeper understanding of back anatomy can significantly enrich your TRX workout effectiveness. Detailed knowledge about the functions of key muscles like the rhomboids and upper trapezius can help you tailor your TRX exercises to target these muscles more efficiently.

5. TRX Face Pull

TRX Face Pull

You want to build your upper back area? Face pull suspension training could be the answer you’re looking for. It’s done with an adjustable pulley machine with a rope handle.

Through my coaching experience, the TRX Face Pull has proven essential for upper back strengthening, especially in posture correction.

This suspension training will work your:

  • Rhomboid upper back muscles
  • Posterior deltoids
  • Straightener the external shoulder rotators

As this exercise works the torso and upper body, it’s good for posture correction.

How To Do It

  • Grab the handles with arms straight
  • Lean back with the body in a straight line
  • Pull up, keeping the elbows at shoulder height
  • Aim for your hands to come up by your eyes
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades to feel back muscle contraction
  • Lower back to the starting position
  • Keep the elbows high the whole time
  • Only go the body distance, not further back

Pro Tip: You can progress the exercise by changing the positions of your hands. Remove one hand from the TRX and keep it up on the same level as the other hand.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

For a more holistic approach to fitness, consider combining TRX exercises with other training modalities. Integrating TRX workouts into circuits that include free weights or cardio elements can provide a comprehensive full-body workout, enhancing overall fitness and endurance.

FAQs

Is Trx Training Effective?

Yes, Trx training is effective. A study conducted on 16 people doing a 60-minute total resistance exercise class found that they burned 400 calories per session, had decreases in waist circumference and body fat percentage, and improved muscle strength and endurance [1]. A wall slide is effective if you’re doing overhead work. With a wall slide, you can alternate by lifting arms to work individual shoulders.

Is Trx Better Than Lifting Weights?

No, since a study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that both suspension and traditional training work equally well

Is Trx a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Yes, Trx is a good way to lose weight. It challenges the whole body, which creates a metabolic effect that helps you be in shape and have lean muscles.

Is Trx or Cardio Better for Strength?

If gaining strength is your goal, traditional cardio training is superior to TRX. However, TRX can also be effective in gaining strength when being creative with the suspension training.

How Much Weight Can a Trx Handle?

A TRX can handle up to 1400 pounds.


References:

  1. https://www.acefitness.org/continuing-education/certified/november-2016/6102/ace-sponsored-research-investigating-the-acute-and-chronic-health-benefits-of-trx-suspension-training/
  2. https://www.jssm.org/hfabst.php
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
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Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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