How to Perform the TRX Chest Press

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Fitness woman training with fitness straps
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Also Known As: Total body resistance exercise

Targets: Chest, shoulders, arms, core

Equipment: TRX suspension cables

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

The TRX chest press uses suspension cables instead of typical weights. Performing a chest press while suspended challenges your body in conditions of instability. This forces you to constantly engage your core to perform the movement. The exercise not only works your chest but helps to improve your balance and overall strength. Adjusting the level of difficulty for this exercise is an easy shift of your body position. 

TRX training claims to provide an effective workout with simple equipment. This is one of the many popular reasons people are trying suspension training. The adjustable bands are suitable for the novice exerciser to the advanced athlete and can be modified to fit every fitness level. Many individuals are using this method of exercise to round out an existing exercise program.

If you’re considering TRX training and are new to exercise, workouts performed in stable conditions is recommended before adding the instability of suspension straps. It may also be a good idea to enlist the guidance of a qualified personal trainer or TRX coach.

Benefits

The TRX chest press builds upper body strength and stability. The chest muscles are the primary movers involved but assisting the exercise are your shoulders, arms, and core.

You may be working your chest, but at the same time, suspension training is shown to be an effective way to build muscle, strength, improve stability, and cardiovascular health.

Because TRX involves so many muscle groups for every exercise, it can also benefit your day-to-day life activities. One of the many pros of this method of training is developing a strong core. A stronger core improves posture, helps relieve low back pain, and reduces the risk of injury. This is so important for functional fitness. You not only feel stronger, but you also feel better in general.

Step-by-Step Instructions

The great thing about TRX training is portable cables that offer the ability to workout anywhere. It just requires an area where they can be securely attached and you are ready to exercise. 

Follow these simple steps to perform the TRX Chest Press:

  1. Attach cables to an anchor point above your head. Handles will hang down about waist high.
  2. Grab the handles with your hands facing away from the anchor point.
  3. Lean forward until your body is at a 40-degree angle, arms extended straight, core tight, and keeping your body straight from head to toe.
  4. Lower yourself down, bending at the elbows and until your chest reaches handle level in the center of the cables.
  5. Exhale as you push yourself up, maintaining a tight core, and back to start position. This completes one repetition. 

Common Mistakes

The TRX chest press is performed in unstable conditions and special attention is required for proper form and technique. The following are common mistakes to avoid during this exercise.

Incorrect Start Position

Before starting the TRX chest press, perform a body awareness check. Is your core tight, body straight, and angle position good for your fitness level? Avoid the risk of injury by making sure you are set up correctly from the start. The exercise should be able to be done smoothly and without jerking movements.

Improper Exercise Finish

Not having enough strength to complete the exercise is common, especially for beginners. If you are unable to properly execute the TRX chest press, it may require you to adjust your stance.

Reduce the stress/strain of the exercise by moving your body and feet back and away from the anchor point. This will reduce the angle between your body and the ground and provide a smaller range of motion allowing you to work at your fitness level.

Loose Suspension Straps

Effective TRX exercise requires the suspension straps to remain tight throughout each movement. Having slack in your cables reduces the intensity and effectiveness of the exercise. Be aware of how your straps feel during the TRX chest press and adjust for any slack to maintain tension on the cables.

TRX Straps Rubbing Against Skin

Improper set up of the TRX straps can place the handles too low during a chest press. Gripping the handles too low causes the straps to rest on your arms. Although you may feel more stable, it can cause skin chafing during the exercise. Readjust the straps so your hand grips can be raised slightly up and arms kept away from the cables during the exercise.

Modifications and Variations

The TRX chest press can be performed in a variety of ways to accommodate your fitness level. 

Need a Modification?

If you are new to TRX training, you may want to apply a few modifications to the chest press as follows: 

  • Use a wide foot stand to reduce the stress/strain of the chest press. This will provide more stability during the exercise.
  • Reduce the range of motion for the chest press. Move your body and feet back and away from the anchor point reducing the angle between your body and the ground. This creates a smaller range of motion allowing you to work at your fitness level. This can also be accomplished by shortening the suspension straps at the anchor point before performing the chest press.
  • Stand with staggered feet similar to a lunge position. You will feel more stability and control as you work toward building upper body and core strength.

Up for a Challenge?

TRX training is a progressive exercise method suitable for all fitness levels. This means you can increase the intensity of your workout as you become stronger. The following applied modifications make the TRX chest press more advanced:

  • Lengthen the TRX straps and position your body farther away from the anchor point. Your body will be suspended closer to the ground forcing you to engage the core even more as you perform the chest press.
  • Stand with your feet closer together while performing the exercise.
  • Perform the chest press balancing on one leg and alternating legs with each full repetition.

Safety and Precautions

Workouts performed in unstable conditions require even more core engagement during the exercise. Because of this instability, it’s important to be aware of your body position and movement during TRX training including the chest press. The following tips will reduce the risk of injury during this exercise:

  • Be aware of your body position start to finish.
  • Don’t allow your core to sag during the chest press. It’s better to stop and take a rest when you feel fatigued than hurt your back not being able to hold good form.
  • Keep the straps from scraping your skin by setting up the cables and exercise properly. It may feel more stable resting the straps on your arms during the chest press but it makes the exercise less effective and creates an uncomfortable skin problem post workout.
  • Avoid jerky movements during the chest press. If the exercise feels too hard, simply modify the movement to your fitness level.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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