5 TRX Row Form Fouls You Might Be Making
TRX classes have gotten insanely popular, and for good reason. They will build you a bulletproof core and get you pretty darn strong. They’re incredibly convenient to use, safe for most populations to use, and perfect for not only building fitness at the gym, but also at home, your favorite park, your hotel room…or wherever your training travels take you.
If you’re taking a class right now, you probably love it, and you should. They are brutal and you’re getting not only a great strength workout, but my guess is your heart rate might be going up, as well, which is never a bad thing. Especially since we know that high intensity training is part of the fat loss holy grail.
If you’ve read my stuff on SG, you know I’m a wee bit “particular” about form when it comes to training. With TRX it’s no different, which is why I’m going to give you the five biggest TRX fitness fouls I see when people use them. The exercise is only as good as the form you bring to it, so hopefully this will help you dial in yours.
1) Wrists rolling/curling in at the top of the row
Anytime you pull, you are doing a back exercise (or at least you should be!). So, the muscles you should be using? You guessed it, the ones in the back. The TRX row is a great exercise to add squats and hinges to really up the ante on the cardio component of your workout.
With that being said, here’s the first muscular miscue I see when people do this exercise: as people pull themselves up, they curl their wrists in toward the middle of their body. More times than not they are also bringing the shoulders with them in internal rotation.
Do this, and your biceps and anterior delts (front of the shoulders) are getting too involved, and the back muscles that should be working won’t get involved enough. The quick fix is to move as if your wrists are in casts and focus on keeping a straight line from the ankles through the knees, hips and shoulders as you pull.
2) The head shoots forward toward the end range of the pull
Ever seen chickens at chow time with their heads bobbing in and out? Your last name doesn’t need to be McDonald, first name Old, to know what this looks like.
The cause is your neck flexors (look down, you’re using them) not keeping your chin where it’s supposed to be. Remember, destabilize at the cervical spine (neck), and you run the risk of doing it in your lumbar spine (low back) as well.
Pretend you’re holding an imaginary ball between the chin and collarbone to correct this as you move, and you should feel much more connected to the front half of your body.
3) Not performing a moving plank
The plank position is the foundation for most of the things you do while exercising. Regardless of what you’re doing (loaded carries, squats, hinges, push, pull or anti-rotation work) it’s your foundation for movement, allowing you to build some serious fitness.
Without proper core control to stabilize your trunk as you move, form degrades as joints get out of alignment, soft tissues get angry over time, and you don’t get the full benefit of an exercise. Being able to hold your column as you move is the best way to make sure you stay on top of this.
One of the more frequent examples of this I see is someone’s hips collapsing toward the floor at the bottom of the row where they resemble the letter V, and then they compliment this with their rib cage flying away from the hips at the top of the pull.
By doing this, you disengage the core from the movement, lose your foundation and ultimately finish by arching the low back to get you back up. It’s pretty hard to do one part of the pull wrong without negatively affecting another component as well.
The fix here is to lock down the hips/glutes throughout the movement and focus on owning your rib cage the entire time. Essentially, perform a plank then add a row to it! This will connect the whole body to the movement allowing you to get a lot more out of it.
Remember, the only body parts that should move in a straight row are the arms. Add anything else to that, and you’ve brought bad form to a good exercise.
4) Toes are on the floor
This won’t make or break your row, although you may be a little more prone to losing your column and arching your back. Aaaaaand you may disengage the core/hips driving into the movement, but other than that, you’re good.
I like people to drive their toes toward their shins to not only have the glutes be the primary anchor point, but to engage the front half of the body that much more keeping you more connected to your column. In fact, the best way to get a sense of how this helps is once you pull the feet back, have someone gently try to pull your toes away from shin. You should instantly feel more connected in the front of the body, allowing a much better flow of strength coming from the back.
As soon as the hands start to move when the toes are up, your heels should immediately bite into the floor and lock down the glutes automatically connecting the back half of the body that much more. If you don’t feel this right away, stretch the hip flexors on each side and try it again. If that doesn’t work, stretch them again and do some floor bridges, that should plug things back in.
5) Shoulders fly in front of the collarbone on the way down
This is bad for several reasons: you’re losing shoulder stability, stressing the cervical spine and the ability to drive more power from the back half of the body. The shoulders need to be in neutral at the bottom of the movement to stabilize it properly so you cankeep excess forces that don’t need to be there, well, out of there. This also includes letting them snap forward in an attempt to go faster to drive the heart rate up.
Hopefully this movement map for doing a proper TRX row helps you get more out of your next workout. Thank you very much for reading!