Could a lightweight set of nylon straps be all you need to get stronger and leaner from head to toe? That's the promise behind the TRX® Suspension Trainer™—a portable workout system that uses your body weight to create resistance so you build strength, flexibility, and balance.
Here's how it works: For $189.95 you get a basic package that includes a suspension trainer (think along the lines of a beefed-up resistance cord), an instructional DVD and a how-to guide. Anchor the suspension trainer to a sturdy door, jungle gym or any other structure that won't budge, and follow the DVD and guidebook to work virtually every muscle in your body. Sounds simple, and it is—but the TRX workout was developed by a Navy Seal, and it's tough. Even without heavy weights, fancy equipment, and complicated maneuvers, it's a safe bet you'll break a sweat.
TRX pros: "This workout is extremely versatile, which makes for some explosive, challenging and ever-changing workouts," says exercise physiologist Marco Borges. Plus, the gear's portable (it weighs less than 2 pounds), which means you're not trapped indoors—and there's no excuse not to get a workout in.
"Women especially love TRX workouts because they tone and shape the body without adding bulk," Borges notes. So where can you expect to see the most improvement? Borges says it's all about the legs, butt, and hamstrings. "With TRX, you can suspend and work one leg at a time, which adds that much more resistance."
TRX cons: While TRX is at its core a basic, overall-body workout using minimal equipment, it takes balance and coordination to do it well—which may be an obstacle for beginners, especially non-athletic types. Borges's advice? Start with fixed movements and then progress into the explosive jumps as you get more comfortable.
"I had a little trouble figuring out how to get the holder steady, but once everything was secure, the workout was easy to follow. The day after I tried it, I could barely bend over to put my shoes on!" says Tia, 30, of Washington, DC. "You feel it all over—especially in your legs and backside. I'm not going to lie, I stayed sore for a few days. But that's also how you know a workout kicked your butt… in a good way."
"A friend of mine suggested the TRX workout, and now I'm obsessed with it," says Lisa, 29, of Boston. "It was really hard at first, especially because I had about zero upper-body strength, but after a few weeks I got the hang of it and felt like I was seeing results. I'm a few months in now and my stomach looks better than it has in several bikini seasons."