What Are You Measuring?

Well, hopefully something.

But the better question might actually be…

What aren’t you measuring?

Because there may be a few variables out there that you haven’t been paying any attention to that could have drastic effects on the outcome of your training sessions.


There are many ways you can progress in the gym

This is what they call the “big money” idea. The simple point that you can find evidence for improvements in the gym besides just using heavier weights or doing more reps. Not that there’s anything wrong with using heavier weights or doing more reps, just that it’s important to understand other forms of progression.

Keep in mind that the qualities you seek to improve the most will be the ones most closely related to your training goals. For example, heavier weights for strength, more reps for endurance, or better technique for performance. It’s really not even that black and white though. All of the examples will overlap and feed off of one another. Ideally, you would seek to improve all of them while specializing a bit more in one or two areas of your choice.

We shall begin with the obvious…

Doing more reps

Perhaps the most universally common method of progressive overload, and for good reason:  It works! Do 15 pushups instead of 12. Do 25 squats instead of 20. Push a 45 pound bar over your head 10 times instead of 8.

When you do more repetitions you are creating a new stimulus for the body to adapt to. The human organism is very efficient, and therefore will not change unless your force it. If you went the the gym and did 10 lunges on each leg everyday for five years straight, do you think your legs would look a whole lot different after those five years? I’m banking that they wouldn’t, because they already adapted to the stress of those 10 lunges a looooong time ago.

Doing more sets

An extension of the whole rep thing since you can’t exactly continue to add reps for the rest of your life. Most people that have been training for at least 5-10 years aren’t doing sets of 100 when they used to do sets of 10. The bulk of your training will likely be done in sets of 5 to 25. If you did 3 sets of 12 reps in any given movement, you would be progressively overloading the system (your body) if you did 4 sets of 12 the next time using the same weight.


Using more resistance for the same amount of reps and sets

Another classic overload scheme. Up the poundage! This is the moment where you go for those twenty pound dumbbells and say “fuck you” to the fifteens. It’s where you slap another couple of fives on the barbell. It’s truly a great moment in your workout.

Please note the whole “same amount of reps and sets” thing, because it matters. Say you bench pressed 25 pound dumbbells 12 times. You did 600 (12*50) pounds of “work” in that set. Say you then tried the 35 pound dumbbells but could only muster 8. For that set you come out to 560 (8*70) pounds of work, even though the set may have felt more physically fatiguing. On top of that, if you were less confident with the 35s and as a result stopped the eccentric motion and inch higher each rep, you would have done even less work.

Note:  The actual physics equation for work is force multiplied by displacement (distance). For training measurement purposes we essentially multiply that equation by the number of reps performed, assuming each rep contained the same displacment. I know it’s not perfect 🙂

Resting less between sets

This is a great one that tends to get overlooked. All you need is something to time your rest periods with. The implement doesn’t matter; stopwatch, clock, super advanced iPhone timer app thingy, anything that times!!!

The only thing to watch out for with decreasing rest periods is when you’re dealing with super heavy weight, as in 85-90% or more of your one-rep max for a given movement. For most people this isn’t going to be a huge issue, but if you’re someone who likes to go for the heavy 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s just be aware that 30 seconds of rest ain’t gonna cut it.

On the other hand, resting for 60 seconds instead of 90 after a moderately hard set of 8 reps in any given movement is a much more appropriate progression. This can also be easily applied to cardiovascular training, like resting less between 200 meter rows or quarter mile bike intervals.

Using less effort to lift the same weight for the same amount of reps and sets

Probably the most overlooked and in my opinion THE most important as you get more advanced in the training process. This one is huge in terms of joint health and longevity. It’s also unique because “less effort” is an indirect side effect of improving a bunch of other things.

Less effort can most effectively be achieved through increasing range of motion at your joints. If they have more capacity for movement, it will make it easier to get into the positions your exercises require. As a result, your technique or form on any given exercise should improve.

Using more efficient technique means you won’t have to work as hard to lift the same weight. This is a very good thing because you can still achieve the desired training stimulus without negatively stressing any piece of the system.

The goal should be to produce the largest amount force with the least amount of strain on your joints. You should attempt to train in positions that help you maximize this relationship, as well as train to improve specific joint capabilities in the process.


Let us review

  • Understand that progression comes in many forms
  • Start by doing more reps and sets per exercise 
  • Build on increased sets and reps by using more resistance and/or heavier weights
  • Don’t forget that resting less between exercise sets is an often overlooked method of progression
  • Strive to use less effort to do the same amount of work as training experience increases
  • Train to maintain and expand the capabilities of your joints









Reviewing the Functional Range Conditioning Seminar

A couple months ago I attended a continuing education course under Functional Anatomy Seminars. This particular course is known as Functional Range Conditioning or “FRC” for short. Overall it was a fantastic experience and something I’d like to share with as many people as possible.

As a trainer I’ve already had great success implementing the principles of the system with my clients about eight weeks post-certification. Having this tool available can dramatically increase your effectiveness as a physical therapist, sport coach, athletic trainer or other profession that deals with improving human movement.

The system was created by a guy named Andreo Spina. He’s a brilliant individual with a rather “outside the box” approach when it comes to mobility training. His system is extremely well researched and uses sound logic to illustrate the concepts within. You can already get a very clear idea of some of these things by checking out his YouTube page.


At it’s core, FRC attempts to increase a persons active, usable ranges of motion at every joint or articulation within the body. What you need to understand first and foremost is the difference between active vs. passive ranges of motion and mobility vs. flexibility.

An active range of motion is a range that you can achieve internally without external force. A passive range of motion is a range that you can still achieve, but without internal control and only through the help of external forces acting on the body. This would be the difference between holding your leg up in the air as high as you can, compared to picking it up and putting it on a table as high as you can. As you’d probably expect, the table will allow you to get much higher.

In other words, mobility is what you can achieve actively. And flexibility is what you can achieve flexibility. Sure, more flexibility can be a good thing, but you should really be focused on improving or expanding your joint mobility above all things.

More mobility means more strength, neurological control, and resilience at each joint that has been trained. These enhancements can lead to better performance through increased movement capability and less injuries through increased stress tolerance.


I’ll let you look into the system further if you want. You can also check out Functional Anatomy Seminars for more information.




Using Band Resistance to Coach the Single-Leg Hip Hinge

If you’re unfamiliar with what a hip hinge is, it’s not too difficult to understand.

It’s a movement where you bend over from the hips. When done properly, the hip joint should actually shift backwards while the knee joints stay where they are in a slightly bent position.

The deadlift exercise closely resembles what a hip hinge should look like.

Watch what my hips and knees do as I begin to lower the bar:
  • The hips are gradually pushing backwards in space
  • The knees aren’t moving a whole lot
  • The head lowers with the rest of the spine in one stable segment

This movement pattern is seen in many more exercises beyond the standard barbell deadlift. If you can master it early on in training, you are going to have a much easier time learning new exercises down the road.

During a good hip hinge, you should feel:
  • A resisted stretch in the back of your thighs (aka your hamstring muscles)
  • A shift of your bodyweight toward your heels (aka a posterior weight shift)
  • A slight hint of muscle tension in the low back or lower spinal erectors (but not pain or significant soreness)


To take the hip hinge a step further, we can do it on one leg at a time 🙂

The single leg hip hinge, better known as the single leg Romanian deadlift (SLRDL on my training programs), is significantly more difficult to perform well. It’s a skill that will take most folks months to perform a reasonably decent level. Occasionally I will encounter an athlete or general population client who can nail it on the first workout, but they are few and far between.

One thing that’s really difficult to feel in the single leg version (and even on two legs it can be for some) is that whole “posterior weight shift” thing. In my coaching experience it seems the most common error throughout the movement is the athlete or client becoming too top heavy and falling forward onto the toes of the feet, therefore losing control of the body and falling to either side.

By using a resistance band we can give the trainee something that provides just enough stability to guide them through the movement without falling. As long as your keeping the band in a stretched position, you’ll be able to grab onto it a little bit harder if you need to catch yourself during the exercise. When you regain your balance, the band will simply pull you into the position we’re looking for. Here’s what a few good reps look like with a half inch thick light band:




I’ve had great success with this one for people who struggle to feel their weight shift posteriorly during the movement. There are so many variations of this exercise that I would encourage you to try as many as possible to find what feels best. The band variation is only one of probably 5-6 other variations I frequently use in my training programs.

A few key cues to get the most of it:

  • Make sure you’re far enough away from the anchor point that the band will not lose tension (aka will not slack) when you’re in a fully bent over position.
  • Make sure you get the working hip (the hip of the grounded leg) into full extension at the end of the movement, This means you should thrust forward and squeeze your butt cheeks at the top of each rep.
  • Attempt to keep your hips and entire pelvic structure as flat as possible throughout the exercises. This means there shouldn’t be a whole lot of tilting to either side. It’s not going to look great at first, but you will improve.
  • Attempt to keep your low back and lumber spine area in a slightly arched position as body becomes increasingly horizontal. It may be difficult to feel and you may be slightly rounded over when you are first learning the movement.
  • If you’re still having trouble shifting back at this point, try adding just a little bit more knee bend on the ground leg. Imagine that you’re going to push the bottom of your opposite foot straight through a wall behind you.


Try it out and let me know what you think!

What You Need to Remember About Your Health and Fitness Goals

Of course this is assuming you already have goals.

Expecting to see change without concrete goals in mind?

You may want to figure those out ASAP 🙂


This post, however, can be a very valuable guide to read before actually creating those “goal” thingies.

You see, people start their own journeys into the world of health and fitness with a whole lot of misconceptions and unrealistic expectations about what it takes to look a certain way.

It is essential that you understand the process before you begin the journey. In my experience the vast majority of people are expecting to reach their goals with an inadequate amount of time and effort than it will actually take to reach said goal.

Because of this frequently occurring issue, I generally make one important statement to them up front about what to really expect throughout the transformation experience:

Most health and fitness goal you develop are more than likely going to take longer than you want or expect them to.

In other words don’t expect 20 years of a sedentary lifestyle (very little physical activity) combined with poor nutritional habits (eating in excess, choosing low quality and highly palatable foods with poor nutritional profiles) to be totally reversed in a matter of six months.

Understand that what took years to develop may (and probably will) take years to reverse. Creating your own sustainable healthy lifestyle is much easier said than done. It will undoubtedly require discomfort and probably a little bit of pain along the way, but you’re the one who thought of the goal. If you want it, you’ll do what you have to do to get it.

You must learn to love the process. Let the results come later.



The Good Stuff: Volume 2

Volume 2!!!

Heck yeah. It’s only been 25 years since volume 1 was published.

Anyway, here’s some real good health and fitness content I’ve come across recently.


The Complete Strength Training Guide from Greg Nuckols

I’m a fan of 99.99% of what Greg Nuckols writes. His site Strength Theory is one of the best fitness resources in the iron game right now. In this guide you will find just about everything important you need to know in order to make gains as a beginning, intermediate, or advanced lifter.


Why We Are All Inherently Potheads from Andreo Spina

Don’t let the title sway you. If you’ve never heard of the endocannibinoid system, you should find this one fascinating.


42 Tips for More Muscle, Less Fat, and More Fun from Bryan Krahn

Bryan is a brilliant writer and his articles are always fun to read. When it comes to “X number of tips for Y purpose” articles, they tend to get a little bit diluted as the number grows. In this case, all 42 of them are practical and simple to implement. Great read!


Warmup and Motor Concepts from Charlie Weingroff

I had the opportunity to see Charlie speak at the NSCA National Conference this year and he was absolutely fantastic. A very engaging presenter presenter to say the least. In this post he gives us an important reminder of what key factors our warmups are actually supposed to serve before a training session.


Hacking the Nervous System from Gaia Vince

I came across this one after a friend shared it on Facebook and was glued to the screen after starting it. In this case, electric stimulation of the vagus nerve could turn out to be a leading method in the way we treat systematic diseases in the future. Mosaic science is full of phenomenal articles similar to this one, so if you’re a science nerd I would highly suggest you bookmark the page!


5 Coaching Cues to Immediately Improve Basic Movements from Dean Somerset

I’ve always appreciated Dean’s approach to coaching and have used each one of these cues before. They are game changers. An excellent read for any trainers who may be having issues getting their clients to move they way they want.


Please enjoy the articles, I think you’ll get a lot out of them!

Until next time, which could be a very long time 🙂


Spinal Mobility and the Cat Camel Exercise

Spinal mobility can be described as the ability to move your vertebral discs through various ranges of motions with adequate control. These can include flexion of the spine (rounding over, such as when you touch your toes), extension of the spine (arching backward, like in a gymnastics back bend), and rotation of the spine (twisting). Performing these movements frequently will be of benefit to you throughout your resistance training regimen.

I use the cat camel with every person I train. It’s one of the first warm-up movements that I’ll introduce someone to who just started an exercise program, and it’s one of the “backbone” warm-up movements that I’ll continue to use with someone as they get more advanced in the training process. A great exercise for all levels of fitness.

Visualize your back as a series of segments that have the ability to move as independent pieces. As you perform the exercise you will attempt to move the structure one vertebrae at a time. Whether or not this is actually what’s occurring is of less importance than the effort and visualization of doing it (hint: you can’t actually segment the spine, but it helps with the exercise to act as if you can).

Take your time with this movement. Explore different angles and be creative with it. There is no right or wrong way of doing this exercise as long as you’re moving the joints effectively.

Some helpful cues:

  • Don’t be a speed racer, this is an intentionally slower moving pattern.
  • During the camel phase (rounded back), think about pulling your butt under your stomach, pushing your shoulder blades straight into the ground, and tucking your chin to your chest.
  • During the cat phase (arched back), think about perking your butt out high, letting your chest cavity and ribcage “fall” through the shoulder blades, and pulling the top of your head up through the ceiling.
  • As always, stick to pain free ranges of motion. Avoid positions that elicit a pain response and work only in the positions that you can comfortably control.

You can use this one at the very beginning of a workout, as an active rest in between a more strenuous compound movement (bench press, deadlift), or at the end of a session for more of a cool down or relaxation purpose.

Now take this information and get to cat-camelling!



Observations from My First Year of Personal Training

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve said anything on this stupid website of mine. I am very sorry to the people responsible for the ten or so random page views I get on a daily basis. Sure I’ve been busy with other things that take priority of blogging, but I think the writing practice is really healthy for me and something I need to do more of. With this post I want to kind of reflect on the past year that has been very successful for me professionally.

I started 2014 with a nice little schedule for myself that consisted of 6-10 clients per week stretched out over Monday-Saturday. This was a great starting point and a perfect way for me to ease into the nature of the work. I had already been shadowing with the other trainers at my gym since mid-September 2013. This was also very helpful as I had a couple of months to hang out around the gym and get comfortable talking to the many clients that are in and out the door each day.

My schedule picked up pretty quickly in the next month or so, and by the end of February I was training more in the ballpark of 12-16 clients each week. Once summertime hit, things really started to pickup and my schedule grew consistently more hectic and random. Throughout the majority of the summer and the rest of the year, I would train anywhere from 15-35 clients during any given week. Most of the time that range was probably closer to 18-24, which is definitely busy but still a very reasonable workload.

I remember reading in a Jon Goodman book (Ignite the Fire) that once you start to get over 30ish training hours per week, the quality of your services will probably begin to diminish over time. This isn’t to say that your first 30 sessions of the week are great and anything after are bad, but just pointing out that training 30 or more sessions per week consistently will be extremely difficult to sustain without feeling burnt out.

Throughout this past year I’ve probably averaged right around 20 per week. This is sustainable and enjoyable for me even when combined with the responsibility of part-time university classes. There have been weeks where I’ve trained over 25 or even over 30 sessions, and the difference in workload is quite noticeable. Even though I love to have those super busy weeks every once in awhile, I’m much more comfortable in that 20-25 range. It’s the perfect amount of work to keep your coaching and programming quality high while also allowing you time for your own workouts and personal enrichment (like continuing education). It’s also important to me to have some good old fashioned down time to relax and rest, which I think is often overlooked and critical to your long-term health and happiness.

Overall I’ve been more than satisfied with my first year of experience as a trainer. I work with some incredible people that I’ve learned a great deal from. They are caring people that I can easily enjoy being around outside of the gym.

The same goes for our clients at ASAP. I must admit I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of generosity our clients displayed this holiday season. Just to give you an idea, here’s what I received:

  • Malley’s chocolate covered pretzels
  • 6-pack of Great Lakes Christmas Ale
  • $50 amazon gift card
  • $50 Market gift card
  • $20 cash
  • $22 Sweet Melissa’s gift card (this one was for my 22nd birthday on Jan. 4th)
  • Several holiday cards/photos

This much appreciation was extremely satisfying and motivating. The quality of the relationships that I have with our clients is probably my favorite perk of personal training. It’s amazing how much you get to know some folks over time from simply spending 2-3 hours a week with them.

I’m certainly looking forward to the future as my team and I continue to grow and learn each day at ASAP Fitness. Every training session is an opportunity to become a better coach 🙂





Why Everything Always Depends

It’s the middle of the summer and life is great. I’m coaching a lot of people and getting better all the time. I’m thinking of some really cool ideas to write about and slowly (but surely) getting these ideas out of my head. My progress in the full olympic lifts is coming along pretty well, and my aesthetics continue improve without any concentrated effort.

For the general gym-goer looking to maintain a decent physique while pushing some decent weights around, this stuff really isn’t all that complicated. What you’ll usually come to find, however, is that the industry as a whole is really good at making things really complicated. As a result, the general population is essentially overloaded with conflicting ideas of what works and what doesn’t.

All this information certainly isn’t a bad thing, but for those who are just starting their journey to increased health and fitness it can be a major issue. The last thing I want as a fitness professional is more absolute, black and white thinking about exercise selection and contrasting training styles. The more we send messages like “leg extensions suck therefore everyone should do full barbell back squats” the deeper of a whole we dig for ourselves. Statements like these are certainly desirable under the right context, but unfortunately that context isn’t appropriate for everybody who wants to start lifting.

For what it’s worth, a very small number of our clients at ASAP Fitness perform leg extensions, mainly as a warm-up for the knees and quads with lighter loads and higher reps. On the other hand, a very small number of our clients perform deep barbell back squats, mainly for athletic purposes or a general ability to perform the exercise well. Almost ALL of our clients fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, mainly performing anterior loaded squat variations with moderate loads for moderate reps.

Back squatting is my favorite exercise. In a perfect world I’d be able to teach people how to perform deep ass barbell squats in one session and they’d be able to do it well and never get injured. Whether it’s due to anatomical restrictions, injury history, time constraints, whatever – it’s just not happening. A much more sensible and safe approach is to attempt to fit exercises to people rather than trying to fit people to any particular exercises. This is why we have variations and modifications on top of those variations, because they help us to effectively train a squat pattern in the most appropriate way for us. 

But we cannot forget about context, as it applies to everything we choose to do in the gym. If you were to start training at a very “weightlifting friendly” facility with tons of platforms and bumper plates and squat stands, you should understand that you’re going to be back squatting frequently. This type of environment probably isn’t the most appropriate setting for a 55 year old business owner who only has two hours a week to train and a long history of lower body injuries. On the other hand a college student who plays pick up sports and carries a solid frame might thrive in this type of environment.

Dan John has said it time and time again: “Everything works.” Because it does. Every style of training has an effect. Every exercise may have value under the right circumstances. What’s “good” for you may ultimately be “bad” for someone else.

Nobody knows you better than you. But you’d be lying if you said you know everything about yourself. And this is why you must experiment. The more you train, the more you’ll understand what you like and what feels good. When you find things that you like and that feel good to your body, you’ll probably tend to do them with greater consistency. The more consistently you train these things, the more efficient you’ll become at doing them. If you can sustain these behaviors for an extended period of time, you will progress.

Nobody really cares what it is. But you should. You should care enough that you’re willing to put forth maximal effort to improve at it. I like powerlifting and weightlifting. Other people like triathlons. Some like martial arts. Others just like to lift, it doesn’t matter. Find some physically challenging activities that you sincerely enjoy and you’re off to a great start.

Of course there will be resources like myself along the way to assist you, but this is your time to shine. Don’t let anyone stand in your way. And when all else fails, just keep training.









The Good Stuff: Volume 1



The best fitness stuff I’ve seen recently 🙂

Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger? by David Epstein

This is an incredibly interesting talk that brings up some impressive and thought-provoking points. Although our training and physical preparation methods have obviously advanced with time, are we absolutely sure that what we’re currently doing is working as well as we think it is? You might feel a little bit differently about it after watching the video.


David Epstein’s Ted Talk Makes Me Wonder If We’re On The Right Track by Jim Kielbaso

Staying on the same topic, here’s a really good response to the video above from Jim Kielbaso.

How Deep Down the Rabbit Hole Do We Really Need to Go? by Tony Gentilcore

Here’s a tweet from Tony that sums up the entire article:

“I like PRI. I use PRI. But man, I really wish some trainers and coaches would tone it down a notch and just get people strong.”

A nice reminder from Tony. Don’t get carried away trying to use EVERY tool you have available, because most people are going to be fine with the basics. Push, pull, squat, hinge and carry stuff and you will improve. If you consistently get stronger at doing these things you may find that some of your “weaknesses” or “imbalances” tend to clear up over time. However, if 6-12 months of consistent training go by and you’re still noticing some problems it might be time to dig a little deeper in the toolbox (for example, using PRI – postural restoration institute – based methods and exercises to improve hip range of motion capacity). Just remember that you can make a lot of positive changes to connective tissue by simply strengthening particular joints and the surrounding structures.

Technique Nazis Will Hate This Post by Dean Somerset

I really enjoyed this post from Dean because it stressed the importance of context in training and exercise selection. We must remember that there is no such thing as “bad” movement because there are an infinite amount of capacities for movement. If you are trying to perform things that are outside of your capacity for movement, then yes that is probably a “bad” position for you. If you encounter an untrained position under load or at high velocities, there is probably a greater chance that you’ll get injured in that position. However, if you were train that unexplored capacity through safe and logical exercise progressions, you may gain the capacity to safely put your body in such positions.

What’s Obvious, Important, And How Is It Connected? by Pat Davidson

This is my favorite of the bunch. A quick summary here isn’t even necessary, just read it!


And here’s a couple of random training videos from that past month or so!

A heavy clean, some back squats and a little barbell complex.


Power clean + hang clean, a 5RM back squat against chains, and some higher rep benching.

One of my favorite new warm-up/mobility exercises: Band Overhead Squat!


I hope you enjoyed the material!


TRX Pulling Progressions

If you’ve been to any decently equipped gyms in the past five years or so, it’s likely that you’ve seen those infamous black and yellow straps hanging from a high bar or a wall attachment. Those straps have quickly become one of the most widely used pieces of equipment on the market, and for good reason!

What I’m referring to is the “TRX Suspension Trainer.” Maybe you’ve seen and/or used one before, but if not it’s a pretty simple concept. Suspension training in general can be a great tool for developing well rounded athletes, and it just so happens that the TRX is probably the best product out there for it. However, keep it in mind that there are several other suspension trainers on the market that will work just as well for the exercises I’m about to outline here. I’ll admit that I’m totally biased toward the TRX specifically because it’s durable as heck and nearly effortless to adjust. It’s also easy to modify movements in order to make them appropriate for many different levels of fitness.

As with all other accessories in strength training, it’s important to remember that the TRX and other related products are simply just another tool for your toolbox. There are situations when it will be advantageous to use a suspension trainer and situations where it may not be necessary or effective. For me and my clients, I think pulling movements tend to work especially well with a suspension trainer and therefore I program them pretty frequently.

What I like most is that the straps allow the wrists to rotate freely from pronation (think overhead grip) to supination (think underhand grip). Although this is a subtle detail for pulling exercises, allowing the wrists to move freely just tends to feel better on the elbows and shoulders. Based off of feedback from my clients, that free rotation also helps people locate where they want to be feeling the tension from the exercise. In general, it’s not easy for beginners to get the mid-upper back and lats involved during both horizontal and pulling movements, but allowing rotation from the wrists seems to emphasize pulling through the back.

If you have trouble feeling your back muscles or tend to ONLY feel pulling movements in the biceps and forearms, this may be perfect for you!


Generally a good place to start if you’ve never used these straps before. Try to find a resistance that’s going to give you a relatively moderate challenge for about 10 to 15 repetitions. In the video I demonstrate a few reps at a steeper incline (more inverted position = more resistance) and then a few reps from a more vertical starting position.

TRX Assisted Pull-up

Similar to the standard TRX row, only we’re aiming to make this one more of a vertical pull. You want the straps to be hanging straight down, and you want to use your legs only just enough the make the exercise challenging but doable. I generally use sets of 8 with my clients and cue them to “pull the chest to the sky.”

TRX Single-Arm Row

This one is actually more of an anti-rotational core exercises than it is a horizontal pull, but you should still be getting some good lat activation out of it. Most importantly, don’t let that opposite shoulder drop! You must fight to keep your shoulders and belly button squared straight ahead throughout the full range of motion while maintaining good control. If you do it well, this should be challenging no matter how advanced your level of fitness may be.

TRX Decline Inverted Row

A simple progression from standard TRX inverted rows would be to elevate your feet thereby forcing you to lift more of your own body weight. The higher you elevate your feet, the more resistance you’ll need to pull against. In this case, I’m using a plyo box that actually raises my feet above my shoulders, making this a “decline” inverted row. My form here isn’t amazing either as I’d actually prefer to see the hips a little bit more extended, but it’s not that big of a deal.

TRX Wide Grip Pull-up

LOVE this variation. Definitely advanced, but if you can perform it well I think you’ll really like how hard it targets the lats and rear delts.

TRX L-Sit Pull-up

If you’re really hungry for a challenge, throw your legs out in front and hold em’ there. Need more?? Throw a 20 pound chain around your neck for even more fun 🙂


One more point: This is NOT an all-inclusive list!

There are dozens and dozens of pulling variations you can do with a TRX, but this is a pretty good handful to keep you satisfied for awhile. The standard TRX row and TRX assisted pull-up are exercises that I frequently go back to and use with my clients because they’re easy to modify and easy to perform well. Above all, I think you’ll appreciate these movements for their “joint friendliness” and simplicity.

And finally, don’t forget about all the other amazing pulls out there. I still love all types of cable rows/pulldowns as well as dumbbell, barbell, and landmine pulling variations. There is a time and place for all of those exercises, but in my experience, TRX pulls feel good, look good, and are easy to perform well by a broad variety of people. Take some time to experiment with these variations and I think you’ll probably agree!