20-Minute Workout: TRX
Build total-body strength and shore up your metabolism—fast.
While you can carve a tantalizingly toned body in less than a half hour, we’re here to tell you what you already know: To reap the rewards—increased calorie burn, strength, power, blissful endorphin high—truncated workouts must be insanely intense. So we asked a team of Equinox trainers and group fitness instructors what they would do if they were given just 20 minutes to have at it. Here is the latest in the series:
The Pro: Sam Rothermel, a group fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City
The Workout: The TRX is a take-anywhere tool that can bulletproof your muscles and joints, says Rothermel. “By allowing you to work against gravity, the TRX will show and expose the muscular strengths and weaknesses in your body,” she notes. You can use that intel to progress or regress certain movements. “This could be as simple as walking the feet in towards the anchor point in an inversion to make it easier, or adding in plyometrics for additional cardiovascular benefits.”
But regardless of how "easy" or hard you make it for yourself, this routine guarantees core engagement from all angles and strength challenges for your larger muscle groups—all with a reduced impact on the joints. “These movement patterns alternate between lower body, upper body, and core focuses to create a well-balanced routine that incorporates all three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse,” says Rothermel. “By beginning the workout with a plyometric pattern, the goal is to generate some heat, or a metabolic spike, as movements transition down to the floor and back to standing again.”
The bottom line: “In 20 minutes, you should not only feel as if you've worked up a sweat, but also that your muscles have been strengthened by precise movements," says Rothermel.
Warm-Up: Perform 10 reps of each of the following moves in order.
1. Squat to Row
Facing the anchor point, grab a handle in each hand. Extend arms to shoulder height, palms facing down. Initiate the squat by bending the knees and sinking the glutes in line with the hips at a 90-degree angle. Press through the heels to stand and draw the elbows in line with the shoulders by squeezing through the upper back.
2. Forward Lunge with Chest Fly
Facing away from the anchor point, grab a handle in each hand with palms facing in. Step forward with the left foot and bend both of the knees, keeping the front knee tracking over the ankle. While lunging forward, keep a slight bend through the elbows while extending the arms to either side of the chest. Spring off the front foot and return to standing. Bring arms back to their starting position in front of the chest. Repeat with the right leg.
3. Forward Lunge with T-Spine Rotation
Facing away from the anchor point, grab a handle in each hand. Step forward with the left foot, bending both of the knees to 90 degrees. Sweep left arm down in line with the left hip and reach right arm up to the ceiling as the spine twists to left. Return to starting position and repeat on the right.
Circuit: Perform each exercise for one minute in a circuit fashion for three rounds total. Take one minute of rest between circuits and little to no rest between moves.
1. Plyometric Lunge into Pistol Squat
Facing the anchor point, hold a handle in each hand with palms facing down. Take a step back with the right ball of the foot and bend both of the knees to complete a reverse lunge. Spring off the ball of the right foot and sweep the left leg into hip flexion. End in a single leg squat on the left leg. Repeat motion for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
2. Half-Kneeling Side Press into Forward Press
Start with the left hip in alignment with the anchor point. Stack left foot under the left bent knee and right knee under the right hip. Interlock the handles and hold them in the center of the chest with both hands. Press the hands to left as you extend the arms straight, tilting torso towards the center of the room. Brace the core to pull the handles back in towards the center of the chest, returning to the upright position. Press hands forwards as you extend the arms straight, keeping tension through the chest and abs. Pull the arms back in towards the center of the chest. Continue for 30 seconds and switch arms.
3. Lateral Lunge into Curtsy Lunge
Facing the anchor point, extend arms to shoulder height, palms facing down. Step right foot out to the side. Bend the right knee and sink weight into the right hip. Left leg stays straight. Spring off the right foot and cross the right leg back behind the left at a slight diagonal. Bend both knees to complete a curtsy lunge. Continue for 30 seconds with the right leg before switching to the left side.
4. Kneeling Lat Pull-Down
Begin in a kneeling position facing away from the anchor point. Hold a handle in each hand, palms facing down. Extend arms above the head with ears in line with the shoulders. Keep knees under the anchor point, but tilt torso forward. Squeezing through the lats and keeping the core tight, draw the shoulders in and down the back. Pull elbows in tight towards the ribcage before extending the arms back to the starting position.
5. Plank Hip Abduction into Pike
Facing away from the anchor point, rest each foot in a cradle. Stack hands underneath the shoulders in an elevated high plank position. While engaging the core, draw both legs a few inches away from the midline of the body while keeping the hips in line with the shoulders. Use the outer hips and inner thighs to pull the legs back to the starting position. From the high plank, pike the hips towards the ceiling. Squeeze the low abs as you stack hips above the shoulders. Gently extend the legs back to the high plank position.
Metabolic Finisher: Single-Leg Burpee
Facing away from the anchor point, rest the top of the right foot in the cradle. Stack the left foot underneath the left hip. Springing off the ball of the left foot, place the hands on the floor underneath the shoulders and extend the left leg back into a high plank position. Lower the chest towards the floor in a push-up. Extend the arms straight and spring the left ball of the foot off the floor. Stack the left foot underneath the left hip and reach the arms overhead, completing a vertical jump at the end of the movement. This is one rep. Do 10 on each side.