4 Weeks to Maui – TRX RIPping It

We all put great effort into preparing ourselves for our favorite sports and standup paddlers are no exception.  WE research the best paddles and boards until we make our decision to purchase.  Our first attempts at paddling lack the refinement that generates the best results and the most fun, so we seek training.  Fortunately for us, Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui suggested that we use the TRX RIP Training and suspension method – and after 4 weeks we can see the difference that practice has made.

Curious to learn if there were more SUP-specific exercises or recommendation, we contacted Pete Holman who developed the RIP Training method. Pete explained, “I would be able to best advise you after a Physical Therapy evaluation which identifies movement dysfunction, muscular weakness, balance and mobility issues. Additionally, if you have not taken the 8 hour Rip Training Course (RTC,) I HIGHLY recommend it because you will learn ways to progress and regress Rip Training exercises according to your needs.”

I have had 5 knee surgeries and am no stranger to PT and the guidance of a physical therapist. With that, I still managed to use the RIP Trainer inappropriately for my current condition. I have no excuse. The included dvd is incredibly thorough, mindful and full of guidance and alternate moves for every fitness level.

Silly me! I tried to do the squat moves on a large balance cushion while being torqued asymmetrically – bad idea. Pete agreed, that was not the way to adjust a personal training routine. It is important for the individual to “own” the movement required in each of the carefully designed exercises in the TRX program before altering them.

After my little foray into truly poor form, I let my knees recover and then began the program again.  This time I performed each of the squat motions in a controlled manner as explained in the excellent training dvd (included).  Now,I may be protecting myself from future injury, particularly during skiing.  I do make sure my knee tracks over my toes. I also stop the bend at the point of pain. Paying attention to detail allows optimal training sessions and results.

First question: Do you have modifications or suggestions for doing the RIP Trainer moves that minimize the squat, yet still engage the core and provide adequate intensity?

Modifying depth of squat is the best way to alleviate flexion/extension loads through the knee joints. Much of the strengthening of squat based exercises (such as the Rip Pitchfork, Rip Squat Row, Rip Squat Press, etc.,) come from co-contraction of the knee flexors and extensors (hamstrings/quads.) Thus, range of motion isn’t critical; what is critical is knee alignment and precise, fluid movement patterns. For ACL injury prevention or recovery, the hamstring muscles are of HUGE importance so any exercises which face the anchor are excellent because they activate the posterior chain (hamstrings, gluteus, spinal erectors, etc.) more preferentially. ANY Rip Training exercise, if performed properly, engages the core. Focus on maintaining perfect posture, balance and stability. Even just holding isometric positions while facing away from, facing or sidefacing the anchor will be excellent for core strength and stability.  

I explained to Pete that I have started doing a few of the RIP Trainer exercises on the Gigante cushion with an Indo Rocker board. Sometimes the front foot is on the cushion/board while the back foot is on the floor. Sometimes I have both feet on the Indo board (it would be rocking left/right not forward back) in the wide stance.  I notice that when I do the exercises this way I feel more core, have to concentrate more on neutral spine and do the movement more slowly. I do the exercise on the Indo board in addition to doing them on the floor. Since my training is meant for SUP it makes sense for the added balance challenge. I asked if Pete had comments or insights on this?

Pete replied, “Training on labile surfaces (BOSU, Rocker boards, Indo’s, etc.,) is great for proprioception and improving balance. Keep in mind, the asymmetrical loading of the Rip Trainer provides a balance challenge in itself, so I would really “own” the movements prior to adding increased balanced challenges.” From my experience, I absolutely agree with that advice. When a standup paddler really takes the time, focus and effort to refine the stroke technique, when doing TRX training, refining focus and technique also delivers the best results and experience.

Upper body endurance in which the core and lats are moving through a motion with some resistance is crucial to off-season,  off the water training.  It is starting to be too cold to paddle regularly here in OR – as in most of the country. I asked Pete, “Is there a series of moves that one might do over a period of 10-15 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds, for that strength endurance? I would love to work in that direction with the training.”

Pete suggests, “The Rip Paddle Board Row is a great exercise which can be performed at slower speeds with less resistance to simulate SUP (see attached images). You can alternate from right to left sides (changing power and base hands,) every minute and you can also change your stance from parallel to staggered to work different muscles over the 15 minute time period. This is a simple endurance workout which can challenge users at any level and really “maps” well to the movements of SUP.


Overall Benefits of TRX RIP Training (check out the video):

  • Improved lean muscle mass
  • Improved balance
  • Increased flexibility
  • Enhanced core stability
  • Improved endurance

Training on the TRX requires your core to be active and engaged during the entire training session. The functional and dynamic movements performed using the TRX all require the core to stabilize and balance the body. For example, while performing a bicep curl with the TRX, you must engage your core to stabilize your body. You work the specific muscle, but are also working ALL of your core muscles at the same time. There is no need to spend extra time doing hundreds of crunches, or back extensions. Grab some straps and train like a Navy Seal to change your body and keep it ready for SUP all year long!

TRX Rip Trainer Day 4

It looks simple, in reality it’s GENIUS!

First of all, what is the Rip Trainer? Well, it consists of a resistance cord attached to a pole. You get a workout DVD and guide and a door anchor which works really well. If you have a door (or a tree or a banister) you have a fix point.  In summer and fall we will use the TRX Rip Trainer in our garage, but during the winter we will bring it into the house where there is HEAT! We can easily move our training are to any room with a door and adequate space for moving.

Our first step was to watch the DVD included in the purchase. We buy a lot of fitness and sports equipment. Too often the DVD training is less than stellar. We were 10 – star impressed with the professionalism and information shared by each of the experts in the DVD. While too many knee and shoulder surgeries have provide us with lots of insights on rehab and the physiology of the body, the careful explanation of how the spine works and why the TRX system provides movement challenges in many different planes of motion was enlightening. 

It wasn’t long after watching the dvd that we set out to do the Beginner Workout. After the warm-up we did a few planks, a practice we like for controlled rotation using the entire body. Next we were ready for a session of producing rotation with the RIP Trainer. As Ed is returning to standup paddling after 5 months of shoulder rehab, mitigating the risk of future injury is a top priority. The expert guidance throughout the beginner workout was exactly the confidence-building we wanted.

This is certainly NOT to say that the beginner workout was easy-breezy. It’s incredible how versatile the workout intensity can be. Simply increasing the frequency of the movement or stepping further from the fixation point of the cord UPs the intensity. Both the spiral movement patterns and the unbalanced rotation of the force provided a controlled activity that worked the core and specific parts of the anatomy safely. As we are learning how complex even the easy to follow exercises are, we moved relatively slowly during our first session.

As the weather is turning cooler here in Oregon we won’t be able to get into the water as often as we like. For me, simply standing on my board in bare feet is fun. I love to practice balancing on my Indo  board with its smaller roller. With the addition of the TRX RIP Trainer to our workout area I decided to try using the Gigante cushion with the Indo board as the platform for trying some of the TRX training moves. I am absolutely NOT a fan of sit-ups.

After a summer of paddling an hour or so 5 days a week I gained solid evidence of SUP as an ab exercise that delivers core strength and balance. What a foundation! In order not to lose that foundation during cooler months I decided to combine some moves. I fixed the TRX RIP Trainer a bit lower than usual (with the door connection, included). Standing in a stance with feet parallel on the Indo board on the Gigante cushion facing the door, I began to mimic paddle strokes. My lower hand was closest to the cord, on the low end of the “paddle.”  Slow and steady didn’t seem like much of a workout until the next day – wow! Quads and abs, even my lats were definitely worked! Be sure to do the same movements on each side for symmetry.

I have been following some great training suggestions on Suzie Cooney’s blog so I decided to quickly review some of her tips for using the TRX. If you search through the site you’ll find solid information and have the ability to connect for a custom session via Skype.