Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Product Review: TRX Rip Trainer

Every month at the gym I train at, we have a trainers meeting. This is pretty standard fare and we often cover everything from what's happening at the gym that month to having guest speakers or product demo's. This month we had a representative from TRX come into the gym and demo the Rip Trainer.


I'll admit that I was immediately off-put a little bit because the rep reminded me of someone that I really really don't like. He also immediately started talking about how sport specific this tool is and how you can use it with anyone from de-conditioned gen-pop clients to athletes of all levels. The notion of "sport specificity" is as general and useless a term as "functional training" so my bullshit meter immediately went off. 

Turns out that the guy was ok, and just a little bit cheesy. He played some gawd awful techno crap while we used the equipment and was just a little too enthusiastic about the whole thing. 

The equipment itself is simply a Gray Cook bar attached to a Slastix band. Simple and effective. It more or less replicates a keiser or cable machine wherever you go without one. The bands come in light, medium, heavy and very heavy resistance just like a normal super band. 

The trainer took us through a series of exercises that ranged from simple asymmetrically loaded rows and presses to anti-rotation stability to ballistic swings and jumps. My heart rate got going, I was sweaty and some of the exercises were pretty challenging. Since we were working in partners I almost exclusively forgot to do my right side, so my left side felt really fucking weird. 

What'd I end up thinking about it? It was ok, to be honest. I can 100% find an application for a tool like this...in a limited quantity. It's just another tool in the toolbox for me. I wouldn't dream of using it for an entire training session and I don't think I'd ever have anyone, especially an athlete, do anything explosive with this. For that matter, squatting with it felt awful because it changed my (normally gorgeous) squat pattern. 

The guy talked a ton about sport specificity and how he used this all the time with tennis, hockey and lacrosse players. He showed us how to swing the bar like you would use one of the implements for that sport; which is dumb. Mimicking a sporting movement with a weighted/resisted implement really just serves to change the very specific pattern that has been ingrained in an athlete. Even swinging a bat loaded with a donut has proved inefficient. Don't try dumb shit like this either.


What would I use it for? If I were training a client at a poorly equipped gym or outside at a park, I would certainly bring a Rip Trainer so that I could do some rotary stability work with them. I could also see myself using it in a gym in place of a cable machine for a different training effect on a few stability and rowing exercises. I'd also prefer to use it 1-on-1 or with as little as 2-3 clients; having 8 people using these things at once is terrifying to me and seems like a good way for someone to get hurt.

Final verdict: meh. It's a cool gimmick, but not something I would consider for anyone serious about training. Now, go lift something heavy and be awesome today!

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