Calisthenics Crossfit

TRX vs. Crossfit: How Are They Different?

Crossfit and TRX are amongst the modern fitness trends. They are both effective in their own right. TRX is merely a calisthenics sort of exercise, whereas Crossfit uses weights apart from bodyweight. We are going to study the nuances of TRX vs. Crossfit to get a proper picture of it.

Both TRX and Crossfit are types of functional training, but they approach functionality in different ways. Crossfit sees functionality as the ability to handle different life situations, including the body’s own weight and external resistances. TRX considers functionality in handling body weight and balance in different situations.

Full-body Workout in TRX vs. Crossfit

The notion of full-body workout refers to the training method that engages all muscle groups in one session of exercise. This type of training is not ideal for mass building purpose, but efficient for those with a shortage of time. Full-body training is usually used in aerobic training systems. It can activate all muscles in one training session and stimulate fat loss. Nonetheless, when it comes to hypertrophy, full-body workout is less efficient than split exercise.

Full-body training method exists in both TRX and Crossfit. However, the difference between Crossfit and TRX is that because of the versatility of TRX, it is quite easy to switch from one exercise to another at no time. TRX is calisthenics equipment, and in calisthenics you take advantage of body weight to achieve fitness goals. In Crossfit, using equipment and weights makes the shift between exercises more time-consuming.

Perhaps some make a difference in TRX vs. calisthenics, since TRX is a piece of equipment whereas calisthenics uses only bodyweight. It is worth noting that even when you use a pull-up bar, you are using equipment.

Is TRX Considered Cross-training?

In the evaluation of TRX vs. Crossfit, cross-training is a concept that can be applied to both, but Cross-training in TRX is not the same as Crossfit. Due to its versatility, TRX provides an efficient way for cross-training. That means, we can use TRX training alongside other sports to improve weaknesses. 

Nevertheless, contrary to Crossfit, which is a training modality, TRX is a tool and not a training method. Hence, we can apply various training systems with TRX, and cross-training can be one of them. We can cross-train between TRX and swimming, TRX and hill-running, etc. 

Functional Training in Crossfit vs. TRX

Functional training (FT) calls attention to performance in action or work. Functional fitness training should improve performance in a specific sport or any characteristic activity of daily life. With that definition, synchronicity of joints, muscles, upper and lower body are all determining elements of a functional fitness regimen.

Crossfit took the resistance training approach from artificial conditions of traditional gym and combined it with real-life activities. Most movements in Crossfit are imitations of real life. On the other hand, TRX imposes its special conditions on the trainee. It facilitates training in full ROM (range of motion) which in many cases is not possible with barbells and dumbbells. Hence, the two training regimens develop two different types of functionality. 

A study published in muscles, ligaments and tendons journal in 2018, examined TRX vs. Crossfit on the subjects of body fat index, strength and explosive power. Two groups of TRXers and Crossfitters were subject to the six months study. Before and after the study, their BMI (body mass index), WHtR (waist-to-heart-ratio) and body fat percentage were evaluated.

The study of Crossfit vs. TRX concluded that both functional training methods improve anthropometric measures and aerobic strength. In addition to that, Crossfit utilizes more explosive strength than TRX. 

Explosive exercises lead to higher power output. This explains why there are different power output capabilities between different strength athletes. 

TRX vs. Crossfit for Burning Fat

The Crossfit vs. TRX study showed significant improvement in WHtR and fat percentage in both groups. There were no statistical differences in aerobic capacity between the two groups. Despite this, the Crossfit group registered a greater increase in VO2max and a greater decrease in the percent of body fat compared to the TRX group. It also revealed that the heart rate in the Crossfit group was higher than the TRX group. 

Body Composition in TRX vs. Crossfit

There are obvious structural differences in body composition between athletes of Crossfit and TRX.

As indicated in the aforementioned TRX vs. Crossfit study, the differences in anthropometric measures between the two groups may be related to these plyometric exercises, such as box jump, wall-ball shots, snatch, clean and jerk in Crossfit. Explosive activities stimulate power output characteristics required in such sports.

Apart from that, TRX relies on bodyweight as opposed to external weight. This change in the center of the mass and angle of pressure results in core-centered body composition.

Body composition in trx vs. Crossfit
Colombian trx trainer practicing trx push-up

HIIT in TRX vs. Crossfit

Even though Crossfit performs across various domains and intensities, for the most part, it is a high-intensity method. HIIT protocol indicates bursts of high-intensity activity, followed by short periods of rest or low-intensity movements.

Further study: Difference between HIIT and CrossFit.

TRX stands for total resistance exercises. It indicates that the equipment is ideally designed for resistance training, while HIIT is usually used in aerobic systems. In addition, it is possible to combine principles of HIIT, Crossfit and TRX and perform a Crossfit TRX WOD. The following is an example of TRX HIIT based on the Crossfit principle.

How to do: This exercise is based on AMRAP principle, which originated from Crossfit.

  • Perform as many rounds as possible. 
  • After each exercise, add jumping squat before starting the next one. 
  • Total time can be up to 30 minutes.
  • Exercise equipment: TRX
Jump Squat8 reps
Bicep Curl8 reps
TRX Row8 reps
TRX Triceps Extension8 reps

Another example: Crossfit – TRX – Tabata

Muscle Building with Crossfit vs. TRX

What matters for the muscles to grow is progressive overload. For the muscle, it does not matter if you produce this tension by lifting a bag of potatoes, weights or pulling TRX straps. Anyway you can put your body in hypertrophy conditions will do the job. In that sense, both TRX and Crossfit can bring about muscle growth.

If we consider TRX as resistance training and reduce cardiovascular activities, it is more efficient in building muscle. Take note that Crossfit involves various domains, and hypertrophy is not the only domain. Nevertheless, in the long run, Crossfit can surpass TRX because it is not limited to body weight.

When it comes to lower body exercises, TRX is at a disadvantage compared to Crossfit. The body weight is insufficient for many lower body exercises, such as for calf muscles. Nonetheless, there are ways around it, such as single-leg squat, using weighted vest and so on.

TRX is core-centric. In almost all exercises, the core is engaged one way or the other. It has exclusive abdominal moves that can sculpt abs from different angles. It is an efficient way to improve hip flexor and back extensor muscles.

Rings vs. TRX for Crossfit

Olympic rings are typically used in Crossfit for the gymnastic part. From functionality standpoint, both gymnastic rings and TRX fulfill the task. TRX handles are more comfortable in hand compared to Olympic rings, and that is because of their shape. It is easier to adjust the length of TRX straps.

You can TRX handles in your hand which makes it possible for good wrist and forearm exercises. Gymnastic rings, on the other hand, are fixed in the hands. You cannot easily twist them which will limit range of motion in some exercises that require flexibility in the wrists.

The major difference between the two is the placement of anchor points. TRX has a single anchor point, whereas Olympic rings have two separate anchor points. For this purpose, we can also use two different pieces of TRX. Single anchor point and double anchor point cause differences in the angle of pressure and the amount of pressure. 

Who Is TRX Good for?

“The best exercise is the one that is always accessible.”

That is the motto of Trainingbodyweight, as you can see on the homepage of this website. TRX is ideal for those who do not have the time or resources for a box (Crossfit gym) membership. The tool is lightweight, small, and easily adjustable to any life condition. 

You can take your TRX straps with you while on a trip. You can practice at home, at gym, indoor and outdoor with minimum space requirement. A fitness fanatic is indisputably unstoppable with this equipment.

In special conditions such as global pandemics when many gyms are closed, TRX is a suitable alternative. TRX is a suspension training that follows a minimalistic approach. 

Crossfit describes itself as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional training”. We can describe TRX as “constant instable, functional training”.

Instability is an inherent characteristic of suspension training. While doing TRX push-up, you have to always control extra motions of arms. This instability improves balance and coordination. This is the reason TRX trainees have better body control in different situations.

TRX has a low risk of injury. By following the proper form and taking necessary safety measures, there is little chance of injury. This method has no age limit; everyone can benefit from it, from kids to older people. TRX can be used for rehabilitation from injuries during the recovery period. 

Who is Crossfit for?

Crossfit is a community-oriented discipline. If you prefer to work out in gym and get motivated by the community, this is a better option. Although you can join a TRX gym as well, in comparison, the Crossfit community holds competitive events on a larger scale. 

Crossfit is a mixture of body weight and external weight exercises. In the Crossfit box, there is equipment, such as kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells, plyometric box, jump rope, medicine ball, pull-up bar, treadmill, and so on. Even so, it does not rely on equipment as much as a traditional gym. Crossfit advocates itself not only as a training regimen, but as a lifestyle.

Crossfit is high-intensity, which makes it an unsuitable option for some age groups, or anyone susceptible to injury.

Key Points of TRX vs. Crossfit

  • Both TRX and Crossfit are functional training, but with some differences in their approaches
  • TRX is simple and easy to use. It is more available than Crossfit to people with different needs and resources.
  • TRX is more flexible in intensity and has a lower risk of injury
  • Crossfit advocates a sense of community.
  • Crossfit is more expensive than TRX
  • It is possible to create a combo TRX Crossfit workout, so that the bodyweight part of Crossfit is taken cared by TRX.

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