There’s more to benching big weight than just having strong pecs. You also need powerful leg drive and enough triceps strength to be able to lock out the bar at the top of the lift. And perhaps most important, you’ve also got to strengthen your stabilizing muscles—the peripheral ones in your shoulders and core that keep you balanced and in your “groove.”

TRX Suspension Training

If you don’t, you’re not letting yourself get as strong as you can be. The solution? TRX suspension training. When you try performing suspended push-ups for the first time, you’re in for a rude awakening if you’ve never focused on stabilization. You may be able to crank out multiple reps, but your entire upper body is almost guaranteed to shake—a telltale sign that your stabilizers need work. Get that shake out of your system with a solid program of TRX work, and you’ll be more stable under the bar and a lot stronger as a result.

Start with the handles positioned at knee height and lower them when you’re capable of performing at least 20 reps without shaking excessively. Your ultimate goal is to accomplish this with your feet elevated.

Try the following workout on the next page—without benching—for three weeks and watch your bench numbers skyrocket.


Assume a push-up position with your hands holding the TRX handles in a neutral grip. Keeping your elbows tight to your body, descend as low as possible, then press yourself back up.


Set the TRX straps to a height just below your chest. With your feet together and your core tight, lean forward until your hands are to the sides of your head and behind it.


With your hands approximately shoulder-width apart, mimic the TRX elbow tuck and perform as many push-ups as you can, stopping one short of failure.

The Workout:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
TRX TRICEPS 3 As many as possible 90 Seconds
PUSH-UPS 3 As many as possible 90 Seconds
TRX SUSPENDED PUSH-UPS 3 As many as possible 90 Seconds

Get more features like this for free in the web version of the Muscle & Fitness 2014 Training Trends Special Digital Issue.