Reading MOVEMENT IS A VITAL SIGN, PART 2 9 minutes


TRX Training and Coaching Methodology  takes a systematic approach to identifying, coaching, and programming different domains of movement. The goal is to encourage your clients to "own" how they move, improve positional competence, and efficiently transition from one position to another - something we call "transitional competence." Improved positional and transitional competence is achieved by deconstructing  movements into separate components. Once the components are understood, practiced, and "owned", they can be combined and executed by anyone, regardless of their fitness level. Your role as a coach is to design and deliver optimal learning and training environments in which each athlete or member can thrive.

In this second instalment of our Movement Is a Vital Sign series, we will start to cover how to evaluate movement, determine where deficits lie, and inform you on ways you can help anyone move, feel, and perform better.

If you haven't had a chance to read part 1 of this series, we recommend you do so before jumping ahead. Check it out here.


So, how do we get clients started on a path toward better movement? Range of motion is always a good place to start. Range of motion (ROM) is a combination of the extensibility/compliance of the soft tissue and the mobility of the joints/articulations involved in a particular movement. The amount of linear or angular displacement, ease of movement, and perception of comfort all contribute to the ROM someone will demonstrate in any given task. An individual who experiences plantar fasciitis and tight calves, for example, will have limited ankle mobility which can impact their  ability to perform certain movements. Exercise selection should consider ROM, how that range is achieved, and the TRX principle of what should be mobile and what should be stable. Movement, mobility, and ROM should also be evaluated at the local, regional, global, and environmental levels.

Another way to assess and evaluate, or "listen" to movement, is through strength--aka a person's ability to generate force, perform a "grind" - high load and lower velocity generate muscular tension in the appropriate patterns. When healthy mobility is coupled with appropriate levels of strength and stability, movement quality can be  optimised. When you or your clients have difficulty achieving a position or performing a movement, it can sometimes be attributed to mobility, stability, or strength limitations.


A uniquely effective  tool to pinpoint limitations is the TRX Suspension Trainer, which allows the user to unload a movement and get into proper positions with more ease. As a client/athlete moves, the top-down instability provides immediate feedback on how much control is demonstrated throughout the ROM. (We will be covering this principle in an upcoming blog so stay tuned). From there, body position relative to the anchor point can be modified to demonstrate "what right feels like and looks like." Body position can then be modified  to change the resistance or stability conditions and optimise the training stimulus. 


The TRX foundational movement methodology and TRX coaching system is built on the foundation of moving better and the principle of  "movement is a skill to be practiced." In order to practice movement, you need to have clear, specific, and measurable goals, and performance standards. We do a deep dive into these standards in the TRX Suspension Training Course (STC).

So what are some practical ways to address movement, set the standard, and improve human movement overall.


At the most basic level, start with "What should be mobile and what should be stable" during an exercise, a screen, or just about any movement. The TRX Foundational Movements-- push and pull, rotation, hinge, squat, lunge, step, and even plank--should be performed to a specific standard. As a trainer, you need to give personalised and effective feedback to ensure performance standards and accuracy are met. To achieve this, it's important that  you understand form and technique you can quickly evaluate and provide effective cues, coaching points, "swing thoughts" to keep people moving up to standards.

As form and technique may  inevitably decay, it's on you to coach clients up, modify the exercise with a Check-Down (modification), or even give permission to reset and take a quick break. In other words, once you set and teach standards, you must hold clients accountable to their performance. As the US TRX Training guru Miguel Vargas says, "Do not pass go." Meaning, you have to demonstrate movement standard accuracy  to get to the next progression. As you adhere to the standards, you will see how "precision will drive intensity" and high-quality movement performance.


The next  way to improve movement competence  is to identify and assess speed, velocity, and tempo then adjust movements accordingly. It can be a humbling experience to slow down movements on the Suspension Trainer and demonstrate positional and transitional competence at controlled speeds; it becomes much more difficult to hide weak areas or compensations with top-down instability. You can then determine whether your client needs a Check-Down (regression) or Step-Up (progression) and coach  accordingly without disrupting workout flow.

The Suspension Trainer makes it easy to change speed and/or exercise tempo; it helps you quickly transition from an isometric squat hold, to slow, full-range squat, to speed squats, all the way up to explosive and ballistic squat jumps, for example.

An often-overlooked way to evaluate movement and modify an exercise is to consider velocity. Velocity is related to speed, but also considers movement direction and plane of motion. Including exercises in the frontal/coronal and transverse planes is one of the Suspension Trainer's strong suits, thanks to the single anchor point.


Functional fitness is an essential component of any training plan. We define functional training as movements, exercises, and training loads that transfer over to other elements of a workout program and out of the training session to activities of daily living.

When creating programs and coaching sessions, it's important to consider how ROM, resistance, form, and velocity will translate to the "real world" when a client is faced with planned or even more so, an unexpected task outside of the gym. Ask yourself, what are the training objectives for that day and how will the skills and physiological qualities developed transfer over to what comes next? The selection and sequencing of exercises in a workout and how you sequence workouts in a program will help determine how functional, transferable , and effective the training adaptations will be.


There are almost as many outcomes to a training program as there are people training. For example, the ability to perform specific ROMs and levels of force production determine the work accomplished (force x distance); the time required to perform a given amount of work will determine power output (work/time); and the duration a given amount of work or power output can be sustained determines endurance or work capacity. Endurance is typically applied to steady-state or more "aerobic" types of exercise. But endurance and work capacity are context-specific. Different acute physiological responses and chronic adaptations will be determined by the volume  of training (total time, total reps), but often people miss the trees for the forest; focusing on the quality of movement can be just as--if not more--important than the volume or volume-load. There is a difference between performing 1 set of 20 reps versus 20 sets of 1 rep. TRX Movement-Based Training has been developed and tested to focus on movement first; each person must learn their proper level of progression where the right things are stable and mobile, apply the appropriate resistance-speed-endurance loads, and then challenge their limits in a safe, effective, and enjoyable way. 

Once you are able to break down movement in a systematic way using the TRX Foundational Movement methodology and TRX Programming Lens system, creating effective and engaging workouts and programs will be easier and faster. Your programs will also endure the test of time by being effective and scalable.

Finally, understanding how to perceive, analyse, evaluate, and respond to one or many people at a time will enable you to identify proper check-downs and step-ups to deliver a stellar personal training experience in a group environment every single time.

  • As a fitness professional, your craft and value are based on your knowledge and decision making.
  • We all have biases, trained incapacities, which are only problematic if we are unaware or ignore them.
  • Actively "listening" to movement can enhance your coaching abilities and engage your clients/athletes in purposeful practice.
  • Use movement precision to drive intensity.
  • Build out your "check-downs" and "step-ups" based on what you see.