You can call it a single exercise if you want, but it’s really a combination of four foundational moves: a pushup, plank, lunge, and jump squat.
And it’s all done on one leg, since your other foot is secured in the TRX strap suspended several feet off the floor.
So, what do you call an exercise like this? You could call it absolutely brutal, but let’s keep its name simple: Introducing the TRX One-Leg Power Burpee.
According to TRX master trainer Jay Brockway, this one exercise pretty much does it all. The one-leg power burpee hits multiple major muscle groups while also working all areas of athleticism and functionality.
“You’ve got everything here,” says Brockway. “Effectively, you’re working the quads, glutes, and core, and you also have a chest press in there. And as soon as you put your foot in the strap, you’ve got the instability factor, so then you’re working on balance, speed, coordination, agility, all of the above. It’s a whole-body phenomenal move.”
How to do the TRX One-Leg Power Burpee
- Anchor a TRX suspension trainer overhead and adjust the straps so the handles are only a foot or so from the floor. If training at home, you can anchor the TRX at the top of a door.
- Facing away from the anchor, hook one foot in both handles and hop forward so that you’re starting in a standing position with your non-working leg extended behind you (foot hovering a couple feet off the floor in the handles).
- Similar to a burpee (only on one leg), drop down to the floor and do a pushup.
- At the top of the pushup, pull your working leg underneath you to put yourself into a lunge (split squat) position, and go right into a powerful single-leg jump squat.
- At the top of the jump, lift your working side knee up in front of you as high as possible. Use your arms to help create upward momentum for the jump.
- Land softly on your working leg, and go right into the next rep.
- Complete all reps on that leg, then switch legs and repeat.
Here’s a video demonstration of the exercise by Brockway:
How to scale the exercise
Needless to say, this is a difficult exercise that not everyone will be able to do with proper form. If it’s too advanced for you at the moment, start with a less-difficult version and work your way up to the full-blown combination.
There are endless ways to modify the movement, says Brockway, starting with the absolute basics and progressing from there. “You can build it from… train the lunge and the plank [separately], and then put them together,” he says. “You obviously need the fundamentals of stability in the lunge, as well as stability in the shoulders to push up and fight gravity. Because as soon as you put a foot in the straps, it’s game over.”
Below are some possible progressions, from easiest to hardest. Start with the most challenging version you’re currently able to do and work up from there.
- Try performing a burpee without using a TRX (both feet on the floor). This beginner version is performed with no pushup at the bottom nor a jump at the top; the intermediate/advanced version is a pushup at the bottom and a jump at the top of every rep.
- With one leg suspended, go down to a plank, then come back up (no jump at the top).
- Add the pushup to the previous progression.
- Do the full version described above, minus the pushup at the bottom. In other words, drop down to a plank (arms extended, chest not dropping to the floor) and go into the one-leg jump squat from there.
- Do the full-scale version slow and under control up until the one-leg jump squat (which is done explosively). In other words, “chop” up the movement into deliberate steps, in no rush.
- Do the full-scale TRX One-Leg Power Burpee for speed, much like CrossFitters increase the speed of their burpees for time.
How to fit the TRX One-Leg Power Burpee into a workout
Brockway recommends using this exercise as a finishing move in a lower-body workout incorporating traditional double-leg squatting and lunging movements earlier in the session. It also works well at the end of a full-body workout.
There are a few different methods Brockway suggests for doing the exercise: traditional sets and reps, high-intensity intervals, and Tabata-style protocol.
Sets and Reps: 3 sets, 7 reps
The prescription here is 3 sets of 7 reps per leg. “So, do seven reps on one leg, rest a bit, and then do seven on the other leg, and go back and forth,” says Brockway.
One simple interval scheme he recommends is 30 seconds on (continuous reps), 30 seconds off (full rest) – i.e., 30 seconds on the right leg, rest 30 seconds, 30 seconds on the left leg, rest 30 seconds, and so on — for up to three rounds per leg.
This protocol is 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, for 3 sets on one leg, then repeat on the other leg. During the 10-second rest period, keep your foot strapped in, standing upright on the working leg; there’s not enough time to unhook and then get back in.
The Tabata scheme is highly taxing from a conditioning standpoint, but it’s easily scalable as well. “A new person, for instance, could go no chest to floor and 20 on, 20 off,” says Brockway.”
To purchase a TRX Suspension Trainer (and/or other training equipment), visit TRXTraining.com.