If you're a TRX fan and you also adore Pilates, the Redcord will be your new best friend. It takes the exercises you've learned to a whole new level of intensity, which means you can work more muscles at one time, which means a stronger you.
What is Redcord?
Walking into Kristina Marcussen's physical therapy studio, I saw a bench with a few red-colored ropes hanging from overhead. Looked pretty simple, but also a little intimidating. She explained that "Redcord is suspension training equipment designed by Kare Mosberg, a Norwegian carpenter and gymnast. He was looking for a way to remedy his back pain. He was also into sailing, so a lot of the equipment has to do with sailing." Like TRX, you rely on your own body weight as resistance and to also help you stabilize and balance while using the suspension straps, "which means firing up more muscles fibers," Kristina says. Using Redcord is like doing a push-up with your legs on a yoga ball versus a push-up on the ground — you instantly feel more muscles working, so you can do fewer reps with greater results.
How does it differ from TRX?
Instead of two straps being attached to a single anchor, the cords are attached to a pulley system. You can either adjust and stabilize the length of each cord or leave them loose to slide through the pulley. This allows for an even greater range of motion than TRX. Aside from the two handles, you can also attach thicker straps or slings to the cords, allowing you to suspend both legs or your pelvis at once. Unlike the TRX, which was designed by a Navy SEAL for fitness, Redcord was originally designed as a form of physical therapy to help with injuries. Now it is being utilized by athletes and everyday people as well.
Keep reading to find out where to find Redcord and whether or not I liked it!
How can I get started?
Look in your area for either a therapist who can offer a private session or a studio or gym that offers classes. It's around $75 per hour for the one-on-one, but you'll get individual pointers and tips to help you with proper alignment and to ensure you're activating the muscles you're supposed to. You might not realize that your pelvis isn't tucked, and as soon as you're told to press it forward, you'll instantly feel your deep abs working. Kristina says, "A session is usually an hour, but you can work your entire body with a handful of basic moves in about 20 minutes." If that seems way too pricey, Kristina recommends looking for a studio that offers classes — they have Redcords attached to the ceiling for each person to use. You'll pay around $20 for the hour. She says it takes just a few sessions for your body to learn the moves.
Can I do Redcord at home?
Yes, you can purchase a Redcord Mini ($169), which includes two adjustable suspension ropes with a clip on the end to attach the included straps, an instruction manual, and an exercise poster. "That's all you really need, but if you want more comfortable support, you can buy the thicker straps," Kristina says. You can attach it to your ceiling with the suspension screws included, or if you already have a pull-up bar or sturdy beam in your home, that works too.
I left my first session thinking, I need this in my home gym! It was amazing how quickly I felt my muscles working the instant I slipped my hands or legs in the straps — even before I did the first rep! And it's so easy to get started because you do exercises you already know like bridge, push-ups, side plank, and elbow plank. But because of the instability the ropes create, it forces your body to use way more muscles. I thought how I'm wasting time doing 50 push-ups on the floor when I could be doing 10 with the Redcord.
You could achieve similar results using a yoga ball or BOSU, but sometimes they're a little too unstable, making moves impossible to do correctly, which could result in an injury. The straps hold you in place, and the weightless feeling is so freeing and fun. Plus, boredom is just not an option. You're so focused on engaging all your muscles to hold the proper position that your mind doesn't have time to wander. The hour just flew by, and I left with my muscles happily buzzing from being worked. If you want to take strength training to a whole new level of intensity or you're dealing with an injury or chronic pain, find a Redcord therapist or class near you.