Tools of the trade: Phils stay in shape with TRX

Those ads are always on while you relax and sip your late-night cocktail.

You know, the ones promising tighter abs and toned pectorals. Well, professional baseball teams are using similar — albeit significantly more advanced — versions to aid in their everyday training.

TRX Suspension Training, a company born in the U.S. Navy SEALs, leverages gravity and an athlete’s own body weight in a portable suspension device that is easy to transport and conveniently fits on a field-goal post or over a hotel room door. The Phillies have been using TRX for the past five years, according to strength and conditioning coach Dong Lien. The training tool is perfect for squats, rows, tricep extensions, bicep curls and core programs.

“It’s not your typical machine,” Lien said. “It’s almost like a rope, in that it has handles and you can clip it to the end of any stable device. It is a complete body workout.”

Lien said the Phillies have two TRX devices permanently set up in the team’s weight room and the players always gravitate toward them. Even those in rehab.

“It’s a nice warm-up before you start lifting weights,” he said.

Lien wouldn’t give out specific names, but he was quick to praise Roy Halladay’s legendary work ethic. The staff ace usually makes reporters wait close to 40 minutes after starts, as he completes his workout routine.

“He’s the first to arrive, ready to go at 5 a.m. He stays on task, he’s so regimented,” Lien said. “It’s great for me to work with someone of his caliber. Quite an honor.”

Of course, the 2012 season hasn’t gone exactly the way Lien and the Phils drew it up. Ryan Howard (Achilles) and Chase Utley (knees) haven’t seen the field yet. Cliff Lee (oblique) recently hit the disabled list. Jim Thome is fighting a chronic back injury. And workout beast Hunter Pence is also nursing a sore shoulder.

No worries, just part of the grind.

“It’s always challenging for us with injuries,” Lien said. “We want to keep our players on the field, try to prevent them as much as possible. This year is no different.”

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