Wednesday, December 15, 2010


After reading Joe Defranco's write-up on assessments (a great read), I really began thinking- How much time should I spend with a new client with assessment/evaluation type stuff??? I've been following the advice of various strength coaches that recommend, as a coach, you should assess everything! From the way a person walks into your facility to the way they perform warm-up/activation drills. Defranco's article is pretty much the exact way I go about assessing a clients movement, and I think people appreciate they are actually getting work done while I am assessing. It's great to see people sweating and actually look like they're training when I'm actually evaluating every movement they make.

Most of the time when when working with client I tend to notice tight hip flexors, poor glute activation, and protracted shoulders. I tend to observe these deviations when a client is going through a dynamic warm-up that is a combination of mobility and flexibility exercise. One of the things that drives me crazy is when someone is in good physical condition, and they can't squat correctly.

I trained a client today for the first time and pretty much every movement appeared to be done correctly, except for the squat. This client was in good physical condition, but when it came time to perform a basic exercise it was rather challenging. One of my favorite tests to assess someones movement pattern when they squat is the doorway squat test (an overhead squat performed in a doorway). If you haven't done so check out Gray Cook's awesome book, Athletic Body in Balance it discusses this test in detail and provides loads of great information . More times than not, people do poorly on this test which can be corrected over a few sessions with the right exercises.

Bring in the case for the Box Squat. "Get those hips back, chest up, get lower!" Yes, the box squat is my exercise of choice to improve this deviated movement pattern. Actually the front squat to a box is the exercise I prefer to introduce to clients who lack depth or have an irregular movement pattern when they squat. It can be performed with a straight bar or a dumbbell, vary similar to a goblet squat, but using a box for coaching ques and depth.

I suggest giving clients "working" assessments, they will actually feel like they are getting something out of the session rather than just being tested on things they probably do poorly, and possibly leaving the session feeling cheated and dissatisfied. From there you can create an individual training program that is based around a clients needs and goals which should be the focus of every personal training session.

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