Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Money vs. Principles....

Through my years of personal training I have developed certain principles when it comes to progression, program design, and certain exercises I will or will not have a client perform.  I have a method and reasoning behind everything I do when it comes to exercise selection, and feel that certain movements should be accomplished before moving on to more difficult exercises.

I have also developed a "list" of exercises and movements that I won't use with a client unless there are extenuating circumstances.  When I first am introduced to a client I perform a basic assessment of movements through different "dynamic/warm-up" activities.  If a client can't perform certain movements or has less than adequate strength levels, I will only focus on "foundation exercises" until progress has been made.

I use the term "foundation exercises" because I feel that those are the exercises that can we can build on and provide the most benefit in the long run.  Exercises like squats, lunges, inverted rows/pull ups, push-ups, planks, are easy to modify and increase or decrease difficulty.  

Some of the principles that I've developed over the years, but are not limited to:

- If a client can't do 5 good push-ups (for females, a bench push-up is acceptable) they are not allowed to bench press. (I never use a machine chest press or smith machine)

-If a client's shoulder range of motion is limited, or if a shoulder/ the trapezius  is severely elevated when performing assessments like a wall-slide, pushing movements will be limited to push-ups.  We will focus mainly on pull exercises (TRX rows, band pull-aparts, face-pulls, etc).

-If you are a teenage male, you need to be able to perform 3 quality chin-ups before you even think about doing a bicep curl.  You also need to be able to perform 5 parallel bar dips before we do any form of tricep isolation work.

-If a client can't perform a proper squat or lunge, there is NO need for external loading during lower body exercises.

-I WON"T put a "healthy" client on a leg press*!  I want clients to get the most "bang for their buck"- so why would I have them  perform a lower body exercise that excludes the lumbar spine and doesn't adequately activate the glutes and hamstring?  *Possible exceptions are "bodybuilder/mass gain oriented" type clients, or those with physical limitations or injuries.

most of the time, trainers use the leg press as an easy way out, and gym goers use the leg press because they can load up the weight to appear strong....

if you want to BE strong talk to me when you can front squat 315......

-The Leg Extension is another piece of equipment I avoid with clients because of it has VERY little benefit on strength and adequate muscle recruitment.

Okay, so there my list and a little rant....

So here is the question, I have a 21 year old male who wants to train with me, but he only wants to focus on bench press, curls, and tricep movements.  The guy can't do "1" push up, is no where near close to performing a chin up, and can't do 10 body weight squats without looking like he is going to fall over.  If I do what "he" wants, he will be training with me 2 X a week.

Will the money I'll make be a reason to give up "my ground rules"? Or should I say, "maybe I'm not the trainer for you".

Luckily I have a full-time job which pays salary.  I am also lucky to have a decent client pool to chose from to fill my available hours.  To me doing the right thing is more important than earning a fast buck.  There are plenty of other trainers that would take the cash and run.  Actually there are tons of trainers that won't even bother with an assessment because they have no idea what the hell they are doing!

It's easy to have someone do leg presses, bicep curls, lat pull-downs, and a "light" chest press.  If you want to work a little, teach someone to squat, lunge, and do a proper push-up.

My clients know I have their best interest in mind when it comes to designing a training program.  They know I strive to get them their desired results  My clients have seen their strength, mobility, body composition improve and I think they are much "happier" people because of their physical achievements. 

That is what this job is all about, making your clients move, look, and feel better.  If a person doesn't have a desire to move better than a pregnant, one-legged, elephant- I am obviously not the trainer for them......


Bryan said...

Most trainers that take a client like your describing are typically 1 of 2 things. 1) They're lazy in developing an effective program that will get that type of client to where they "NEED" to be, and 2) They're not educated & confident enough in themselves as a fitness professional to influence the client that their perception of health & fitness is all screwed up.

How many people enroll in any type of higher education course and walk right up to the teacher and tell them specifically what they want to learn and have no regards for anything else? Too much B.S. marketing and misleading information has really influenced people's perception in a negative way. Guess that's why 3/4 of the population is overweight and physically incapable of meeting any of the guidelines you have talked about. Great topic!

Damon Brobst CSCS said...

When I first started training I made tons of mistakes, and one of the biggest was not assessing a clients "needs". After evaluating basic movement patterns and seeing a lot of dysfunction, I feel that more a long term benefit will be reached by doing the "right" training program and starting with proper body mechanics. The population is grossly misinformed, and it's a scary situation.