I’m always looking for that next training cue, that line that provides a client with an “Aha” moment. If you’re a fellow trainer you know what I’m writing about. What I’ve come to observe is that everyone learns differently. You have those that you explain or demonstrate an exercise once, and poof… they got it. And when I say got it, I mean they can perform the exercise exactly how you demonstrated it. Sometimes better. Then there’s the other 90% of the time. Either they don’t understand how to do it, or worse, they think they got it, but in reality they don’t. Now in regards to the latter that is when you need to peel the onion back and start to coach them up on the area they need work. Also I must mention, hopefully you have picked an exercise that is a good fit for them. For example, if you’re working with a person with big asymmetries in regards to lower body strength, maybe split squats with dumbbells are a better option than rear barbell squats. Remember my mantra when picking an exercise “for what & for whom”. I truly don’t believe in bad exercises, just bad exercise selections.
One of the things that I’ve learned is that people typically want to please. So when you put an exercise before them, they want to perform it correctly for you. It’s almost like a challenge for some. This is where movement prep, doing a warm up or preparatory movement prior to an exercise to assist in the mind /muscle connection is so important. This acts as a test run typically without load. This is huge specifically when dealing with high skill (kettlebell snatches or swings, barbell cleans or front squats, and many TRX exercises) type movements. The next thing is that you need to make your coaching cues brief. Workout routines are just like sports. In sports the last thing you want is someone thinking too much. This can cause people to slow down or stop. Does the term paralysis analysis sound familiar? The problem that many trainers have is that we want to “throw up” everything we know about that particular exercise on the client. We want to show our worth. I think it’s a bit of insecurity, I’ll admit… I was that guy. Just remember they asked you the time, not how to build a watch. I believe the best exercises are those that you sometimes have to say the least. But on the other side of that coin, there are times you have to explain a few things before they even pick up the weight so they are fully aware of the objective. Like a sports coach, there is a time to speak, and then a time to be quite.
So for my fellow trainers out there be aware of whom you’re training. Treat every exercise like eating the elephant… one bite at a time. And remember that less is sometimes more. Being a good personal trainer is more than demonstrating an exercise. It includes coaching the person up so that they can perform the movement exactly how it was suppose to be done, and feel confident while doing it. This is not always so simple. Keep your instruction simple and find the cues that work best for each person, and you’ll be a productive trainer that coaches. And for those of you who work with a trainer, be patient. It may take more than 3 sets of 15 reps to get an exercise down. Compare it to baseball. There’s a good chance that you didn’t hit a homerun the first time you swung your bat at a pitch. See you in the gym.