Looking back about 3 years on my training, I can now see a few ways that I have not provided my clients with adequate service. Below is a list of 5 things I am now doing differently:
1) Sell small numbers of sessions during the initial few months. Some people will not keep doing this and while it is good for them, getting them to do it actually makes their life worse. It SUCKS to be out of shape and it can be even worse trying to get back into shape. And maybe, just maybe, selling someone a years worth of training when they are feeling excited in January is going to hurt them a lot more than help them. Give them the option to leave early on, and give them plenty of chances. You don’t want to train those who do not want to be trained.
2) Focus on getting them to properly engage their core. Humans need to be able to rotate their upper and lower bodies independently, but they also need to be able to prevent this rotation. If you do not set the ab muscles correctly when you lift, energy is going to be wasted and you will not lift as much weight. Worse still, is that if you ruin your back with relative ease when you lift without properly engaging your core. There has been an enormous increase in the level of satisfaction with most of my female clients now that I stay on them throughout the set to keep their core tight. The initial reduction in load is a small price to pay for the improvement in posture and function that accompanies appropriate core recruitment.
3) Focus on flexibility, joint mobility and function. This is one that annoys me because it was completely selfish. I don’t like stretching much (at all) and while I understood the importance of having adequate flexibility and proper joint range of motion, I didn’t place enough value on this for a long time. Fortunately all of my clients remained injury free so this shortcoming in training didn’t have a major impact on them now that it is being addressed.
4) Focus 70% of the strength training on eccentric phases. The lengthening phase of a working muscle is called the eccentric phase. It’s easiest to build strength and most of the micro trauma that forces muscle recovery occurs during this phase – these mean that if you have a lot to lose by not focusing on eccentric work. At its simplest, when you are lowering a weight you just move at 1/2 to 1/4 the speed that you would when you are lifting the weight. I don’t think you’ll lose fat as quickly if you avoid 4-5 second eccentric phases.
5) Focus on psychology with the people who don’t follow instructions. Athletes listen and do. People who want to change their body composition shut-up and follow the advice that is given. But what do you do when the people say they want something but fail to do what is needed to achieve their objective? You have two choices, the first is to fire them and get a new client, hopefully someone who will follow instructions and work towards their goal. The second choice is to get into their head and try to point out exactly what you are seeing and what it indicates. Doing the second consistently is what separates the good coaches from the great ones – and I’m hoping to be one of the great ones – because you’ll be able to get people to change who could not have achieved it on their own.
I have started to spend more time addressing these areas with my current clients, but I’m sure there will be a new list of shortcomings in the coming months and years, and that’s a good thing! We only improve the process when we admit to that which is not working and seek to change it.